13 Health and Wellbeing

Overview

13.1 Natural green and open space, outdoor playing space and sports, cultural and community facilities can all make a major contribution to ensuring that villages and towns are places in which people will choose to live. They play a key role in enhancing the health and sense of wellbeing of the local community. National guidance states that local planning authorities need to consider the health and wellbeing needs of local communities in their local plans[1] .

13.2 A main role of the planning system in association with development is to ensure there are sufficient open space and outdoor play space, formal sports, cultural and community facilities and that they are in the right places. But there is also a need to ensure they are of a quality to meet local standards, attractive to users, meet expectations, and are well managed and maintained. By undertaking local assessments of need and audits of provision, it is intended that the following objectives are set for the District:

  • Networks of accessible, quality open spaces, sport and recreation facilities, in both urban and rural areas, which meet the needs of residents and visitors, are fit for purpose and are economically and environmentally sustainable;
  • An appropriate balance between new provision and the enhancement of existing provision; and
  • Clarity and reasonable certainty for developers and land owners in relation to the requirements and expectations of local planning authorities in respect of open space and sport and recreation provision.

13.3 Under the provisions of the NPPF[2] , open space may be designated ‘Local Green Space’ in local and neighbourhood plans where the green space is:

a) In reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;

b) Demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and

c) Local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

13.4 Design of the built environment should encourage physical activity and enable the development of on-site facilities, opportunities for exercise, relaxation and play.

13.5 Open Space includes formal and informal recreation open space, parks and gardens, country parks, natural green space, designated Local Green Space, woodlands and allotments. Outdoor Playing Space is defined as pitches, equipped play areas and youth facilities. Greater access to open space, parks, allotments, playing fields and provision for children and young people is clearly beneficial to the health and wellbeing of a local community. Networks of green spaces and corridors provide opportunities for recreation, walking and cycling.

13.6 In addition to the more obvious formal sports and cultural facilities, community halls also provide opportunities for social and recreation provision. Community halls are multipurpose buildings provided by the community for the community. They provide space and facilities for a range of local activities and increasingly for community services. It is therefore important that community halls are maintained and enhanced and where new communities are being formed or expanded through new development, there is an intention to ensure adequate provision of community hall space.

13.7 Symphony Healthcare Services (SHS) is a partnership between Yeovil District Hospital (YDH) and various GP Practices across the District. It is important that healthcare is not compromised by increases in population and investment will be needed at the Hospital and elsewhere to maintain services in the face of growth. This is particularly so given the on-going increases in the proportion of elderly population in the District. Some existing healthcare practices are operating in excess of capacity in accordance with national standards. More information is covered in the place specific infrastructure sections of this Plan, but SHS is actively looking for an area of land in Yeovil for a new additional primary healthcare facility; and improvements and expansion at YDH and elsewhere will be required. The Council will support the seeking of contributions from developers to meet these aims.

1. Health and wellbeing - GOV.UK [back]
2. NPPF 2019. Paragraph 100 [back]

Open Space, Sport, Recreation, Cultural and Community Facilities

Local Standards and Planning Obligations

13.8 Government guidance [3] requires local authorities to have undertaken detailed assessments of needs and audits of existing facilities, to identify deficiencies in facilities and identify opportunities for new provision.

13.9 The quantitative, qualitative, accessibility and catchment standards are set out in South Somerset District Council’s published assessments and needs strategies. These documents will be updated in the light of the most recent evidence as required. Further advice on the Council's design standards for open space can be found in the Landscape Design Guide Addendum and the Play Policy produced by the Council.[4]

13.10 In accordance with Policy SS5, these standards are used to assess the level of open space, outdoor playing space and sports, cultural and community facilities that would be needed to meet the reasonable requirements of a development’s future occupants, providing that the obligation meets the three statutory tests in paragraph 56 of the NPPF[5] .

13.11 The provision of 'dual use' open space may be considered but only where open access can be secured and where the District Council is satisfied that long term open access can be achieved.

13.12 In calculating the amount of space required, the type of development and make-up of individual housing schemes will need to be taken into account in order to determine likely household size. It is accepted that not all types of development generate the same demand for open space, outdoor playing space, and sport and recreational facilities, such as single bedroom accommodation, rest homes, nursing homes, sheltered accommodation; and special needs housing.

3. NPPF 2019 Paragraph 96 [back]
4. See https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/your-council/your-council-plan-and-strategies/planning-for-open-space-sport-and-recreation/ [back]
5. NPPF, 2019 [back]

Green Infrastructure

13.13 Green Infrastructure is the mosaic of natural landscape features, spaces and corridors that lie within and between developed areas. They are essential elements of the character and appearance of an area and contribute positively to cultural heritage, the health and wellbeing of the local community and the general quality of life. In addition to enriching visual amenity they offer opportunities for informal recreation and provide wildlife habitats and the connectivity between them. They can also contribute to natural drainage and reduce surface water run-off, helping mitigate for the consequences of climate change. Green Infrastructure assets include open spaces such as parks and gardens, allotments, woodlands and natural open space, fields, hedges, lakes, ponds, playing fields, as well as footpaths, cycleways and rivers.

13.14 The provision of properly integrated Green Infrastructure can enhance the amenity of an area and promote a sense of place and community identity. Greater access to open space, parks, playing fields and provision for children and young people are clearly beneficial to health and the sense of well-being of the local community. Networks of green spaces and corridors provide opportunities for recreation, walking and cycling and also benefit wildlife by conserving and enhancing habitats, and providing buffers from development to important wildlife sites and watercourses. Green infrastructure can also serve to deflect visitor pressures on nationally and internationally important wildlife sites.

13.15 Trees are essential to the value of Green Infrastructure. The retention of trees and woodland; their appropriate management; and provision of new tree planting, can help to combat climate change and flooding. Trees help to alleviate pollution and modify microclimate.

13.16 Attenuation ponds and other sustainable drainage systems, together with larger water bodies, can also provide valuable aspects of Green Infrastructure, with a potential for enhancing ecological and landscape value.

13.17 Clear priorities will be established through an overarching Green Infrastructure Strategy. This will incorporate local open space standards and requirements for developments to contribute towards the delivery of a comprehensive network of Green Infrastructure. In particular, the strategy will recognise the need to integrate Green Infrastructure within the Yeovil Sustainable Extensions and to ensure that all communities have access to quality green areas.

13.18 Where loss of green infrastructure as a result of development is unavoidable the Council will seek mitigation based on the principles within Natural England’s Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard[6] (ANGSt).

6. http://www.ukmaburbanforum.co.uk/docunents/other/nature_nearby.pdf [back]

Site Specific Mitigation

13.19 Although the District Council has adopted a Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule, the ‘Regulation 123 List’ does not include the use of monies received for community, health or leisure facilities, other than the following specific items:

  • Arts and entertainment facilities and improvement in Yeovil
  • Swimming pool improvements or provision in Yeovil, Primary and Local Market Towns
  • Sports hall improvements or provision in Yeovil, Primary and Local Market Towns
  • 3G Artificial Grass Pitch improvements or provision in Primary and Local Market Towns
  • Community hall improvements or provision
  • New cemetery space to serve Yeovil
  • Off-site open space and public realm

13.20 Contributions for site specific mitigations will therefore continue to be sought elsewhere for improvements or provision of open space or public realm, outdoor play space, sports, community and cultural facilities or building related to a specific development site, through a S106 agreement. This will be necessary where it has been proven that the new development increases local needs. The provision of open space, outdoor playing space and sports, cultural and community facilities may be required on-site or may form part of a contribution towards off-site provision of either new or improved facilities. The requirement for an off-site contribution may arise because of the following:

  • The size, layout and topography of the development; and
  • There may be other opportunities within the appropriate distance of the site which could better meet the needs of the development.

13.21 Provisions for future maintenance can be sought towards such provision to ensure the continued availability of the open space, equipped play space, youth facilities and playing pitches and changing rooms. Planning Obligations can include maintenance payments towards the provision of facilities that are predominately for the benefit of the users of the associated development.

13.22 The provision of on-site (or contribution towards off-site) play and youth facilities, playing pitches and changing facilities, public open space and landscaped areas will require developers to agree the future management of this space with the Council.. The Council will need to be satisfied that any management company is suitably financed. The former will require an initial landscape maintenance plan to be implemented prior to adoption, with a commuted sum paid to the local planning authority to cover maintenance for the 10 years following adoption. The latter will require a formal management plan, including timescale for adoption and maintenance schedule, to be agreed as part of a Section 106 planning obligation.

13.23 In areas of particular sensitivity, it is recognised that there is a role for open space provision in alleviating pressure on existing natural areas. This is particularly the case at Langport/Huish Episcopi, where more open space provision for activities such as dog walking can alleviate pressures on Somerset Moors and Levels sites, given their close proximity.

 

POLICY HW1 – PROVISION OF OPEN SPACE, OUTDOOR PLAYING SPACE, SPORTS, CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES IN NEW DEVELOPMENT

  1. Where new housing development generates a need for additional open space, outdoor playing space, local and strategic sports, cultural and community facilities, provision/contributions will be made as appropriate. The need for additional open space may be required due to the proximity to sensitive (internationally-designated) sites and conservation areas, so as to alleviate potential development-related pressure on those sites.
  2. Housing provision consisting of sheltered housing, rest and nursing homes, special needs housing will be exempt from these standards with exception of informal recreational open space.
  3. Developments of one bedroom dwellings will not be required to provide equipped play provision and youth facilities but will be required to provide for other open space and outdoor playing space.
  4. Dependent upon the size and layout of the development, the provision of open space, outdoor playing space, local and strategic sports, cultural and community facilities, may be required on site or may form part of a contribution towards off site provision of either new or improved facilities. In such circumstances off-site provision towards local facilities should be made in a location, which adequately services the new development and a planning obligation may be used to secure this.
  5. Provision should be made for future maintenance to ensure the continued availability of the facilities.
  6. Green Corridors, Public Rights of Way, Civic Spaces, Cemeteries, Private Open Space, Designated Local Green Space and Community Allotments are other aspects of Green Infrastructure, which need to be given full consideration.

 

POLICY HW2 – GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE

  1. The Council will promote the provision of Green Infrastructure throughout the district, based upon the enhancement of existing areas including public open space, accessible woodland, and river corridors, and by ensuring that development provides open spaces and green corridor links between new and existing green spaces.
  2. Development proposals should provide and/or maintain a network of connected and multifunctional open spaces that, where appropriate, meet the following requirements:
  1. Create new habitats and connects existing wildlife areas to enrich biodiversity & promote ecological coherence;
  2. Provide and/or maintain an accessible network of green spaces and improve recreational opportunities, including environmental education, local food production and support physical health and mental wellbeing;
  3. Ensure that all children and young people have reasonable access to a range of play and leisure opportunities;
  4. Provide and/or maintain opportunities for enhanced, attractive walking and cycling routes linking urban areas and the wider countryside;
  5. Enhance and/or maintain the character and local distinctiveness of the landscape;
  6. Contribute to and/or maintain local identity and sense of place;
  7. Increase the district's tree cover;
  8. Help mitigate the consequences of climate change (sustainable drainage systems, shade etc.); and
  9. Alleviate current and future potential visitor and recreation pressure/disturbance to internationally designated conservation areas.

iii. Existing Green Infrastructure will be protected against any adverse impact of development proposals. If loss of existing green infrastructure assets is unavoidable in order to accommodate necessary development, appropriate mitigation for the loss will be required. Development should include green infrastructure of an appropriate type, standard and size and be designated based on the principles within Natural England’s Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard or otherwise appropriately contribute to improving access to natural greenspace such that the overall aims are met.

Existing Outdoor Sports, Play and Youth Provision

13.24 Existing outdoor sports, play and youth provision will be protected from inappropriate future development which would result in the loss of these facilities. This includes:

  • LAPs - Local Areas for Play;
  • LEAPs - Locally Equipped Areas for Play;
  • NEAPs - Neighbourhood Equipped Areas for Play;
  • MUGAs - Multi Use Games Areas;
  • Destination playgrounds';
  • Youth facilities, including skate parks, hard surfaced courts, areas for ball play (including multi use games areas – MUGAs, rebound walls, basketball courts), skate parks, BMX tracks and youth shelters

13.25 There may however be instances, where there is a proven oversupply of equipped play areas and youth facilities, or where they are not appropriately located. In this instance it may be desirable to remove the facilities and not relocate them.

13.26 NPPF para 97 [7] provides a wider context for Policy HW4 below and includes playing fields and recreational buildings.

 

POLICY HW3 – PROTECTION OF PLAY SPACES AND YOUTH PROVISION

Development which would result in the loss of equipped play areas and youth facilities will only be permitted where:

  1. There is a partial development of a site and the remaining site will be retained at its current provision and improved;
  2. Alternative provision of equivalent community benefit of a similar nature which is accessible and made available locally within the same catchment;
  3. There is a proven oversupply of equipped play areas and youth facilities, or they are not appropriately located.
7. NPPF 2019 [back]