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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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Chapter 15

Sport and Recreation

Relevant Strategic Aims

b. Social and welfare, c. Health

Policy Objectives

Policy List

  1. increasing choice - promote the development of a comprehensive and diverse network of high quality sport and recreation facilities through management agreements and the implementation of planning policies
  2. existing space - protect and enhance public and private open space, public rights of way and other land of recreational and amenity value
  3. new development - ensure that all major new development is accompanied by a sufficient quantity of safe, usable and accessible recreational space
  4. access and harmony - ensure that a diverse range of recreational opportunities are available and accessible to all local people without creating adverse environmental impacts

SR1 Sports, Recreation or Cultural Facilities

SR2 Outdoor Activities

SR3 Golf Facilities

SR4 Protecting Recreational Open Space

SR5 Outdoor Playing Space and New Residential Development

SR6 Allotments

SR7 Allocated Sites for Outdoor Playing Space

SR8 The Dee Estuary Corridor

Indicators of Policy Performance


  1. Area of open space gained/lost
  2. Area of school playing fields lost to development
  3. Applications to develop play/green/open space contrary to policy
  4. Residential areas within 500m of publicly accessible open space



15 Sport and Recreation


15.1 Residents and visitors to Flintshire take part in a wide variety of leisure activities ranging from visiting the theatre or participation in organised sport, to informal activities such as walking in the countryside. A combination of factors such as shorter working hours, a growth in early retirement and increasing levels of disposable wealth have resulted in many people having more time to spend on leisure activities. In particular, participation in activities like jogging, aerobics and rambling is increasing with a growing awareness of the need to exercise regularly to stay healthy.


National Planning Policy

15.2 The Welsh Government supports the development of sport and recreation and the wide range of leisure pursuits which encourage physical activity, recognising its contribution to quality of life. In 2005 it published its strategy for the next 20 years for Sport and Physical Activity, ‘Climbing Higher’, followed by ‘Climbing Higher Next Steps’ in 2006, which explains the areas which will be targetted for investment’.

15.3 Planning Policy Wales seeks to ensure that planning authorities provide the framework for well located, good quality sport, recreation and leisure facilities. Areas and facilities provided in both rural and urban areas should be sensitive to the needs of users, attractive, well designed, well maintained, protected from crime and vandalism, safe and accessible by people whose mobility is restricted and by a variety of sustainable means of travel, particularly walking, cycling and public transport. In rural areas the Welsh Government stresses that the scale and nature of such developments must be sensitive to the local environment.

15.4 In line with general principles, encouragement is given to the use of previously used land and existing buildings. Emphasis is placed on the protection of playing fields and formal and informal open spaces, particularly those with not only recreational and amenity value but also biodiversity, landscape and nature conservation value. LPAs should protect existing rights of way network and seek to promote new walking and cycling routes.

15.5 In addition to the policy considerations set out above, section 11.2 of Planning Policy Wales also sets out a number of other functions to be performed by UDPs, which are summarised below:


Flintshire Context

15.6 The demand for new and improved facilities to pursue leisure activities needs to be carefully managed to ensure that, whilst opportunities are developed they do not place undue pressure on the landscape and wildlife. This chapter of the Plan includes both general policies for the development of sports, recreation, leisure and cultural facilities and more specific ones dealing with particular types of activity. In particular, it seeks to ensure that existing recreational spaces and facilities are protected and enhanced, as well as giving guidance on the most suitable locations for new proposals. There is a recognition throughout of the need to minimise any potential negative impacts of such developments either on residential amenity or the natural environment. The Council's Countryside Strategy complements these policies and the Plan as a whole by encouraging access and recreation opportunities in the countryside.



SR1 Sports, Recreation or Cultural Facilities

Proposals for sports, recreation or cultural facilities will be permitted provided that:

a. leisure uses best located in town centres adopt a sequential approach to site selection utilising suitable sites or buildings within town centres, or where this is not practicable, they utilise a site/building within settlement boundaries as close to the town centre as possible;

b. in villages, they are located within a settlement boundary and are appropriate in scale and type; and

c. in the open countryside they involve:

  1. the extension of existing sports or recreational facilities; or
  2. the conversion of suitable buildings; or
  3. small scale buildings and/or ancillary development necessary to carry out the recreational or sporting activity; and

d. in all cases, the facility is accessible to the local population by a variety of means of travel other than the private car.

In the case of leisure developments outside the defined town centres, applicants will be required to demonstrate a need for the facility.

15.7 The provision of new and improved facilities for sports and recreation will be supported whilst seeking to minimise the impact on their surroundings. It is intended that this policy should cover formal leisure developments such as, bowling alleys and bingo halls, cultural facilities such as public halls, libraries and museums, and sports facilities such as stadiums, pitches and pavilions.

15.8 In accordance with Planning Policy Wales, facilities which generate high levels of travel should be measured against the sequential test for site selection. Leisure and cultural uses are most appropriately located in, or otherwise immediately adjacent to, town centres, close to the main centres of population. They can play an important role in generating town centre vitality and can make a valuable contribution to the evening economy. They add interest to settlements and can attract a range of complementary daytime and evening uses like specialist retailing, cafes, pubs, and restaurants. They will not be considered appropriate outside settlements.

15.9 Cultural facilities can bring a sense of identity and character to an area. The Council wishes to encourage such developments in accordance with the Plan strategy aim to promote and support a diverse local culture. Wherever possible developments should reflect the historic or cultural character of Flintshire.

15.10 The policy also gives guidance in respect of the development of sports facilities. Such facilities may require only very limited built structures in association with the main use of the site for sport and may therefore be appropriate outside settlement boundaries. This policy indicates that where green areas such as outdoor pitches or playing fields would normally be permitted outside settlement boundaries, small amounts of ancillary built development such as changing rooms would also be permitted where this would not affect the open character of the countryside. The development of outdoor recreation facilities such as picnic sites, local viewpoints, toilet facilities and associated interpretative material will also be permitted in the open countryside provided that they are sympathetically located and designed.

15.11 Shared use of existing recreation facilities may be particularly appropriate where land is scarce, leading to more efficient use of existing resources and increasing the range of facilities available to the local community. Schools are a particularly valuable resource which offer great potential to meet the needs of children and of the wider community. The LPA will seek to meet identified shortfalls in sport and recreation provision partly through shared usage and the use of section 106 agreements wherever appropriate.


SR2 Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities will be permitted only where:

  1. the activity proposed is of a type, scale and intensity that would not unacceptably harm the character and appearance of the site and its surroundings, residential or other amenity, or any landscape, nature conservation or historic interest;
  2. in the case of riding centres the County Council is satisfied that there are suitable and convenient bridleways for riding in the vicinity; and
  3. the site is accessible by a choice of modes of travel other than the private car.

15.12 This policy provides guidance with respect to outdoor activity centres and also outdoor activities. Outdoor activity centres are defined as residential or non-residential establishments specifically used as a base for outdoor educational or recreational purposes. Such establishments include field study centres, outdoor pursuit centres, pony trekking centres and riding stables. Outdoor activities include for example, clay pigeon shooting, motorsports, paintballing, war games and watersports. Many of these activities can result in disturbance to adjoining areas and the enjoyment of participants needs to be balanced against the potential nuisance to others, particularly where there are noise sensitive uses such as housing, schools and hospitals located nearby. Where appropriate, such proposals should be located in or adjoining existing industrial areas or in well screened locations such as quarries where they would not create a nuisance to adjoining uses. Noisy sporting / recreation activities, particularly those on a commercial scale, will be assessed on a case by case basis to ensure that such developments do not adversely affect neighbouring communities nor the quiet enjoyment of a location.

15.13 Developments of this type can provide recreational opportunities for local people as well as attracting visitors to the area to enjoy the countryside and generating new employment opportunities. Consequently the policy allows for sensitive and appropriate use to be made of the natural assets of the area, whilst encouraging rural diversification. Where new buildings are required, these proposals should be dealt with in conjunction with policy SR1.


Other Key Policies:


SR3 Golf Facilities

Proposals for new golf courses, the extension of existing golf courses, associated facilities and golf driving ranges will be permitted only where:

  1. the development reflects the landscape character of its surroundings and existing landscape features are retained where possible;
  2. the development will seek to enhance the nature conservation value of the site through appropriate design and management of the grounds;
  3. the development can be accommodated without having a significant adverse effect on areas designated as being of international or national importance for biodiversity and landscape or on the site’s historic or archaeological conservation value;
  4. associated facilities are strictly ancillary to the use of the site as a golf course;
  5. any floodlighting is located so as to minimise light pollution;
  6. in the case of golf driving ranges, where outside settlement boundaries, they are directly associated with a golf course;
  7. existing buildings are utilised and where new buildings are essential, they are located near existing buildings, and blend into the landscape in terms of siting, form, design, and materials supplemented by sensitive landscaping; and
  8. adequate access can be provided which does not adversely impact on the highway network.

15.14 This policy reflects the popularity of golf and its potential impact upon the landscape. The development of new facilities and extension of existing facilities will be permitted only where they would be sensitively located and designed.

15.15 Landscape character refers to the distinctiveness of the location of the proposal. It requires that developers should incorporate landscape elements such as trees, copses, water features, hedgerows or stone walls into the design and that any existing features are retained where possible. Associated facilities in this context would include club houses, sports shops, and car parks.

15.16 The County Council will carefully assess the possible impact of driving range proposals. Such developments generally incorporate floodlighting, extensive fencing and car parking, which can have a substantial impact on the appearance of the countryside. Their development in isolation from golf courses could introduce an unwelcome urban element into the countryside and will not be permitted.


SR4 Protecting Recreational Open Space

Development which would result in the loss of playing fields, play areas, informal recreation areas, and other recreational open space will be permitted only where:

  1. there is already adequate recreational open space in the surrounding area; and
  2. the County Council as local planning authority is satisfied that the land will not be required in the longer term for school or community use; and
  3. the site has no visual or amenity value worthy of retention; or
  4. facilities can best be retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site; or
  5. where the development of the site would result in an under-provision of open space in the surrounding area, an equivalent area of replacement space is provided in an appropriate location.

15.17 Playing fields, informal recreation areas and play areas are of special significance to the local community for their public recreational value and their contribution to the urban environment. This policy is intended to ensure that such spaces are protected from other development as advised in paragraphs 11.1.1 -11.1.2 of PPW. In particular this policy reflects TAN 16 which advises that "undeveloped land which has recreational value should be protected if there is or would be a deficiency in accessible public open space in the area. Given their recreational or amenity value school playing fields should only be disposed of where it is clearly demonstrated that they will not be required in the longer term for school or community use".

15.18 The National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) 'six acre standard' sets a minimum target of 2.43 hectares (six acres) of outdoor play space per 1000 population. Until any alternative guidance is subsequently adopted by the Council, this will be the minimum standard against which the adequacy of existing open space will be measured. It applies to a variety of different types of open space, ranging from organised sports pitches to more informal parks. In instances where any enhancement of, or replacement space, is provided, the Council may require a particular type of space be provided to meet any identified shortfall, and that it should be within 5 minutes safe walking distance of the population which it serves.

15.19 In addition to the above, there may be open spaces which are not actively used by the public, but which nevertheless merit protection for their contribution to the character and appearance of a town or village. Development proposals affecting such areas will be considered under the green spaces policy in the Landscape chapter of the plan.


Other key policies:


SR5 Outdoor Playing Space and New Residential Development

New residential development will normally be expected to include outdoor playing space at a minimum rate of 2.4 hectares per 1000 population, this provision will include outdoor sport and recreation space together with equipped play space. In exceptional circumstances, where it is not possible to provide open space on the development site, then suitable off site provision or contributions to new or improved facilities, including equipment, will be sought.

15.20 In the past new housing development has often taken place without the provision of sufficient open space to meet the needs of children and adults. This policy seeks to ensure that future development is suitably catered for in the provision of outdoor playing space. The minimum amount of outdoor playing space required by the policy relates to the number and size of the dwellings proposed and is based on the standard of 2.4ha of outdoor playing space for every 1,000 residents. It is split into two types of land:

  1. children’s playing space at 0.8 ha per 1,000 population, and
  2. sports grounds for use by all at 1.6 ha per 1,000 population.

15.21 The children’s playing space should be comprised of formal equipped playing space (0.25 ha) and informal playing space (0.55 ha). The sports grounds should be split into land for sports pitches (1.2 ha) and outdoor formal recreation (0.4 ha).

15.22 All new housing developments, including those for single dwellings or for a small number of dwellings, should contribute towards the provision of outdoor playing space. This includes dwelling gains from redevelopments and conversions where additional residential units are created.

15.23 The Council will use planning obligations and conditions imposed on planning permissions in order to guarantee that the outdoor playing spaces provided under this policy are suitably landscaped, transferred to the Council free of charge, and that provision is made for their subsequent maintenance.

15.24 In all circumstances the Council will seek primarily to secure the provision of outdoor playing space as part of the development. It will be the sole responsibility of the Council to determine the location of such provision.In general, outdoor playing space should always be provided on site, however there will be some occasions when this is not possible. In such instances, developers will be expected to make provision off site. It will not usually be realistic for developers of small schemes (i.e. under 10 additional dwellings) to provide playing space on site. However, they will be expected to make a financial contribution towards the provision of outdoor playing space in the locality. In these instances, the resources will be pooled in order to provide adequate, appropriate and accessible outdoor playing spaces in suitable locations.


Other key policies:


SR6 Allotments

Proposals for the redevelopment of allotments for other uses will be permitted only where it can be demonstrated that:

  1. sustained demand for the use of the site has ceased; or
  2. ground conditions are no longer favourable or cannot be suitably improved; or
  3. alternative allotment land of at least equivalent quality and of similar size is offered in exchange.

Where development would be permitted, but the Council considers that there is a shortfall of open space in a town or village, an appropriate portion of the site should be made available for publicly accessible open space.

15.25 Allotments should be protected from redevelopment, wherever possible due to their local value in fulfilling a unique recreation role.

15.26 Allotments do not provide publicly accessible open space in the fullest sense because of their restricted access. Nevertheless, when no longer required for their original purpose, they offer potential to alleviate shortfalls in publicly accessible open space, especially when other open land in the area is limited. In such circumstances, the County Council will be concerned to ensure that their potential contribution to public open space is fully taken into account before allowing their release for other uses.


SR7 Allocated Sites for Outdoor Playing Space

The land adjacent to Lilac Drive Penyffordd/ Penymynydd (1.6 ha) is allocated for outdoor sport and recreation and identified on the proposals maps.

15.27 The site identified at Penyffordd / Penymynydd will assist in bringing the provision of outdoor recreation space to the recommended standards. The allocation is well related to the existing settlement and will not have an adverse environmental impact.


SR8 The Dee Estuary Corridor

Development proposals within and along the Dee Estuary Corridor will be permitted only where the proposal:

  1. does not detract from the recreational value of the Estuary Corridor;
  2. would not have a significant adverse effect on, or affect the integrity of, any Ramsar or Natura 2000 site;
  3. where appropriate improves access to, from, and around the Corridor for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders;
  4. enhances the attractiveness of the Dee Estuary for the public’s enjoyment; and
  5. preserves and enhances nature conservation and landscape assets.

15.28 For the purpose of this policy the Dee Estuary Corridor is regarded as being land and estuary to the North of the A548. The coastal strip is a vital feature of the County not only for its historic, archaeological, nature conservation and landscape value, but also for the range of recreational opportunities it provides. Therefore, any development proposal which would unacceptably harm areas of nature conservation, landscape, historic, archaeological or biodiversity importance will not be permitted. Recognising the importance of the Dee Estuary, this policy seeks to enhance the quality of the Dee Estuary Corridor whilst protecting the area from insensitive development and is consistent with the aims of the Dee Estuary Strategy.

15.29 Central to the approach to the Dee is the enhancement of the “estuary experience” through relatively soft developments such as the development of recreation areas, walking or cycling routes and environmental enhancement schemes which would increase access to and along the Dee. As part of this approach it will be important to provide landscape, historical and wildlife interpretation of the Dee Estuary.

15.30 Along the Dee Estuary Corridor there is significant potential to strengthen the integrity of the route by focusing complementary developments at key points which could increase the route’s attractiveness to the public. Sites such as Wepre Riverside Park; Flint Point; the former Bettisfield Colliery; and the Point of Ayr are all sites where complementary facilities could be developed to enhance the experience of the entire Dee Estuary Corridor. Indeed such is the potential of the route that enhancement measures could be achieved cost effectively through the integration of countryside projects with derelict land and flood prevention schemes.


Other key policies:

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