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

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Chapter 16

Tourism

Relevant Strategic Aims

m. Tourism

Policy Objectives
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Policy List
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  1. LOCATION - to guide tourism development to locations which are accessible wherever practicable from main settlements by public transport or on foot
  2. HARMONY - to promote tourism developments which have minimal detrimental impact on the natural and built environment and on local communities
  3. RURAL DIVERSIFICATION - to promote diversification through small scale rural tourism
  4. ENHANCEMENT - to bring about the improved quality and reduced environmental impacts of certain forms of holiday accommodation by permitting minor extensions

T1 Tourist Attractions

T2 Serviced Tourist Accommodation

T3 Self-Catering Tourist Accommodation

T4 New Static Caravans and Chalet Holiday Sites

T5 Extension of Existing Static Caravan and Chalet Holiday Sites

T6 Touring Caravan Sites

T7 Tent Camping Sites

T8 Holiday Occupancy Conditions

T9 Small Scale Tourism Based Farm Diversification

T10 Greenfield Valley

Indicators of Policy Performance

Targets

  1. Applications for holiday accommodation granted permission/refused
  2. Number and proportion of second homes
  3. Amount, type and location of tourist development
  4. Employment generation / contribution to local economy
  5. Trip generation by type of transport
  6. Improvements to static caravan sites
  7. Tourist accommodation surveys
  8. % brownfield land/buildings developed
  9. Number of applications to remove/vary occupancy conditions
  10. Visitor numbers

 

 

16 Tourism

Introduction

16.1 Tourism is principally concerned with attractions and accommodation catering for people from outside the Plan area to visit Flintshire. Tourism has been a growing sector of the UK economy in recent years reflecting a growth in mobility, personal incomes and leisure time. It has also been the subject of significant changes over recent decades as people have moved away from the traditional seaside holiday in favour of new forms of tourist attractions, accommodation and activities. It can generate considerable benefits for the local economy, bringing money into an area, providing jobs and playing a key role in rural development and urban regeneration. However, it can also have negative impacts in terms of traffic congestion, harm to sensitive natural environments and the amenity of residents. It is therefore essential that there is a positive policy framework in the Plan to encourage tourism development which embraces the principles of sustainability.

 

National Planning Policy

16.2 The Welsh Government’s objectives for tourism are:

16.3 Planning Policy Wales seeks to ensure that planning authorities provide the framework for well located, good quality tourist facilities. Areas and facilities provided in both urban and rural areas should be sensitive to the needs of the 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.

16.4 In line with general principles, encouragement is given to the use of previously used land and existing buildings. Planning Policy Wales also sets out in section 11.2 a number of other functions to be performed by UDPs, which are summarised below:

16.5 Further advice is contained in para 4 of Planning Guidance (Wales) TAN 13 which states ‘Development plans may provide guidance on opportunities for larger scale or innovative projects, appropriate facilities for the countryside or designated areas and the provision of facilities in historic towns and seaside resorts.’

 

Flintshire Context

16.6 Tourism is possibly an area of the local economy which is underdeveloped in Flintshire as it is often overlooked by visitors on their way west to the more well known attractions of Snowdonia and the North Wales seaside towns. However the tourist attractions of Flintshire are ideal for short breaks, a stop off en-route, or a day out. They include the Clwydian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the traditional seaside resort of Talacre Beach, the Greenfield Valley Heritage Park and Wepre Park along with traditional market towns such as Mold.

16.7 The most recent tourist accommodation survey for N.E. Wales was in 1995, which identified a total of 28,361 bedspaces for Flintshire of which 22,361 bedspaces were accounted for by static caravans. The Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Model (STEAM) has been adopted by North Wales Authorities and has estimated a total tourism expenditure within Flintshire of £107m in 2001 and some 2.4m tourist visits. Approximately 2,000 full time equivalent jobs are estimated to be supported by the tourism industry in Flintshire.

16.8 The Council’s Flintshire Regeneration Strategy 2009-2020 and the Flintshire Tourism Strategy 2008 - 2013 out to realise the potential of tourism within the County through:

16.9 It is essential that the Plan adopts a sustainable approach to tourism development so that the needs of visitors to the area are satisfied in a manner which provides a positive impetus for the protection and enhancement of these natural and historic resources. This is particularly important as the attraction for tourists is often based upon the quality of the natural, built and cultural environment.

16.10 Guiding development towards existing settlements will contribute a number of significant benefits: the protection of areas of natural beauty; the dispersion of the economic benefits of tourism development across the Plan area; and the reduction of the need to travel by car, minimising the take up of greenfield sites. This will also have the added advantage of making tourism facilities available to cater for the needs of the local community. The re-use of brownfield land and buildings both in urban and rural areas accessible from the main settlements by public transport or alternative means of transport will be preferred.

16.11 Given the tendency for holidays and short breaks being taken throughout the year, tourism proposals which extend the holiday season or provide wet weather facilities would make an important contribution to tourism in the County. This could take the form of new purpose-built attractions or improvements to existing tourism facilities.

16.12 There is potential to integrate tourism with environmental improvements such as improved access to the countryside, the diversification of agriculture and rural areas, cultural and heritage based initiatives as well as outdoor based and specialist activities. The Plan provides support and guidance for small rural tourist enterprises as changes in the agricultural industry require that priority is given to diversification of the rural economy to provide rural job opportunities.

 

Policies

T1 Tourist Attractions

Development of new or extensions to existing tourist attractions will be permitted within defined settlement boundaries utilising vacant, redundant or underused land and buildings where practicable, or outside defined settlement limits, where it is essential to have a rural location, in the form of:

  1. the expansion of existing tourist attractions; or
  2. the conversion of existing buildings; or
  3. the construction of new buildings where the proposal is dependant upon a geographically restricted natural or historic resource or activity and no suitable existing buildings are available;

provided that in all cases the development:

  1. would be appropriate in terms of scale, type and character to its location and setting;
  2. would not unacceptably harm the natural or historic built resources of the area;
  3. would improve awareness and understanding of Welsh Language and Culture where possible;
  4. would cater for the needs of local visitors in addition to tourists;
  5. where appropriate is accessible by a choice of modes of travel, particularly by foot, cycle or public transport ; and
  6. would not have a significant adverse impact on features or areas of landscape, nature conservation or historic value.

16.13 This policy seeks to guide new tourism development towards existing settlements and promote the re-use of existing land and buildings which are vacant, underused or derelict. Elsewhere, the policy generally limits tourism development to conversions of existing buildings and extensions of existing tourist attractions. Development "related to a geographically restricted resource" would be that in connection with features of the natural or historic environment or outdoor activity and might include visitor or interpretation centres or development associated with outdoor activities. All proposals outside existing settlements will need to establish why a rural location is necessary.

16.14 The policy seeks to ensure that tourist attractions are sensitive to their surroundings in terms of the environment, local culture and the needs of local people. Tourism development must meet the needs of visitors to the area without compromising the natural and cultural assets on which the industry is based or adversely affecting the amenity of local residents. Facilities should also cater, wherever possible, for the leisure needs of the local community. This aim will be assisted by seeking to ensure that tourism developments are accessible by means of travel other than the car.

 

T2 Serviced Tourist Accommodation

Development of new or extensions to existing hotels and other serviced tourist accommodation will be permitted within settlements. Outside defined settlement boundaries development will be permitted in the form of:

  1. the extension of an existing viable hotel or other serviced tourist accommodation;
  2. the conversion of existing buildings whereby:
  1. the building is structurally sound and capable of conversion without extensive rebuilding, extension or alteration tantamount to the erection of a new building;
  2. any traditional historic or architectural features of merit are retained; and
  3. any curtilage included to provide amenity space or associated parking or other facilities should not harm the character and appearance of the area;

provided that in all cases the development:

  1. would be appropriate in terms of scale, type and character to its location and setting;
  2. would not have a significant adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/ property or the community in general;
  3. where appropriate, is accessible by a choice of modes of travel, particularly by foot, cycle or public transport; and
  4. would not have a significant adverse impact on features or areas of landscape, nature conservation or historic value.

16.15 This policy seeks to improve the provision, range and quality of serviced tourist accommodation in appropriate locations in the Plan area by facilitating such development within settlements and outside settlement boundaries through the conversion of existing buildings or extension of existing establishments. The policy will provide the basis to enable the expansion and improvement of existing hotels and guest houses in terms of additional bedspaces or improved facilities such as conference / business facilities and leisure facilities. Such an approach supports the economy of local villages and towns; reduces the development of greenfield sites; and uses existing built resources. The policy also reduces the need to travel by ensuring that new developments are accessible by means of travel other than the car.

16.16 Forms of serviced tourist accommodation vary from large high quality hotels to farm bed & breakfast accommodation. The type and scale of facility will depend on the character of the building, site and locality in terms of visual impact, and impact on amenity in terms of noise, activity and hours of operation. These considerations will apply to both new proposals and the extension of existing establishments. Proposals involving listed buildings or conservation areas or in sensitive landscapes such as historic parks and gardens or the AONB will be the subject of close scrutiny, having regard to policies in the natural and built environment chapters.

 

T3 Self-Catering Tourist Accommodation

New self-catering tourist accommodation will be permitted within defined settlements. Outside defined settlement boundaries development will be permitted in the form of:

  1. extension to existing tourist accommodation facilities; or
  2. the conversion of existing buildings whereby:
  1. the building is structurally sound and capable of conversion without extensive rebuilding, extension or alteration tantamount to the erection of a new dwelling;
  2. any traditional historic or architectural features of merit are retained; and
  3. any curtilage included to provide amenity space or associated parking or other facilities should not harm the character and appearance of the area;

provided that in all cases the development must:

  1. be appropriate in terms of scale, type and character to the building and site and its location and setting;
  2. not have a significant adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/property or the community in general;
  3. where appropriate, be accessible by a choice of modes of travel, particularly by foot, cycle or public transport; and
  4. not have significant adverse impact on features or areas of landscape, nature conservation or historic value.

16.17 This policy seeks to improve the provision and range of permanent, quality tourist accommodation whilst not increasing the pressure on existing housing stock in rural areas. It is difficult to define the extent of ‘small scale’ extension to existing tourist facilities as this will depend on the characteristics of the existing buildings, site, surroundings and the proposed extension.

16.18 Where rural buildings are reused as tourist accommodation they could then easily serve as permanent residences. Government planning guidance only allows for the establishment of new homes in the open countryside in a very limited number of situations. Therefore this policy provides tight guidelines for the reuse of buildings as tourist accommodation. Circumstances may arise when the Council will grant planning permission for the conversion of buildings in rural areas into holiday accommodation where the proposals would not be acceptable for permanent residential use, for instance due to lesser standards of parking or facilities provided. In such circumstances holiday occupancy conditions will be imposed on new tourist accommodation to prevent the use of the building as a permanent residence. Existing buildings should be of sufficient size to be converted for the intended use without the need for extension or significant alteration and any features of architectural or historic merit should be retained as part of the conversion scheme. To avoid detrimentally affecting the character of the building any further extension to the building will be prevented through the removal of permitted development rights in certain circumstances.

 

T4 New Static Caravans and Chalet Holiday Sites

In the Talacre, Gronant and Gwespyr area, development of new static holiday caravan or chalet sites will not be permitted in the area depicted on the proposals map. Elsewhere development of new static holiday caravan or chalet sites will be permitted where:

  1. the scale of the proposal together with the number, siting and layout of units, circulation roads and service buildings is appropriate to the characteristics of the site and locality;
  2. the scheme incorporates substantial internal and structural landscaping;
  3. the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on features or areas of landscape, nature conservation or historic value;
  4. where appropriate, the site is easily accessible from the local highway network and is accessible by a choice of modes of travel, particularly by foot, cycle or public transport; and
  5. the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/property or the community in general;

16.19 In addition to the need to improve the quality of the area's caravan and chalet accommodation the impact of caravan or chalet sites on the landscape must also be considered. The majority of existing sites and demand for sites is greatest in areas of higher scenic value, where there is limited capacity to accommodate further development without a significant detrimental effect on the appearance of the landscape. It is considered that the open character of the coast and the sand dune system around Talacre, Gronant and Gwespyr are important features which have already been extensively affected by caravan site development and the policy does not allow for new caravan sites in this area.

16.20 The scale of the proposal will depend on whether the number, siting and layout of units is appropriate given the characteristics of the site and its surroundings. It is relevant to note that paragraph 16.23 applies to both policy T4 New Static Caravans and Chalet Holiday Sites and policy T5 Extension of Existing Static Caravan and Chalet Holiday Sites.

 

Other key policies:

 

T5 Extension of Existing Static Caravan and Chalet Holiday Sites

The modest extension of existing sites will be permitted only where:

  1. any increase in the number of standings or units is marginal;
  2. the proposal involves only a modest physical extension of the site area;
  3. the scheme incorporates substantial internal and structural landscaping, demonstrates significant improvement to the environment of the site and a reduction of its impact on the surrounding landscape;
  4. the proposal involves improved on-site facilities; and
  5. the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/property or the community in general.

The replacement of static holiday caravans by chalet development and the general upgrading and remodelling of existing parks will be permitted where the proposals improve the overall quality of the accommodation and the appearance of the site.

16.21 The policy allows for the modest expansion of existing caravan and chalet parks provided that there are significant landscape improvements and environmental improvements together with improved on site facilities. Normally the improved siting and layout of units, together with improved internal circulation, parking areas and landscaping would result in the same number or slightly less units being accommodated. However, it is recognised that there may be limited instances where such improvements could result in an increase in the number of units or standings. Provided that the increase is marginal i.e. no greater than 10%, and the increased number of units does not unacceptably harm the appearance of the site then this will be acceptable. The extension of the area should also be modest i.e. approximately 10%, although this will depend on the suitability of utilising any existing boundary or screening, or identifying a logical new boundary, subject to any boundary being landscaped in an appropriate manner. Landscape improvements may also be necessary to other existing boundaries in order to reduce the visual impact of sites. The objective of any landscaping scheme will be to bring about the integration of the development and the site with the wider landscape. The Council will require design and access information commensurate with the scale and type of development proposed to accompany all applications that are subject of this policy.

16.22 Particular attention will be given to proposals for modest extensions along the coast, given the flat and open character of the coast, the prominence of developments and the difficulty in devising landscaping schemes which are appropriate for a coastal location yet able to provide satisfactorily screening. Whilst not allowing ‘new’ developments along the coast, it is recognised that significant improvements to the appearance and quality of existing sites are unlikely, without the flexibility and opportunity for additional investment made possible by allowing minor extensions.

16.23 Policies T4 and T5 above concern only the use of land for static caravans and other non permanent structures occupied for holiday purposes. They do not apply to the residential use of such structures, in respect of which policies are contained in the housing chapter. Guidance on model standards which should be applied to the design and layout of static caravan sites, and of the facilities and amenities they should contain, is given in Welsh Office Circular 23/89. Planning conditions may be applied to permitted static caravan or chalet sites to limit the use to particular times of year and to holiday occupancy. In addition to planning permission caravan sites generally require a site licence from the local authority.

 

Other key policies:

 

T6 Touring Caravan Sites

New touring caravan sites will only be permitted where:

  1. the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/property or the community in general;
  2. the scale of the proposal, together with the number, siting and layout of pitches and circulation roads, is appropriate to the characteristics of the site and locality;
  3. the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on features or areas of landscape, nature conservation or historic value;
  4. the scheme incorporates substantial internal and structural landscaping;
  5. it is in close proximity to and can be easily accessed from the local highway network;
  6. it is used for touring caravan purposes and any touring caravans are removed from the site for periods when not in use; and
  7. any essential service buildings that are needed can be provided within existing buildings or appropriately sited and designed small new buildings.

The extension of existing sites will be permitted only where:

  1. any increase in the number of pitches is marginal;
  2. any physical extension of the site is modest;
  3. the scheme incorporates substantial internal and external structural landscaping, demonstrates significant improvement to the environment of the site and a reduction of its impact on the surrounding landscape;
  4. the proposal involves improved on-site facilities;
  5. the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/property or the community in general; and
  6. any touring caravans are removed when not in use.

16.24 This policy is concerned with the use of land for touring caravan sites and is not directed at residential or gypsy / new age traveller caravan provision. It seeks to encourage proposals for touring caravan sites but only where they minimise the effect on the surrounding area, either utilising existing screening or through new landscaping measures as part of the proposal. Service or reception facilities should ideally be incorporated in existing buildings or through appropriately sited and well designed small new buildings. Any new sites should be located in close proximity to the local highway network and the roads should be suitable for use by vehicles towing caravans or by motorhomes. Proposals for new touring caravan sites within the coastal strip will be the subject of close scrutiny to ensure that the open character and appearance of the coastal landscape will not be harmed. The provisions of policy L6 The Coast will be particularly relevant.

16.25 Sites should be used for touring purposes only and planning permissions may contain appropriate conditions to ensure that caravans are removed when not in use to prevent the outside storage of caravans.

16.26 Guidance on model standards which should be applied to the design and layout of touring caravan sites and the facilities and amenities they should contain is given in Welsh Office Circular 32/83. In addition to planning permission caravan sites generally require a licence from the local authority.

16.27 The policy allows for the modest extension of existing touring caravan sites. Any increase in the number of pitches or site area should be no greater than 10%. Increasing the site area will depend upon the suitability of utilising any existing boundary or screening or identifying a logical new boundary that will be appropriately landscaped. Particular attention will be given to proposals to extend existing sites in the coastal area, given its flat and open character, the prominence of developments and the difficulty of devising landscaping schemes that are appropriate for a coastal location yet provide satisfactory screening. As set out in policy D1 all applications should be accompanied by design information commensurate with the scale and type of development proposed.

 

T7 Tent Camping Sites

New tent camping sites or the extension of existing sites will only be permitted where:

  1. the proposal occupies an inconspicuous or well screened site and / or can be assimilated into the landscape through landscaping measures;
  2. any essential service buildings can be provided within existing buildings or appropriately sited and designed small new buildings; and
  3. it would not have a significant adverse impact on features or areas of landscape, nature conservation or historic value.

16.28 Although camp site proposals can often accommodate both touring caravans and tents, tent camping is considered separately as such proposals will generally have a lesser impact on the environment and have less exacting access requirements. The Council wish to encourage such provision and tent camping sites may be appropriate in the AONB or along the coast, particularly as part of farm diversification measures or in association with outdoor activities.

16.29 Often, proposals will involve a mix of tent pitches and touring caravan pitches and it will be necessary for planning applications to identify whether these areas are separate (and the numbers of pitches in each) or whether there will be any areas with shared use to allow for flexibility in terms of the operation of the site. Proposals involving a mix of of touring caravans and tents will normally be assessed against policy T6 Touring Caravan Sites, given that touring caravans generally have a greater impact on the environment than tents.

16.30 The use of land for tent camping for less than 28 days per year does not require planning permission under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).

 

Other key policies:

 

T8 Holiday Occupancy Conditions

Planning permission granted for self serviced tourist accommodation, including converted buildings, caravans and chalets will be accompanied by planning conditions to:

  1. restrict occupancy to holiday use; or
  2. restrict occupancy to certain periods of the year.

16.31 The Plan seeks to increase the quantity and diversity of holiday accommodation available in Flintshire. It is also necessary to have regard to the growing demand for holidays throughout the year and the economic benefits to be gained from extending the traditional summer vacation period. Of concern is that holiday accommodation might otherwise be used as permanent housing given that many of the standards which may apply to holiday accommodation, such as the amount of private open space, are below what is acceptable for permanent residential accommodation.

16.32 The Plan seeks to prevent permanent occupation of unsuitable or substandard accommodation such as caravans, having regard also to the pressure of tourism accommodation on local services. In such cases seasonal occupancy conditions will be imposed on new tourist accommodation, restricting the use of holiday accommodation as a permanent residence. In the case of permanent buildings, the use of accommodation for holiday use only, rather than permanent residential use, often has a lower impact on the surrounding area and puts less pressure on local services such as schools and health care. However, if the occupants were using the building as a base to go to work, or their children were being educated locally, there would be a strong case to argue that the holiday occupancy condition applied to the accommodation was not being complied with and the Council might then proceed with enforcement action.

16.33 In order for the Council to be able to effectively enforce such planning conditions it may be appropriate for the applicant to set out how the accommodation or pitches will be restricted to holiday use. Agreement with the Council on how the development can be monitored without intrusive checks on occupants will be helpful.

 

Other Key Policies

 

T9 Small Scale Tourism Based Farm Diversification

Farm based tourism proposals will be permitted in accordance with policy RE5.

16.34 In order to ensure long term survival, many farm holdings are embarking on farm diversification schemes as a way of supplementing farm income. In terms of tourism this can take many forms such as providing serviced or self catering accommodation, food related commercial activities, outdoor activities or arts and crafts. Appropriate guidance on tourism based farm diversification is set out in policy RE5 ‘Small Scale Farm Diversification’ in the Rural Enterprise and Agriculture chapter.

 

Other key policies:

 

T10 Greenfield Valley

Development proposals within or adjoining the Greenfield Valley, as designated on the proposals map, will be permitted where they do not detract from the tourism potential of the Valley or harm areas or features of landscape, nature conservation or historic value.

16.35 The Greenfield Valley is a highly accessible location which makes a considerable contribution to the cultural resources of the area. It is a significant tourist attraction based principally on the historic interpretation of the Valley. The County Council will therefore favourably consider any proposals which support its continued development as a visitor destination and do not harm the landscape, nature conservation and historic features which contribute to its special character. Other development proposals may be permitted in or adjacent to the Valley provided that they do not harm its special character and features.

16.36 The Council is particularly concerned to improve the linkages between the Greenfield Valley and the historic market town of Holywell.

 

Other Key Policies:

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