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Chapter 13
COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND PUBLIC UTILITIES
 
13.1 Objectives
   
  1. To allocate land for the provision of public services, including amongst others education and health.
  2. To ensure new community facilities are provided in partnership with service providers and the voluntary sector where existing provision is insufficient, in new residential areas, and in central locations where a town wide facility is required.
  3. To facilitate the improvement of Princess Alexandra’s Hospital local health services, in accordance with sustainable principles where this pertains to land use.
  4. To enable varied provision of facilities for education and training.
  5. To facilitate the provision of other facilities required by local communities and those with special needs.
  6. To maximise the potential of existing community buildings wherever possible, including improvement or replacement where appropriate.
  7. To make appropriate provision where possible for the land use requirements of Statutory Undertakers, to serve the needs of Harlow people.
  8. To ensure that the progress of new development does not exceed the provision of the required infrastructure.
  9. To make provision where possible for the needs of new technologies where this has a land use implication.
  10. To ensure that land liable to flood is not developed, nor does development increase the risk of flooding elsewhere.
  11. To protect the public from hazardous substances, when making land use allocations, and planning decisions.
 
13.2 Community
   
13.2.1 One of the fundamental requirements of any town’s future development is the provision of its community and social infrastructure. Harlow as a former New Town has had a good history of providing community facilities, by ensuring that land is provided and safeguarded for diverse facilities such as schools, doctor’s surgeries, and churches.
13.2.2 Major town wide facilities such as the Princess Alexandra’s Hospital is looked at in terms of its long-term needs, and how the Local Plan can accommodate its requirements to consolidate it as an acute general hospital.
13.2.3 The sustainable principle of providing facilities within each neighbourhood should continue, so that schools, community centres, and health centres are within walking distance of home. However, the evolving nature of health provision requires a more flexible approach.
13.2.4 Many of the community facilities are planned to be close to where people live. Facilities that are built in or next to neighbourhood centres or hatches are preferable. Major new housing developments such as Newhall will be expected to develop new facilities for people in the locality.
 
 
CP1 Major new housing development should set aside land and make financial contributions for the provision of associated community facilities such as schools, community centres, health centres and churches. These facilities should be sited in local centres or other sustainable locations.
 
 
CP2 Where new development generates the need for additional infrastructure provision or community facilities, planning permission will only be granted where contributions that are reasonably related in scale and nature to the proposed development are secured through a legal agreement. Contributions will be sought for:
  1. The provision of on-site facilities necessary to meet the needs of the new residents in the interests of comprehensive planning; and/or
  2. Where on-site provision is not possible/practicable consideration will be given to the provision of, or improvement of off-site.
   
13.2.5 It is important that new and existing public facilities are accessible and available to all sectors of the community, including in particular for child care; young people; disabled people; the elderly including day care; and people with special needs.
 
 
CP3 New community facilities should be designed to accommodate a broad range of activities, and must be accessible to all sectors of the community, in particular:
  1. Disabled people;
  2. The elderly;
  3. People with children.
   
13.2.6 The Princess Alexandra Hospital National Health Service Trust is a small/medium size acute Trust, providing healthcare to a population of about 250,000, the majority of which live in the North Essex Health Authority and Hertfordshire Health Authority areas.
13.2.7 Rationalisation and centralisation strategies have increased demands on the hospital site, and significant building and development works have taken place. The hospital continues to develop within its site, and the Council is keen to support this, so long as development complies with the Local Plan, particularly to safeguard the amenities of adjoining homes. The Council has approved a Master Plan for the future development of the site.
 
 
CP4 The future development of Princess Alexandra Hospital will be granted planning permission subject to it according with their approved Master Plan.
   
13.2.8 The former New Town health care provision was planned to be easily available within neighbourhood areas. New housing development will generate additional demand for health centres, which will be funded by the development. However, the health care providers are continuously reviewing the service provision, and it is essential that the Local Plan can reflect this.
 
 
CP5 Additional provision and expansion of health care facilities will be supported in established health centres. New medical, dental or other health care facilities will be permitted elsewhere if all the following are met:
  1. It can be shown that it would improve provision of health care in the locality;
  2. It would not be detrimental to existing provision;
  3. It would not be detrimental to the amenities of adjacent homes and properties.
   
13.2.9 As a former New Town Harlow is fortunate to have a number of planned community facilities spread throughout the town, for example community halls, and community centres. These original facilities (some of which date back to the beginning of the New Town) may need refurbishment or even rebuilding.
 
 
CP6 Proposals involving the loss of an existing community facility will be required to replace that facility, unless it can be shown that:
  1. No replacement facility is required; or
  2. Suitable alternative facilities can be provided in the locality; or
  3. An appropriate commuted sum can be agreed.
   
13.2.10 Harlow College has located on one site after being split between two sites in the Town Centre. The College has an ongoing development plan that the Council supports. New education and training facilities will also be encouraged and supported, so long as the amenities of adjacent households are not unduly affected.
 
 
CP7 Development of education and training facilities at Harlow College and elsewhere in the district will be granted planning permission, unless the amenities of adjacent households are unduly affected.
   
13.2.11 The Essex Ambulance Service in Harlow based at Wych Elm has expressed a desire to relocate their station elsewhere in the town. The relocation of Wych Elm ambulance station would be supported. However, a site for a new ambulance station has not been identified.
 
13.3 Public Utilities
   
13.3.1 A number of public utilities have a land use requirement that needs to be addressed in the Local Plan. These requirements can range from the provision of electricity sub stations and telecommunications to water balancing ponds and sewage treatment. It is important that these requirements are identified at an early stage in the development process, as the need for many of these uses are triggered by new development. The Local Plan also enables Statutory Undertakers to prepare their investment programmes in the light of the proposals.
13.3.2 If the building of essential infrastructure is not in place or does not keep pace with new development, problems can arise from the inadequacy of the existing services, for example sewers running above capacity, or inadequate water supply. Consequently the Council will hold back development until appropriate infrastructure is in place.
13.3.3 Whilst the Council supports the requirements of all Statutory Undertakers, development should be undertaken in a sustainable manner and in accordance with the policies in the Local Plan.
 
 
CP8 The development of land for the requirements of the statutory undertakers is supported, provided that the need for such facilities outweighs any adverse land use or environmental impact or that any such adverse impact is minimised.
 
 
CP9 To allow for the proper provision of public utility services, planning permission for development that increases the demand for off-site service infrastructure will only be granted if sufficient capacity already exists or extra capacity can be provided in time to serve the proposed development. Where sufficient capacity does not exist, planning permission may be granted conditionally requiring the phasing of development to coincide with provision.
   
13.3.4 Mobile phone and other communications technology has grown exponentially. Communications technology requires the provision of aerials and masts. Conflict can occur between the needs of the company to site equipment on operationally advantageous sites and the need to protect sensitive areas.
13.3.5 Government policy is to facilitate the growth of telecommunications. PPG8 advises that the planning system should encourage and avoid hindering development in this field. However, the Government is also fully committed to preserving the national heritage and it has emphasised that the growth of telecommunications should be balanced with the need to protect the environment.
13.3.6 Whilst the Council will encourage and support these new technologies it is conscious of both the environmental impact and perceived effect on peoples health.
13.3.7 To keep to a minimum the number of masts or other structures, the Council encourages the sharing of existing masts and other structures in order to minimise the impact of telecommunications development on the environment.
13.3.8 In addition the Council will expect operators to adhere to the ICNIRP compliance for public exposure, and provide certification of compliance when submitting planning applications.
 
 
CP10 Taking due account of technical and operational requirements and the overall benefits of telecommunications, development proposals will be granted planning permission providing the following criteria are met:
  1. There would be no serious adverse effect on the character or appearance of the area;
  2. It can be demonstrated that existing masts or structures cannot be used for the purpose;
  3. There would be no adverse effect on special landscape areas, parks and gardens of historic or landscape interest, Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings, SSSIs or other statutory Nature Conservation Sites unless exceptional circumstances exist;
  4. There would be no unacceptable adverse impact on residential amenity;
  5. A certificate of compliance with ICNIRP public exposure guidelines is submitted as part of any planning application.
   
13.3.9 Another technology that has expanded is that of television broadcasting via satellite and cable. Both these have an impact on the environment in terms of satellite dishes and street junction boxes. Whilst the majority of satellite dishes are deemed permitted development under the Planning Acts they still can be an intrusion on the street scene. Communal provision would be more acceptable, where one dish serves a large area. The provision for communal reception of television broadcasts from satellites, via cable network and community satellite antennas (dish aerials) will be encouraged. Provision for cable television should be provided in new housing development from the onset to avoid unnecessary works after development is finished.
 
 
CP11 Where communal provision for the reception of television broadcasts exists or is proposed, applications for satellite antenna on dwelling houses will be resisted. On all other properties, planning permission will not be granted for microwave/satellite antennas where they are detrimental to the appearance of the building and injurious to the visual amenities of the area.
   
13.3.10 It is Government’s policy to reduce the risks of flooding to people and the developed and natural environment. Flood risk should properly be taken into account in the planning of developments to reduce the risk of flooding and the damage that floods cause. Floodplains perform the essential function of storing water during flood events. Developments within the floodplain are not only at risk of flooding but by reducing the amount of land available for storage of floodwater, and by impeding flows, they can increase the risk of flooding off site. The Environment Agency has produced “indicative floodplain maps” that should be considered when developments are proposed in the town’s river corridors.
13.3.11 Areas liable to flood in Harlow area are indicated on the Proposals Map. It is not considered that any development allocations in this Local Plan fall within a high or medium/low risk zone as indicated in PPG25. However, areas of Harlow are at risk of flooding, as shown on the Environment Agency’s indicative floodplain maps. Whilst these may not be defined as the areas to be developed in the Local Plan, any proposed developments in these areas shall only proceed in accordance with PPG25.
 
 

CP12

 

Development that will be at risk of flooding, or will contribute to flood risk or has an adverse impact on the river corridor will be resisted.
   
13.3.12 Development of green field sites usually results in an increase in the amount of impermeable land. Drains and sewers generally convey surface water from impermeable areas directly, or via a sewerage system, to a watercourse. This can alter the natural water cycle as rates and volumes of surface water reaching a watercourse generally increase. Surface water systems serving industrial, highway, residential or commercial schemes can result in pollution if prevention measures are not installed.
13.3.13 Sustainable drainage involves moving away from traditional piped drainage systems to softer engineering solutions that are closer to their natural drainage regimes. The control of surface water run-off should be as close to the origin as possible before it discharges to a watercourse or to the ground to achieve the following objectives of:
  a) Reducing the flood risk from development within a river catchment;
  b) Minimising diffuse pollution arising from surface water runoff;
  c) Minimising environmental damage, e.g. bank erosion, and damage to habitats;
  d) Maintaining or restoring the natural flow regime of the receiving watercourse;
  e) Maintaining recharge to groundwater subject to minimising the risk of pollution to groundwater;
  f) Achieving environmental enhancements, including improvement to wildlife habitats, amenity and landscape quality.
13.3.14 Where risks are identified appropriate flow attenuation facilities or mitigation measures may be a prerequisite for development. Such problems can be reduced by the use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) to control surface water run-off. Proposals should take account of water conservation and incorporate sustainable drainage systems within the design. This may include:
  a) Minimising external hard surfaces and giving preference to permeable surfaces;
  b) Attenuation of runoff to mimic natural site conditions;
  c) Use of infiltration ponds, strips or swales;
  d) Grey water reuse;
  e) Improving the quality of run-off by means of reed beds or other methods; and
  f) Designs that improve the amenity and biodiversity in urban areas.
13.3.15 Certain industries and processes involve the manufacture, use, or storage of products which may be dangerous. Under the Notifiable Installations Handling Hazardous Substances Regulations 1992, certain sites and pipelines are designated as notifiable installations by virtue of the quantities of hazardous substances used or stored.
13.3.16 The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise the Council of the consultation distances necessary around notifiable installations and the Council in accordance with Circular 04/00 will consult the HSE on any applications that are submitted within these consultation zones.
 
 

CP13

 

Planning permission will only be granted for development involving the use or storage of hazardous substances where there is no unacceptable risk to residential or other sensitive areas, or to public health and safety.
  Planning permission will not be granted for development within a Hazardous Substances Consultation Zone if it would result in an unacceptable risk to public health and safety.
13.3.17 Maintenance work to services often leads to disruption of roads, cycle ways and footpaths when digging for underground pipes and cables. To avoid this in major new developments, underground services can be provided within the verge, to the Council's standard cross section.
   
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