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Support

Proposed Main Modifications

MM155 - Page 108 Policy HC1 (ED155)

Representation ID: 6867

Received: 13/02/2019

Respondent: Sport England - East Region

Representation:

The modification to Policy HC1 is supported as this would allow the policy to be consistent with paragraph 97 of the NPPF (paragraph 74 in the 2012 NPPF).

Full text:

The modification to Policy HC1 is supported as this would allow the policy to be consistent with paragraph 97 of the NPPF (paragraph 74 in the 2012 NPPF).

Support

Proposed Main Modifications

MM156 - Page 108 paragraph 10.5 (ED155)

Representation ID: 6868

Received: 13/02/2019

Respondent: Sport England - East Region

Representation:

The modification to paragraph 10.5 is supported as this confirms the importance attached to the shared use of school facilities for meeting the community's needs especially in relation to sports facilities. This would also be consistent with paragraph 92 of the NPPF (paragraph 70 in the 2012 NPPF).

Full text:

The modification to paragraph 10.5 is supported as this confirms the importance attached to the shared use of school facilities for meeting the community's needs especially in relation to sports facilities. This would also be consistent with paragraph 92 of the NPPF (paragraph 70 in the 2012 NPPF).

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

MM300 - Page 182 Policy LG4 (ED146B)

Representation ID: 6869

Received: 13/02/2019

Respondent: Sport England - East Region

Legally compliant? Yes

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? Yes

Representation:

Objection is made to the modification. It should be emphasised that Sport England is not objecting to the principle of the residential allocation or seeking to protect the site from being developed in order to meet current or future community playing field needs. The site is not surplus to requirements as demonstrated by the Council's playing pitch strategy and therefore mitigation is justified to ensure the policy is consistent with the NPPF. What is being sought is for the policy to require proportionate and appropriate mitigation for the permanent loss of the opportunity to meet current/future community playing pitch needs.

Full text:

Objection is made to this modification. In our representations on the pre-submission plan, Sport England specifically supported the requirement in this allocation for the loss of open space to be justified and re-provision or contributions towards improvements to existing provision. The requirement was included in the policy following representations made by Sport England earlier in the local plan process. The approach in the policy was considered to broadly accord with Government planning policy on playing fields set out in paragraph 97 of the NPPF (paragraph 74 in the 2012 NPPF).

It should be emphasised that Sport England is not objecting to the principle of the residential allocation or seeking to protect the site from being developed in order to meet current or future community playing field needs. What is being sought is for the policy to require proportionate and appropriate mitigation for the permanent loss of the opportunity to meet current/future community playing pitch needs. The potential role that closed school playing fields can play in meeting playing pitch needs in general terms is set out on page 20 of the Council's Playing Pitch Strategy & Action Plan (December 2018) https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home/planning/planning-policy/planning-strategies/sports-strategies which has been adopted by the Council and published since the local plan examination hearings. When the Council's strategy and action plan was being prepared in 2015/16, Sport England and the sports governing bodies (that represent grassroots community sport) did not seek the specific protection of this site for meeting the playing pitch deficiencies in the Letchworth area. This was partly because the site was proposed to be allocated for residential in the emerging local plan (and Sport England did not want to unnecessarily frustrate the Council from meeting its housing needs) and partly because there were alternative solutions for addressing the deficiencies in football, rugby and cricket pitch provision as set out in the action plan e.g. additional 3G artificial grass pitches and improvements to the quality of existing grass pitches . However, all of these alternatives will require significant funding to be realised. The pragmatic approach taken by Sport England and the sports governing bodies through the preparation of the strategy and action plan was that the allocation of this site would not be resisted if mitigation could be made in the form of financial contributions being secure towards the delivery of the alternative solutions identified in the action plan. The proposed modification would remove this requirement and the delivery of the solutions would then be more dependent on the community (including NHDC and clubs in the voluntary sector) finding the resources.

As accepted by the Council in Examination Document ED146B which explains the rationale for the modification, there are current and/or future deficiencies in football, cricket and rugby pitch provision in Letchworth so the site is not considered to be surplus to requirements in relation to paragraph 97 of the NPPF (paragraph 74 in the 2012 NPPF). While the strategy has not identified a requirement to bring the site back into use at present, this is because the alternatives are being focused on instead. However, there is no certainty that these alternative solutions will be delivered and developer contributions are expected to play a significant role in their delivery. If there was no requirement for this allocation (and others) to make re-provision in the form of contributions, then it is considered more likely that there would be a need to bring such sites back into use for meeting pitch needs when the strategy and action plan is next reviewed. In relation to new playing pitch provision provided on major new residential allocations (as set out in the Council's case in ED146B), there is no certainty that the playing fields proposed within these developments will be suitable for meeting the identified needs or will be delivered in a suitable timescale to meet such needs. Furthermore, it would be inappropriate in terms of planning policy to seek to use new playing pitches that are provided to meet the needs of new developments for addressing the current needs of existing communities.

Sport England understands the Inspector's concern that the site should not be allocated for residential if the requirement remains in the policy to justify the loss of the open space as this offers uncertainty in terms of delivery and the site cannot be both protected open space and allocated for development. Sport England would also not expect the former playing fields to be re-provided on an equivalent/better basis because the playing pitch strategy has identified alternative solutions for addressing needs. The proposal for addressing our concerns would therefore be for the policy to be modified along the following lines:

Justification for any loss of open space. Re-provision or contributions towards improvements to existing provision where appropriate. Appropriate contributions should be made towards improvements to existing outdoor sports facility provision;

This would address the issue of the loss of open space having to be justified to allow the development to be delivered and would not require re-provision of the site which would be more onerous for the developer to deliver in view of the absence of suitable sites in the area. However, it would address the need for playing field mitigation which could be directed through developer contributions being used towards the delivery of priority projects which would address current and future playing pitch needs which in turn would justify the site not being retained for meeting these needs. It would also allow the policy to remain consistent with the NPPF because if the alternative solutions for addressing needs were delivered partly through the developer contributions then the site would be genuinely surplus to requirements in terms of meeting playing pitch needs.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

MM304 - Page 184 Policy LG10 (ED146B)

Representation ID: 6870

Received: 13/02/2019

Respondent: Sport England - East Region

Legally compliant? Yes

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? Yes

Representation:

Objection is made to the modification. It should be emphasised that Sport England is not objecting to the principle of the residential allocation or seeking to protect the site from being developed in order to meet current or future community playing field needs. The site is not surplus to requirements as demonstrated by the Council's playing pitch strategy and therefore mitigation is justified to ensure the policy is consistent with the NPPF. What is being sought is for the policy to require proportionate and appropriate mitigation for the permanent loss of the opportunity to meet current/future community playing pitch needs.

Full text:

Objection is made to this modification. In our representations on the pre-submission plan, Sport England specifically supported the requirement in this allocation for the loss of outdoor sports facilities to be justified and re-provision or contributions towards improvements to existing provision. The requirement was included in the policy following representations made by Sport England earlier in the local plan process. The approach in the policy was considered to broadly accord with Government planning policy on playing fields set out in paragraph 97 of the NPPF (paragraph 74 in the 2012 NPPF).

It should be emphasised that Sport England is not objecting to the principle of the residential allocation or seeking to protect the site from being developed in order to meet current or future community playing field needs. What is being sought is for the policy to require proportionate and appropriate mitigation for the permanent loss of the opportunity to meet current/future community playing pitch needs. The potential role that closed school playing fields can play in meeting playing pitch needs in general terms is set out on page 20 of the Council's Playing Pitch Strategy & Action Plan (December 2018) https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home/planning/planning-policy/planning-strategies/sports-strategies which has been adopted by the Council and published since the local plan examination hearings. When the Council's strategy and action plan was being prepared in 2015/16, Sport England and the sports governing bodies (that represent grassroots community sport) did not seek the specific protection of this site for meeting the playing pitch deficiencies in the Letchworth area. This was partly because the site was proposed to be allocated for residential in the emerging local plan (and Sport England did not want to unnecessarily frustrate the Council from meeting its housing needs) and partly because there were alternative solutions for addressing the deficiencies in football, rugby and cricket pitch provision as set out in the action plan e.g. additional 3G artificial grass pitches and improvements to the quality of existing grass pitches . However, all of these alternatives will require significant funding to be realised. The pragmatic approach taken by Sport England and the sports governing bodies through the preparation of the strategy and action plan was that the allocation of this site would not be resisted if mitigation could be made in the form of financial contributions being secure towards the delivery of the alternative solutions identified in the action plan. The proposed modification would remove this requirement and the delivery of the solutions would then be more dependent on the community (including NHDC and clubs in the voluntary sector) finding the resources.

As accepted by the Council in Examination Document ED146B which explains the rationale for the modification, there are current and/or future deficiencies in football, cricket and rugby pitch provision in Letchworth so the site is not considered to be surplus to requirements in relation to paragraph 97 of the NPPF (paragraph 74 in the 2012 NPPF). While the strategy has not identified a requirement to bring the site back into use at present, this is because the alternatives are being focused on instead. However, there is no certainty that these alternative solutions will be delivered and developer contributions are expected to play a significant role in their delivery. If there was no requirement for this allocation (and others) to make re-provision in the form of contributions, then it is considered more likely that there would be a need to bring such sites back into use for meeting pitch needs when the strategy and action plan is next reviewed. In relation to new playing pitch provision provided on major new residential allocations (as set out in the Council's case in ED146B), there is no certainty that the playing fields proposed within these developments will be suitable for meeting the identified needs or will be delivered in a suitable timescale to meet such needs. Furthermore, it would be inappropriate in terms of planning policy to seek to use new playing pitches that are provided to meet the needs of new developments for addressing the current needs of existing communities.

Sport England understands the Inspector's concern that the site should not be allocated for residential if the requirement remains in the policy to justify the loss of the outdoor sports facilities as this offers uncertainty in terms of delivery and the site cannot be both protected for outdoor sport and allocated for development. Sport England would also not expect the former playing fields to be re-provided on an equivalent/better basis because the playing pitch strategy has identified alternative solutions for addressing needs. The proposal for addressing our concerns would therefore be for the policy to be modified along the following lines:

* Justification for the loss of outdoor sports facilities. Re-provision or contributions towards improvements to existing provision where appropriate. Appropriate contributions should be made towards improvements to existing outdoor sports facility provision;

This would address the issue of the loss of outdoor sports facilities having to be justified to allow the development to be delivered and would not require re-provision of the site which would be more onerous for the developer to deliver in view of the absence of suitable sites in the area. However, it would address the need for playing field mitigation which could be directed through developer contributions being used towards the delivery of priority projects which would address current and future playing pitch needs which in turn would justify the site not being retained for meeting these needs. It would also allow the policy to remain consistent with the NPPF because if the alternative solutions for addressing needs were delivered partly through the developer contributions then the site would be genuinely surplus to requirements in terms of meeting playing pitch needs.

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