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Local Place Making - Community Facilities

So that the Borough remains an attractive place to live, we will draw up policies and undertaking masterplanning to ensure that new development creates good new places, or enhances existing places. Good local places may include a mix of well designed energy efficient housing with strong local community and recreational facilities, shops and services. These walkable neighbourhoods are likely to be designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, enhance the natural environment, cherish local heritage, and have good access to jobs.

Health: Access to local primary health and hospital facilities are significant local concerns, reflecting a national issue. The Council is not the provider of these services, but through the local plan, we can work with the NHS and the Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group to help make sure that for any new facilities planned, land in appropriate locations, e.g. as part of wider new housing development, is kept free for that purpose.

Schools: There is a strong positive link between education and health. New housing often generates the need for more local primary and secondary school places, and new nursery places. The Local Plan can help make sure that when new housing takes place, the developer contributes to the cost of providing new school places, whether it is with new, altered or extended buildings, and/or by reserving suitable land within large new housing schemes.

Higher education: Darlington is well provided with higher education opportunities now that Teesside University has a successful campus in the town, complementing Darlington College and Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College. We want to find out about any future plans these and other establishments may have for development over the next 20 years, to ensure that the Council does all that it can to support it through the planning system.

Pubs and other community venues: these can be valuable local meeting places, enriching sensible users with a sense of well being and community belonging. We are considering including a policy in the new Local Plan that would ensure that any proposals for the loss of the last such facilities in any community are not permitted unless it is clear that efforts have been made to look at alternative ways of retaining it and/or the functions it performs.

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Local Place Making - Community Facilities

The Theatres Trust recommends the plan recognise the importance of safeguarding cultural and community facilities. The provision of a variety of community infrastructure and cultural facilities are important for their contribution to residents and visitors life satisfaction and this should be promoted in this plan.

The importance of planning for culture and community facilities is emphasised in the National Planning Policy Framework by being included as a core planning principle (para. 17). This is supported by guidance in para. 70 of the NPPF which states that to deliver the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services that the community needs, planning policies and decisions should guard against unnecessary loss of valued facilities. Also to ensure that established facilities and services are retained and able to develop for the benefit of the community. Para. 156 also requires strategic policies to deliver community and cultural infrastructure and other local facilities

It is vital the local plan safeguard and protect existing cultural & community facilities which benefit and support sustainable communities which might otherwise be traded in for more commercially lucrative developments. To support this, we recommend a policy along the lines of:
Community Facilities
The council will resist the loss or change of use of existing community facilities unless
• replacement facilities are provided on site or within the vicinity which meet the need of the local population, or necessary services can be delivered from other facilities without leading to, or increasing, any shortfall in provision, and
• it has been demonstrated that there is no community need for the facility or demand for another community use on site.

The Policy should also contain criteria for encouraging the provision of new facilities to serve the growing population in the wider District.

For clarity, and so that guidelines are clear and consistent, the accompanying text and the Glossary should contain an explanation for the term ‘community facilities’. We recommend this succinct all inclusive description which would obviate the need to provide examples: community facilities provide for the health and wellbeing, social, educational, spiritual, recreational, leisure and cultural needs of the community.