Northampton Local Plan 1997

CHAPTER 7 : LEISURE AND TOURISM

EXISTING RECREATIONAL FACILITIES

The Need to Safeguard Facilities

7.5. Growing concern over the recent pressures to develop recreational open space is centred on the total or partial loss of private sports facilities and school playing fields. An assessment has been made of changes in playing field provision, including school grounds, over the period 1981-1993. The results in Appendix 17 illustrate that provision fell in relation to the growing population in this period. Provision in 1993 was equivalent to the minimum standard for playing  fields recommended by the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) i.e. 1.6-1.8 hectares per 1000 population. 

7.6. The East Midlands Sports Council published an assessment of playing field needs in 1989, covering the period 1981-86. It established  that sports grounds  in Northampton were well used and largely maintained to a good standard. It also found that participation was growing, a trend which  is likely to continue with local and regional bodies encouraging people to take part in sport. This assessment illustrated that current land provision for popular sports broadly meets demand. On this basis, the retention of playing fields at a level equivalent to the minimum NPFA national requirement is directly applicable to the local situation in Northampton. 

7.7.  A recent joint report by sports organisations including the NPFA recommended that, within the broader NPFA standard for outdoor playing space, there should be a minimum provision for a narrower range of sports of 1.2 hectares per 1000 population. An assessment in Appendix 18 illustrates that provision in the town is well in excess of this, at 1.5 hectares per 1000 population. However, this requirement excludes provision for the popular sports of tennis, athletics and bowls. 

7.8.  An assessment has also been made of estimated playing field provision  at the end of the plan period (2006) based on identified changes,  in particular new provision in association with major new residential development. New facilities will be required both to meet the needs of the growing population and to meet demand from increasing participation. The results in Appendix 17 indicate that the NPFA minimum recommendation would be provided  in 2006. This will only be achieved by - 

a)   the retention of all existing playing  fields - any erosion of these sites would be reflected in an immediate decline below this minimum standard; 

b)   the provision of new playing fields in association with areas of major new residential development. 

7.9.  Many recreational sites have potential for more intensive or alternative use. Sites where the use of facilities is currently restricted to a private club or a school might be suitable for future use by the wider community. This may in itself justify retention especially if a site is currently under-used. The need to take full account of the potential recreational value of playing fields is stressed in Department of the Environment guidance on Sport and Recreation contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 17. 

7.10.  The provision of public open space began in Northampton over 100 years ago and the town rapidly gained a reputation for an abundance of parks. Since 1970, substantial provision has been added as part of the planned expansion of the town. These areas are in full use for a wide range of formal and informal recreation and constitute the main leisure provision in the town with  full public access. 

7.11.   Private sports clubs, firms and other organisations make a key contribution towards formal sports provision. Skill development at higher levels of play is aided by training facilities and greater practice time for which private grounds offer a major opportunity. The Council will therefore seek to ensure their retention. 

7.12.   Purpose-built facilities for indoor sports are an increasingly important element in both public and private provision and their retention is therefore considered to be essential. Indoor sports facilities often have a secondary role in hosting cultural or community events. Sports grounds may have a pavilion or clubroom which also meets such needs. Existing and potential use for cultural and community activities should be acknowledged in applying policy L1. 

7.13.   Public and private recreational open space also makes a central contribution to visual amenity and character. Larger open spaces, such as the Racecourse, Abington Park, riverside areas, Kingsthorpe Golf Course and the former Northampton Golf Course, are a particularly important part of the landscape character of the whole town. Other open spaces which connect in a linear fashion have a collective amenity value. With an increasing amount of land being built upon in the future, retaining these actively-used open spaces will enable the town's pleasant open character to be maintained. Much of this open land separates housing areas or other uses which would otherwise be incompatible in close proximity. Other open space has a more localised amenity value, but is nevertheless often essential in maintaining a pleasant residential environment. Any proposals for the development of the open space to which policy L1 will be applied should be assessed in terms of the site's amenity value, independent from considerations relating to recreational use.

POLICY  L1 : EXISTING RECREATION FACILITIES

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT ON THE SITES LISTED IN APPENDIX 18 WHICH WOULD RESULT IN:

A) THE LOSS OF EXISTING PUBLIC OR PRIVATE, OUTDOOR OR INDOOR, RECREATIONAL FACILITIES FOR WHICH THERE IS AN ESTABLISHED OR POTENTIAL NEED, UNLESS SUITABLE REPLACEMENT FACILITIES OF AT LEAST AN EQUIVALENT STANDARD ARE PROVIDED WITHIN OR IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT TO THE TOWN 

OR 

B)   THE LOSS OF OPEN SPACE OF ESTABLISHED AMENITY/LANDSCAPE VALUE UNLESS THE DEVELOPMENT SECURES THE MAJORITY OF THE SITE AS A FACILITY FOR SPORT AND RECREATION.

POLICY L1 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY RC2

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014.

 

Community Use of Existing Schools and Colleges

7.14. The County Council is strongly committed to the public use of recreational facilities in school premises, both by joint provision with District Councils and by dual school and community use. The Northamptonshire Structure Plan reflects this in policy REC 3. The need to retain existing playing fields has been stressed in paragraphs 7.5-7.8. The assessment in Appendix 18 shows that sports grounds in middle schools, upper schools and colleges form a third of total provision. Their retention will therefore be essential in maintaining current sports facilities. 

 

7.15. The assessment of potential recreational value discussed in paragraph 7.9 and in Department of the Environment guidance, is especially applicable to educational land. Where it exceeds that which is required for educational use, retention for outside recreational use should be treated as a priority. Where development is permitted, a recreational or amenity open space element within the scheme may still be appropriate. Community use of lower schools is generally limited at present but they have considerable potential for greater use. For this reason, lower schools are included in the sites to which policy L2 will be applied. 

 

7.16. School and college premises include many facilities for indoor sports and cater for arts, entertainment, and community activities. This existing value and the substantial potential for greater leisure use of buildings should be fully acknowledged in applying policy L2. 

 

7.17. The majority of schools and colleges have grounds with considerable amenity and landscape value in a similar way to other recreational open space. This value alone may justify resisting development on individual sites. 

 

7.18. Since recreational facilities have been provided principally for use within an educational environment, they cannot be identified separately on the Proposals Map. Accordingly, policy L2 applies to the total site area of each school and college.

 

 

 

POLICY L2 : COMMUNITY USE OF EXISTING SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR THE CHANGE OF USE, OR DEVELOPMENT FOR NON-EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES, OF ALL OR PART OF THE SCHOOL AND COLLEGE SITES LISTED IN APPENDIX 19 UNLESS:

A)   IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE LAND OR FACILITIES LIKELY TO BE LOST ARE NOT NEEDED IN THE LONG TERM FOR ANY RECREATIONAL  PURPOSES AND HAVE INSIGNIFICANT AMENITY AND LANDSCAPE VALUE, OR 

B)   THE SCHEME RETAINS ALL OPEN SPACE OF SIGNIFICANT AMENITY/LANDSCAPE VALUE AND RETAINS OR PROVIDES ADEQUATE OUTDOOR OR INDOOR RECREATIONAL FACILITIES AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC USE, OR 

C)   THE EXISTING SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES CAN BEST BE RETAINED OR ENHANCED THROUGH THE REDEVELOPMENT OF PART OF THE SITE.

POLICY L2 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

Other Existing Local Open Space 

7.19. The sites safeguarded by policies L1 and L2 represent the key recreational land in the town. There are many other smaller open spaces, below 0.4 hectares in size, in public or private ownership. They contribute to informal recreation and amenity in varying degrees. Some may have the potential for greater use, provided that disturbance from it would not affect the amenity of adjoining residential areas. Where applications for development arise, full consideration should be given to both the existing and potential recreational and amenity value of these open areas.

POLICY L3 : OTHER EXISTING LOCAL OPEN SPACE

L3 PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF EXISTING LOCAL OPEN SPACE, LESS THAN 0.4 HECTARES IN SIZE, WHICH HAS: 

A)   ESTABLISHED OR POTENTIAL VALUE FOR LEISURE USE 

B)   ESTABLISHED AMENITY VALUE CONTRIBUTING TO THE CHARACTER OF THE LOCALITY.

POLICY L3 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY RC2

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014. 

NEW LOCAL RECREATIONAL LAND

New Local Sports Provision

7.21. The need to retain existing playing field provision and to provide new facilities in order to meet the minimum  NPFA requirement at the end of the plan period is discussed in paragraph 7.8. Provision in accordance with the NPFA minimum requirement (1.6-1.8 hectares per 1000  population) in the expansion areas since 1970 has successfully catered for popular sports. This requirement is  therefore considered to be the proper basis for future land allocation, within which there will  be considerable flexibility for meeting the needs of individual sports. 

7.22. Good local provision will encourage the young to take part in sport. Also, the additional benefits of this open land being available for informal play and its contribution  to the amenity of new development should not be underestimated. 

7.23.  The Council makes a central contribution to popular sports provision, particularly football where it provides the majority of pitches. It is recognised in the Regional Recreation Strategy that future provision will rely largely on public sites, with limited growth in private provision. The main opportunity to increase the land available for local sports facilities will be in conjunction with the larger areas of new residential development. 

7.24. The assessment of estimated playing field provision in 2006 (Appendix 17) illustrates that, if provision is made in large new housing areas, the NPFA minimum requirement will continue to be met. However, both existing and proposed sports provision is not evenly distributed throughout the town. Also, teams are less likely to be made up of players from a 'local' area than has been the case in the past. Most players will travel within the town to fixtures, including 'home' matches. The adequacy of facilities has therefore been assessed largely on a town-wide basis, accepting a considerable level of cross-town movement to play with variations in provision at a local level. The provision of changing and car parking facilities as part of the initial playing field development, will therefore be an essential element in the success and adequacy of new sports venues. Junior sport in particular would benefit from these associated facilities. 

7.25.  New public sports provision, in association with major new residential development, will be required on the following basis:-

 a)    a minimum playing area of 1.6 hectares per 1000 new population.

 b)    changing facilities and/or provision for car/coach parking may be required in association with the sports playing area.

 c)    a larger site area to accommodate any car parking and peripheral landscaped areas. These are excluded from the net playing area.

 d)    artificial playing surfaces capable of more intensive use could reduce the land requirement in accordance with NPFA advice. This might be agreed as an alternative to a traditional playing field, but the capital implications may be greater.

It is considered that viable facilities including changing  accommodation and cost effective maintenance will normally only be achieved with a minimum playing area of approximately 4 hectares. The provision listed above is limited therefore to developments creating more than an additional 1000 dwellings or 2500 new population.

POLICY L4 : NEW LOCAL RECREATON LAND

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR ANY  MAJOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF OVER 1000 DWELLINGS UNLESS PROVISION IS MADE FOR PUBLIC SPORTS FACILITIES IN ACCORDANCE WITH A STANDARD OF 1.6 HECTARES OF LAND PER 1000 POPULATION TO INCLUDE: 

A)   THE LAYING OUT OF PLAYING FIELDS OR AN AGREED ALTERNATIVE ARTIFICIALLY SURFACED PLAYING AREA, OR 

B)   THE CONSTRUCTION OF ASSOCIATED CHANGING FACILITIES AND/OR A CAR/COACH PARKING AREA AND SECURE CYCLE PARKING, AND 

C)   RELIABLE PROVISIONS FOR THE LONG TERM MAINTENANCE OF THE PLAYING FIELD AND ANY ASSOCIATED BUILT FACILITIES.

POLICY L4 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY RC2

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014. 

7.26. Demand for informal activities, including children's  play, cannot be quantified. To a much larger extent than with formal sports areas, the very existence of an open space attracts "play" activities.  Within  the built-up areas of the town, there will be little opportunity  for new open areas. The recreational potential of school sites represents the main opportunity for improvement here.  Most opportunities for new informal open space will inevitably  be found within housing developments. However, other forms of development may also provide an opportunity to provide recreational open space. 

7.27. The development of the eastern and southern expansion areas has illustrated the success of grouping housing areas around open space. This will continue to be encouraged in future major developments. Within new housing in the eastern expansion area, children's play areas were often provided very close to the  home  and  frequently caused disturbance to  immediate residents.  Therefore the  Council  has subsequently encouraged the siting of play areas away from the immediate vicinity of housing areas, within the central open spaces and will continue to promote such locations. (See Chapter 3 - paragraph 3.29 and policy H14).

 

7.28.  Footpaths within open space should provide proper connections between housing estates and ensure that adequate access  is gained to the open space itself. Walking  is an important pastime and paths should be designed to combine pleasant surroundings with direct routes. The linear arrangement  of open space is a particularly good way to achieve this.

The Maintenance of Open Space 

7.29. The proliferation of open space with rapid and substantial housing development  during the period of town expansion since  1970,  has placed an ever-increasing  burden  for  its  maintenance on  the  Council. Accordingly, it is established  Council  policy that new areas of open space will only normally  be accepted on the basis of the developer paying a commuted sum to ensure adequate maintenance for 40 years following development. Such an agreement will not apply to those areas of open space to be privately conveyed and maintained. The agreement is normally  made under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It is accepted that such agreements will only apply to small areas of public open space, in accordance  with DOE Circular 1/97 - Planning Obligations.

 

POLICY L6 : MAINTENANCE OF OPEN SPACE

THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE DEVELOPER UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990 FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF SMALL AREAS OF PUBLIC OPEN SPACE ASSOCIATED WITH NEW DEVELOPMENT, AS DEFINED IN DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT CIRCULAR 1/97. THE PAYMENT FROM THE DEVELOPER SHOULD BE A COMMUTED SUM SUFFICIENT TO ENSURE ADEQUATE MAINTENANCE FOR 40 YEARS FOLLOWING COMPLETION OF THE DEVELOPMENT.

POLICY L6 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY RC2

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014.

 

Northampton and Kingsthorpe Golf Courses 

7.43.  Increasing property values and the pressure for development in the late 1980's resulted in planning applications for the residential development of both of these golf courses. Applications for planning permission on both sites were refused and both were dismissed on appeal by the Secretary of State. 

7.44.  In addition to their existing and potential recreational value, the two sites are very important areas of amenity which separate and enhance surrounding residential areas. Also they are a significant and valuable part of the town's landscape structure and character. 

7.45.  The importance of resisting the erosion of green spaces in urban areas has been stressed in Department of the Environment Guidance on Sport and Recreation (PPG 17). Both of these sites are considered to be of sufficient landscape, amenity and recreational value to warrant their retention. The Council has previously passed resolutions to acquire both sites for public open space. 

7.46.   The Links/Spinney Hill area was identified in earlier drafts of the Local Plan as requiring additional public open space and this deficiency was recognised as an important reason for protecting both sites. Northampton Golf Club relocated to another site in 1991 and this gave potential for public access to this large open space. Planning permission for a scheme involving development of a small part of the site for retail purposes with the remainder of the site available for recreational use was granted in 1994. A new public open space - Bradlaugh Fields - has been created, meeting the deficiency which once existed. This area is now in the ownership  of the Council. 

7.47.   It is intended that Bradlaugh Fields be protected and managed as a valuable  resource for the local community. Recreational use of Bradlaugh  Fields will need to be carefully balanced with the protection of its acknowledged nature conservation value. There are two declared Local Nature Reserves within the site where active recreational use would be inappropriate. Proposals will also need to retain the character and amenity of the site and surroundings.

POLICY L10 : BRADLAUGH FIELDS

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR THE USE OF BRADLAUGH FIELDS FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN FOR RECREATIONAL OPEN SPACE OR NATURE CONSERVATION. PROPOSALS ASSOCIATED WITH THESE USES SHOULD NOT BE DETRIMENTAL TO:- 

A)   THE PROTECTION OF THE ACKNOWLEDGED NATURE CONSERVATION  VALUE OF THE SITE INCLUDING THE DECLARED HILLS AND HOLLOWS AND KINGSTHORPE SCRUB FIELD LOCAL NATURE RESERVES AND THE PROPER MANAGEMENT OF THIS WILDLIFE AND HABITAT

B)   THE RETENTION OF THE SITE AS OPEN SPACE AND THE PROTECTION OF THE AMENITY AND CHARACTER OF THE SITE AND ITS SURROUNDING LOCALITY 

C)   THE USE AND ENJOYMENT OF THE SITE BY THE PUBLIC.

POLICY L10 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

Motor Sports and Motorised Water Sports 

7.50. There is a growing demand to both participate in and watch organised sport "off the road" involving cars and motorcycles, particularly for young people. There is an associated problem being experienced in Northampton of the uncontrolled use mainly of motorcycles by young people, which are ridden without authorisation on vacant land or public open space. This causes noise, disturbance and conflict with other uses and to neighbouring residential areas. Such activities often take place in environmentally sensitive locations, causing damage to wildlife and landscape. Not least of the problems is the potential danger to both the riders and the public.

7.51. Both Department of the Environment and Sports Council guidance stresses the need to identify permanent supervised sites for motor sports, in areas where disturbance to residents, adjacent uses and the environment would be minimised. Provision in urban areas, where youth activity is concentrated, is a priority. 

7.52. Motorised sport and leisure on water i.e. water skiing, jet skis and power boats may create similar levels of noise and disturbance, which particularly conflicts with the retention of the landscape and wildlife value of the valley areas and it can spoil the enjoyment of such areas for other leisure users. As speed restrictions apply to both the river and canal, such disturbance invariably occurs only on large water areas. Locations for noisy water activities, leaving other more sensitive areas free from disturbance, are identified in policy L18.

7.53. Opportunities for suitable locations for these noisy activities will be limited given the urbanised character of much of Northampton. Proper supervision, limited hours of operation and noise attenuation, where necessary, will be an essential part of successful provision.

POLICY L12 : MOTOR SPORTS AND MOTORISED WATER SPORTS

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GRANTED FOR "OFF THE ROAD" MOTOR SPORTS AND MOTORISED WATER SPORTS WHERE THE PROPOSAL WILL NOT RESULT IN: 

A)   UNACCEPTABLY HIGH LEVELS OF NOISE AND DISTURBANCE, PARTICULARLY IF RESIDENTIAL AREAS OR OTHER LEISURE USES IN THE VICINITY ARE LIKELY TO BE SERIOUSLY OR CONTINUALLY AFFECTED 

B) AREAS OF LANDSCAPE OR ECOLOGICAL VALUE BEING DAMAGED OR DEGRADED

C) AN UNSIGHTLY INTRUSION INTO THE AREA

D) TRAFFIC CONGESTION OR HIGHWAY SAFETY PROBLEMS

E) PARKING ON UNAUTHORISED AREAS.

POLICY L12 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

Community  Facilities 

7.61. Local community facilities have an essential role in the life of the town and need to be safeguarded in a similar way to arts, entertainment and cultural venues. Community centres are an important asset and a focus for many forms of local activity and need to be the subject of particular protection. Schools and churches, particularly those with community facilities and halls, play a valuable part in community  life - especially for women and young children, for youth groups and for the elderly.

POLICY L13 : LOCAL COMMUNITY FACILITIES

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF THE EXISTING COMMUNITY FACILITIES LISTED IN APPENDIX 23.

POLICY L13 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

 

COUNTRYSIDE AND WATER RECREATION

Safeguarding the Nene Valley and Tributaries

7.75. The valleys of the River Nene and its tributaries (Brampton  Arm and Wootton Brook) contain extensive areas of undeveloped land. The Grand Union Canal (Northampton Arm), which is linked to the river at locks close to South Bridge, runs side by side with the river to Duston Mill before turning south and crossing the Wootton Brook. These open corridors need to be retained as they provide a valuable and under-used amenity that is important in terms of recreation, nature conservation and tourism. 

7.76. Historically, the land is flood plain and this has prevented development and limited agriculture to traditional meadow pasture. Development of the river frontage has only taken place in the town centre, with the retention of riverside common land retaining an open aspect to the immediate east. The Brampton Valley has been spoiled by unsightly development but it nevertheless provides an important open wedge running north from Spencer Bridge into open countryside. The Nene Valley will provide the major open spaces in the proposed development of the Pineham, Upton and Berrywood areas and it should continue to be protected as an amenity throughout its length. 

7.77.  The East Midlands Sports Council stresses that opportunities for countryside and water recreation should be as close as possible to urban populations, which is of particular benefit to less mobile groups. The linear nature of the valley areas gives an opportunity to retain continuous open space of semi-rural character throughout the town, easily accessible to a large proportion of the population. The extraction of gravel deposits in the Nene Valley has resulted in a legacy of large water areas. With Northampton's inland location, their value in recreation and amenity terms is increased. 

7.78. The  character of the river valley and its tributaries can only be retained by rigorously excluding inappropriate development. The character can also be maintained and enhanced by the retention of appropriate agricultural use and the promotion of nature conservation and appropriate leisure uses. A careful balance needs to be kept between new leisure uses and existing natural features. The character of the area needs to be retained not merely on amenity grounds but also in order to conserve a pleasant setting for informal recreation. Similarly, areas of nature conservation value need to be protected both in their own right and as features which with careful management and selective access can contribute to the recreational attraction of the valleys.

POLICY L16 : RIVER VALLEY POLICY AREA

WITHIN THE RIVER VALLEY POLICY AREA (AS DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP) PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT OTHER THAN AGRICULTURE, LEISURE OR RECREATIONAL USES. ALL SUCH DEVELOPMENT WILL BE REQUIRED TO: 

A) AVOID SIGNIFICANT HARM TO THE AMENITY VALUE OF THE OPEN SPACE IN THE VALLEY 

B) PAY DUE REGARD TO THE CHARACTER, NATURAL FEATURES AND WILDLIFE OF THE AREA 

C) MAKE ADEQUATE PROVISION FOR PUBLIC ACCESS WHERE THE DEVELOPMENT IS SUCH AS TO ATTRACT VISITS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC.

POLICY L16 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY BN8

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014.

 

Use of River and Canal 

7.79. A recent Regional Sports Council assessment identified the River Nene as being of "key regional significance" for boat cruising and coarse angling. The Washland channel was specifically identified as a key site for rowing . 

7.80. The river is navigable to the east of the town centre and is used by pleasure boats in conjunction with the Northampton arm of the Grand Union Canal to the west. The Canal provides an important link between the Grand Union Canal system and the navigable rivers and channels of East Anglia and the Fens. Future development has been examined through a Canal Corridor Study prepared by British Waterways in consultation with the Council and  there is a particular need for improvements to the canalside environment and facilities at Cotton End, where the Canal meets the River. There are limited facilities for mooring boats at Foot Meadow, Beckets Park and Midsummer Meadow. Rowing boats can be hired at Becket's Park whilst downstream parts of the river are used for canoeing and rowing but better facilities are needed to foster these sports. A canoe slalom course is being considered adjoining the Bedford Road sluice and new facilities for the rowing club have been permitted on a nearby site. At Weston Mill and Billing the river is used for sailing and by pleasure boats.

POLICY L17 : USE OF RIVER AND CANAL

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATED WITH THE LEISURE USE OF THE RIVER NENE AND THE NORTHAMPTON ARM OF THE GRAND UNION CANAL SUBJECT TO IT BEING APPROPRIATE IN SCALE AND CHARACTER, NOT DETRIMENTAL TO WILDLIFE AND ACCEPTABLE IN ENVIRONMENTAL TERMS.

POLICY L17 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY BN8

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014.

 

Managed Countryside Recreation 

7.90. The Regional Recreation Strategy emphasises the importance of country parks and other similarly managed sites in encouraging countryside recreation. The Northamptonshire Structure Plan also stresses the importance of facilities for wildlife interpretation and countryside recreation and specifically promotes the provision of a country park in Northampton.

7.91. A suitable location for a future country park would be at Upton. The site is contained within the River Valley Policy Area (policy L16) where development is restricted to leisure, recreational or agricultural related uses. The area contained flood meadows and water areas left from former gravel extraction which offer opportunity for wildlife conservation and informal recreation. The area represents a valuable resource - a corridor of open space between proposed development areas where natural elements of landscape and river valley may be vulnerable to the consequences of adjacent land use change unless properly managed. The river valley in this area should be conserved at all costs. Therefore in granting planning permission for adjoining areas the Council will seek to secure the long term future of the river valley as managed open space.

POLICY L20 : MANAGED COUNTRYSIDE RECREATION: UPTON COUNTRY PARK

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR A COUNTRY PARK AT UPTON WITHIN THE OVERALL DEVELOPMENT OF THE PINEHAM AND UPTON AREA. THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK SUCH PROVISION BY AGREEMENT WITH THE DEVELOPERS OF THE PINEHAM, UPTON AND BERRYWOOD AREAS AND RELEVANT LANDOWNERS.

POLICY L20 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY N9

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014.

 

ALLOTMENT  GARDENS

7.100. There is a strong tradition of allotment gardening in the town. In the 1980's, much allotment land was vacant with many plot-holders being discouraged by disturbance and vandalism to plots. In response to this, a management strategy for allotments on Council-owned land was approved in 1990, which suggested that some disused areas might be suitable for appropriate alternative use.

7.101. The control which the Council can exercise over the future of allotments varies according to the type and ownership of sites: 

a) Statutory: These permanent allotments on Council-owned land are subject to Allotment legislation, which includes the requirement to make alternative provision in the event of cultivated areas being developed for another purpose; 

b) Temporary: In Council ownership, these sites will eventually be required for other uses;

 c) Non-Statutory: Together with temporary sites, these are not subject to allotment legislation with regard to disposal of sites. With increasing pressures for their development, they can only be safeguarded where appropriate by the Council's planning policy and development control.

 7.102. Provision of new allotments is very unlikely, which emphasises the need for careful control of existing sites. Many are well-used, secure and popular and others are readily capable of improvement. All such sites should be retained whilst others which are severely under-used with limited potential for improvement will provide opportunities for alternative use. 

7.103. An assessment has been made of the change in allotment land over the period 1981-1991. The results in Appendix 24 illustrate that some sites were lost and that provision relative to population fell. However, decline in demand and many vacant plots mean that this should give little cause for concern. Indeed, further reduction may be achieved without seriously affecting the situation.

 7.104. An assessment of the value of individual sites should be complemented by a broader view of the town- wide provision. As an indicator of demand, two thirds of plots on sites directly managed by the Council were being used in 1990. Applied town-wide, this level of use is close to the following established standards

 a) Statutory sites:- 0.2 hectares/1000 population. This is the minimum standard suggested (Departmental Committee of Inquiry into Allotments - Report. Ministry of Housing and Local Government 1969).

 b) All sites (including statutory):- 0.4 hectares/1000 population. This was the standard recommended for the later stages of New Town expansion.

 The above standards reflect current demand and they provide a suitable minimum requirement for provision within the Plan period.

 7.105. In considering proposals for alternative use, the value of the site to the local population might in itself justify its retention and override other considerations such as under-use. The distribution and local availability of allotments is shown in Appendix 24 and this will be used as a guide to the local value of sites.

 7.106. The value of allotment sites is not confined to their leisure use. Sites contribute to the open character of an area, often forming part of a larger open space of collective value. This should be fully recognised in considering their development.  

7.107. The Council's temporary sites are likely to remain available for allotment use throughout the Plan period (on land adjacent to Dallington, Kingsthorpe and Towcester Road cemeteries; and at Glebeland Road). However, they are excluded from the following policy, since their eventual use (mainly for cemetery extensions) is largely established. 

7.108. Several private sites are completely disused and no longer qualify for inclusion in existing allotment provision - Freehold Street and Martin's Yard, (north of Spencer Bridge Road).

POLICY L24 : ALLOTMENT GARDENS

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EXISTING ALLOTMENT SITES LISTED IN APPENDIX 25 WHICH WOULD RESULT IN:

A) THE LOSS OF ALLOTMENTS FOR WHICH THERE IS AN ESTABLISHED OR POTENTIAL NEED OR WHICH  PROVIDE A  CONVENIENT LOCAL  FACILITY, UNLESS ADEQUATE REPLACEMENT FACILITIES ARE PROVIDED

B) THE LOSS OF AN ESTABLISHED AMENITY WHICH CONTRIBUTES TO THE CHARACTER OF THE LOCALITY

POLICY L24 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

 

7.109. There are a number of other allotment sites which are considered to be appropriate for alternative use and which are therefore not included in policy L24 above. The development of these sites would not be detrimental to either allotment supply or the amenity of their locality. They comprise the following: 

Hardingstone (south), north of Newport Pagnell Road (private): Much of this site has planning permission for residential development and the remaining area is appropriate for further housing. 

Rothersthorpe Road (private) : Land to the south of the site has planning permission for housing development. Much of the allotment land is under-used and has similar potential for residential use. Delapre Middle School to the east of the site has no school playing field. On the basis of this need for sports facilities and in order to retain an open space element within any residential development, an area of 1.2 hectares has been identified  as proposed recreational land in policy L25. It is intended that the playing field would  be available for use by both the school and residents. 

Water Lane, Wootton (Private) : This site is immediately adjacent to a proposed major residential area - Wootton Fields. As such, it would form an acceptable extension to this residential area. Part of the allotment land is currently being developed for housing. 

Pleydell Road, (owned and managed by the Council): With over 60% of plots vacant in 1990, there is scope for developing some of the plots. Part of the site has already been developed for housing. By ensuring that some allotments remain on the periphery of the site, their amenity value to surrounding residents would be retained. 

Rothersthorpe Road, (owned and managed by the Council) : With a high level of vacancy (70% in 1990), part of the site is also suitable for housing development.

POLICY L25 : ALTERNATIVE USE OF ALLOTMENT LAND

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR AN APPROPRIATE ALTERNATIVE USE OF ALLOTMENT LAND LISTED BELOW: 

HARDINGSTONE, NEWPORT PAGNELL ROAD (PRIVATE) REMAINDER, GR:763573

ROTHERSTHORPE ROAD (PRIVATE), GR:744588

WATER LANE, WOOTTON (PRIVATE), GR:765571

PLEYDELL ROAD - PARTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF SITE (COUNCIL), GR:751586

ROTHERSTHORPE ROAD - PARTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF SITE (COUNCIL), GR:740587.

Policy L25 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

 

LEISURE PROPOSALS

7.111. Preceding policies in this chapter are directed towards the safeguarding of existing recreational land. Other policies establish priorities for future leisure provision and open space requirements for new residential areas. Where future leisure proposals can be specifically identified, the land required for such uses also needs to be safeguarded against alternative development. This is considered  to  be essential if future leisure needs are to be met within the context of the town's finite land supply. It is especially important where major projects rely on a unique site for their realisation, a prime example being Upton Country Park.

 

7.112. The proposed recreational sites listed in Appendix 27 are at various stages of commitment. They include areas which were under preparation but not ready for use in mid-1993. Other long-term sites are dependent on associated development which would be implemented in the later stages of the Plan period. 

 

7.113. The sites listed in Appendix 27 have been selected as proposed recreation/leisure sites and are proposed to be safeguarded from alternative development on the basis their suitability in providing additional recreational facilities within the Plan period. The protection of open space of established amenity/landscape value and/or sites of acknowledged wildlife and habitat value have also been important criteria in identifying the sites to be subject to the policy.

POLICY L26 : LEISURE PROPOSALS : SITE SPECIFIC

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR THE RECREATIONAL/LEISURE USE OF THE SITES LISTED IN APPENDIX 27 AND DEVELOPMENT FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.

POLICY L26 : INTERACTIVE MAPPING JCS

 

 

7.125. The Council will encourage the development of a National Fairground Museum in Northampton.

7.126.  Northampton has moved on from its dependence on the shoe industry as the base of its employment  but it is still synonymous with the name of Northampton. The proposal to establish a National Shoe Museum will provide a major new attraction for the area. It would not only house the existing fine collection of footwear, but would also include a large number of unique items involved in their manufacture which are available as a result of the town's long association with the industry.

7.127.  The Council will support the establishment of the National Shoe Museum in Northampton.

7.128.  The Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust and museum at Hunsbury Hill Park illustrates the former ironstone industry in Northampton. It provides interpretative information which includes working engines. Its continuation is seen as an aspect of the town's history that should be readily available to visitors. The Northampton and Lamport Steam Railway Preservation Society also provides an increasing attraction. Part of the former Northampton to Market Harborough railway line is used, together with a site near Chapel Brampton, to the north of the town. Re-opening a rail connection from here to Northampton would encourage the development of the site as a visitor attraction. A proposal for re-use of the line would need to safeguard existing or proposed footpath and cycle routes. It may also need to make alternative provision for a footpath into surrounding countryside, in the vicinity of the railway line.

7.129. The Council will encourage the continued use of land at Hunsbury Hill Park by the Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust. 

7.130. The Council will encourage the development of a rail link from the Northampton and Lamport Steam Railway Preservation Society site to Northampton, subject to it not conflicting with the existing or proposed footpath or cycle route use of the redundant railway line or with the proposed North West Bypass junction with the Welford Road (A50). 

7.131.  The River Nene and the Grand Union Canal form an invaluable resource which has great potential for improvement and to attract visitors.  For several years the Council has undertaken a programme of improvements which has enhanced the riverside. New footpaths have opened up areas alongside the river and canal and the Council will continue with these works. It also works in conjunction with other developers to secure waterside facilities. Recent major developments in the Nene Valley, adjacent to Bedford Road, have provided the opportunity to improve the waterside amenities at Rushmills.

7.132. The Council will continue to promote and implement a programme of waterside improvements and the provision of new facilities where appropriate which are of benefit to tourism.

POLICY L29 : RIVER VALLEY POLICY AREA : PROVISION OF NEW FACILITIES

L29 IN GRANTING PLANNING PERMISSION FOR ANY MAJOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE RIVER VALLEY POLICY AREA THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK THE PROVISION OF NEW FACILITIES WHERE APPROPRIATE WHICH ARE OF BENEFIT TO TOURISM BY AGREEMENT UNDER THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990.

POLICY L29 REPLACED BY JOINT CORE STRATEGY POLICY E7

WEST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE JOINT CORE STRATEGY LOCAL PLAN (PART 1) ADOPTED - DECEMBER 2014.