sidcup golf course report by 3l7Z72aU


									                                                         planning report PDU/0197a/02
                                                                            17 February 2005

                                                      Sidcup Leisure Centre
                                                        in the London Borough of Bexley
                                          planning application no. 04/01205/FULEA

Strategic planning application stage II referral
Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended); Greater London Authority Act 1999;
Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2000

The proposal
Sidcup Golf Course site: Demolition of the existing golf clubhouse and erection of a new
leisure centre with provision of 156 car parking spaces, coach parking, landscaping and
alterations to existing access road. An Environmental Impact Assessment accompanies the
Hurstmere School site: Erection of a single storey golf clubhouse, stewards’ accommodation,
groundsman’s store and workshop together with associated landscaping and provision of 75
car parking spaces.

Strategic issues
Development in Metropolitan Open Land – Given the location of the proposals within
Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) this proposal is contrary to both local and national policies.
However, the applicant has adequately demonstrated the exceptional circumstances of the
situation, in this instance being the lack of an alternative site and the need for the facility.
Loss of playing fields – The proposal will involve the loss of 0.39ha of playing field from the
Chislehurst and Sidcup School and a small area from Hurstmere School. From a functional
point of view, these facilities will be adequately replaced or re-provided by the availability of
another field to share at an adjoining school, the use of the proposed sports hall at the leisure
centre and the provision of an all weather pitch to be shared between the two affected schools.
Inclusive design – An accessible toilet has been added at first floor level, the means of escape has
been improved and the drop-off point has been altered. These measures overcome most of the
Mayor’s concern relating to the inclusive design principles incorporated in the scheme.
Sustainable design – The applicant has demonstrated that the principles of the London Plan and
Mayor’s Energy Strategy have been incorporated into the design of the scheme. Energy
efficient design measures will reduce the carbon emissions of the building by approximately
23%, while the use of photovoltaics will further reduce carbon emission by another 1%.

That Bexley Council be advised that the Mayor is content for it to determine the case itself,
subject to any action that the Secretary of State may take, and does not wish to direct refusal.

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1       On 29 April 2004 Bexley Council consulted the Mayor of London on an application for
planning permission for the above uses at the above site. This was referred to the Mayor under
Category 3D of the Schedule of the above Order, i.e. “Development on land allocated as
Metropolitan Open Land in the development plan…and which would involve the construction of a
building with a floorspace of more than 1000 sq.m.”

2        On 27 October 2004 the Mayor considered planning report PDU/0197 and 0197b/01,
and subsequently advised Bexley Council that the proposal was acceptable in principle with
regard to strategic planning policy in that, although the application is contrary to policies
relating to the protection of MOL. the applicant had adequately justified the need for the
facility, and had demonstrated that there is no other site available, and accordingly this
constituted very special circumstances that justifies the development. Concerns were raised,
however, over certain elements of the design including its accessibility, sustainability and the
fact it involved the loss of playing fields.

3      A copy of the above-mentioned report is attached. The essentials of the case with
regard to the proposal, the site, case history, strategic planning issues and relevant policies and
guidance are as set out therein, unless otherwise stated in this report. Since then, the
application has been slightly revised in response to the Mayor’s concerns (see below). On 18
November 2004 Bexley Council decided that it was minded to grant planning permission for
the revised application, and on 17 December 2004 it advised the Mayor of this decision.
Further information was required and the referral was not formally acknowledged until 7
February 2005. Under the provisions of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London)
Order 2000 the Mayor may direct Bexley Council to refuse planning permission, and has until
21 February 2005 to notify the Council of such a direction. This report sets out the
information needed by the Mayor in deciding whether to direct refusal.

4       The environmental information for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning
(Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 has been taken
into account in the consideration of this case.

5    The Mayor of London’s decision this case, and his reasons, will be made available on the
GLA website

6       In the Mayor’s consultation response, the application was considered to be contrary
to local and national policies regarding the loss of MOL. This was the most significant issue
with the application, and obviously this situation has not altered since originally considered.

Loss of playing fields
7      The applicant has provided further information about the layout of the playing fields.
Both the golf course and the school redevelopment will involve the loss of areas used for
playing fields. The applicant has however, provided information on the arrangements
between the two affected schools and the leisure centre.

8     Firstly, since Chislehurst and Sidcup School will be losing one rugby pitch (0.48 ha or
96m by 50m), this will be replaced by a grass training pitch (75m by 25m) and the adjoining
rugby pitch will be enlarged from the existing size (91m by 55m) to 100m by 60m, which is

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closer in size to a regulation rugby pitch. Taking into account the replacement pitch and the
reconfiguration of the other, there will be an overall loss of 0.39ha of playing field.

9       The school will also be able to use a playing field of 1.2ha at the nearby Rose Bruford
College, which is accessible through Lamorbey Park, where a junior rugby pitch and a
cricket square are to be provided. As a consequence of this re-provision, the proposed
development on the existing playing field is unlikely to have a detrimental impact on the
school’s ability to accommodate team sports.

10     Hurstmere and Chislehurst & Sidcup Schools were designated a Joint Sports College
in September 2003, although the latter does not have its own sports hall. The proposal for
the Sidcup Leisure Centre, that includes a four court sports hall, will be exclusively used by
the school during the school day. This will assist the Joint Sports College to achieve its
targets for sports development. The sports hall will also be available for community use
outside school hours.

11      Hurstmere School will lose a smaller area that, in the past (although not recently),
has been used for long jump and high jump. It is proposed to replace these facilities
elsewhere in the school grounds. Additionally, separate planning permission has been
granted for the installation of a new floodlit all weather pitch upon the site. This pitch is
offered as compensation and will also be available for use by Chislehurst and Sidcup School.
Legal agreements between the Governors of both schools will be drawn up to ensure both
parties continue to share access to adequate outdoor sports facilities.

Access/equal opportunities
12       During the initial consultation response, the Mayor raised several concerns with the
layout and the lack of inclusive design principles in the scheme. Of particular concern was
the lack of accessible toilets at first floor level, the lack of wheelchair access to the steam
room and the lack of ramped and/or stepped access into the pool. Additionally, there were
no accessible family changing rooms in the pool area; the means of escape was inadequate;
the lifts only just met the minimum requirements of Part M of the Building Regulations; and
a drop-off point closer to the entrance was requested.

13     The applicant has responded to these points in several ways. These concerns have
been largely overcome as an accessible toilet and a refuge for the means of escape have been
added to the scheme and the drop-off point has been altered.

Urban design
14      During the consultation period, the Mayor expressed disappointment at the siting
and layout that was designed to accommodate vehicular traffic, and not pedestrians. This
point has been argued by the applicant who states that the layout is orientated to allow a
new pedestrian link through the site, between Hurst Road and The Glade/Lamorbey Park,
linking the existing footpath links through the site. This is not particularly apparent from
the plans provided, but would obviously be a benefit of the scheme. Pedestrians are also
separated from vehicular traffic to ensure pedestrian safety. The applicant also highlights
that the Green Travel Plan (a requirement of the section 106) will also promote pedestrian
priority through the site.

Sustainable design

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15      Since the Mayor originally considered this proposal in October 2004, there has been a
significant amount of discussion and negotiation between GLA officers and the applicant on
the sustainable design characteristics of the building. The original application did not
include an energy assessment in line with London Plan policy 4A.8 and application of
renewable technologies had not been considered.

16      The applicant has met with GLA officers and submitted written information to
demonstrate, in response to the Mayor’s request, how the scheme addresses the London Plan
energy policies. It has stated the likely energy demand for the scheme (4680 MWh per year).
It has demonstrated the energy efficiency measures that have contributed to this level of
demand that would otherwise be 6214 MWh per year. This is equivalent to a reduction in
annual carbon emissions of approximately 23% based on energy efficiency measures alone.

17      The applicant has investigated retrospectively the possible installation of a
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit, along with renewable energy technologies. It has set
out the costs and savings for CHP and the technical issues. Whilst it is not feasible to install
CHP, it is feasible to install Photovoltaics. However, this will only contribute a further 1%
reduction to carbon emissions.

18     In terms of the London Plan policies, the applicant has demonstrated to a reasonable
extent the work it has undertaken to investigate energy efficient and renewable energy
technologies and the scheme delivers significant carbon savings from energy efficiency
measures. The inclusion of photovoltaics, in principle, is welcome and whilst the
contribution is small against the Mayor’s energy strategy target, the applicant has
demonstrated the feasibility constraints to be consistent with London Plan policy in this

19     Further detail on the Energy Assessment is provided in the attached Appendix 1.

Other matters
20      A condition has been included on the draft planning permission that requires a
scheme to be submitted for approval that will ensure local employment sources to be used, in
line with the request from the London Development Agency.

Transport for London’s comments
21     Twenty-four covered cycle parking spaces have been included in the scheme. During
the consultation period Transport for London (TfL) requested 25 spaces. This solution is
considered acceptable.

22     A green travel plan is required by way of condition on the proposed decision. The
applicant and Bexley Council are aware that the green travel plan as submitted contains
limited information. In the final formulation of this condition the borough council should
ensure that a modal split assessment, monitoring and targets and incentives for reducing car
use are included in the travel plan.

23      Bexley Council has not yet determined whether it is minded to approve the
application on the Hurstmere School site. If it determines to do so, it should require details
of the shared school pedestrian and golf club vehicular access to be provided. This should
include details of the management of the access, use of speed tables, lighting and surfacing to
ensure pedestrian safety.

                                                                                          page 4
Response to consultation
24      Bexley Council has had a considerable amount of opposition to the scheme. There were
16 objections from local residents whose concerns related to: traffic congestion on Hurst Road
and the worsening of fatal accidents that have already occurred; there not being enough
demand for such a large leisure centre within a small catchment area; the development should
not be allowed within MOL and it will involve the loss of trees and habitat; it will spoil the
quiet, openness and views of Lamorbey Park; and will involve the loss a playing pitch at
Chislehurst and Sidcup School.

25     Sport England has written in support of the application. It considers that the strategic
importance of providing this leisure centre in this location well suited to its wider catchment,
where it can meet priority needs for its range of facilities and significantly contribute to sports
development. It considers this constitutes very special circumstances that outweigh the limited
impact of the development on the MOL.

26      Bexley’s LA21 Traffic/Transport Group and Bexley’s LA21 Natural Environment
Focus Group both oppose the application. They believe the application to be contrary to policy
to protect green belt and metropolitan open land. The Traffic group also believes that if this
application is granted, the number of car parking spaces should be reduced and other modes of
transport should be incorporated. The Natural Environment Focus Group also considers that
the proposal will not be in the interest of either the health and well being of the majority of
citizens or biodiversity of Lamorbey Park.

27     The Garden History Society opposes the continuing ad-hoc development in the park
over the years. This ad-hoc development includes the school buildings and ill-considered
planting, inappropriate fencing and tarmac paths. The organisation does not necessarily
consider the proposed leisure centre use as inappropriate but wants to see the development
included in a wider management plan for the entire park that covers landscape issues and the
future of the park. This development will continue the segregation of the park with fences and
will have devastating impact on the visual landscape. It will also reduce the amount of land
open for genuine public access.

28       The Mayor has received a direct letter of support for the centre from Derek Conway
Member of Parliament for Old Bexley and Sidcup. Mr. Conway states “The greater public
interest will undoubtedly be served by this development…The general public will have superb facilities
but local schools will also benefit hugely from the proximity and standard of sporting provision”.

29      Similarly, Robert Neill, Assembly Member for Bexley & Bromley has written to the
Mayor in support of the application. He has written to indicate the “strong cross-party
support” for the scheme, and to emphasise the significant amount of time and effort that has
been put in by the Council in identifying a site. He believes that the golf club site is the most
suited location for the development and that the impact on MOL will be minimal.

30      The Mayor has also had a strong letter of support for the proposal from Bexley
Councillors Chris Ball and Ian Clement. It is stated in the letter that “the Council sees the
development as being of great benefit to the area as well as helping to meet wider objectives of improving
health and well-being. At the same time, potential effects on open area can be minimised and
amelioration measures taken”.

Legal considerations

                                                                                                  page 5
31      Under the arrangements set out in article 5 of the Town and Country Planning (Mayor
of London) Order 2000 the Mayor has the power to direct the local planning authority to
refuse permission for a planning application referred to him under article 3 of the Order. In
doing so the Mayor must have regard to the matters set out in article 5(2) of the Order,
including the principle purposes of the Greater London Authority, the effect on health and
sustainable development, national policies and international obligations, regional planning
guidance, and the use of the River Thames. The Mayor may direct refusal if he considers that
to grant permission would be contrary to good strategic planning in Greater London. If he
decides to direct refusal, the Mayor must set out his reasons, and the local planning authority
must issue these with the refusal notice.

Financial considerations
32     Should the Mayor direct refusal; he would be the principal party at any subsequent
appeal hearing or public inquiry. Government guidance in Circular 8/93 (‘Award of Costs in
Planning and Other (including Compulsory Purchase Order) Proceedings’) emphasises that parties
usually pay their own expenses arising from an appeal.

33      Following an inquiry caused by a direction to refuse, costs may be awarded against the
Mayor if he has either directed refusal unreasonably; handled a referral from a planning
authority unreasonably; or behaved unreasonably during the appeal. A major factor in deciding
whether the Mayor has acted unreasonably will be the extent to which he has taken account of
established planning policy.

34     As concluded in during the Mayor’s original consultation response, the application to
develop within metropolitan open land is contrary to local and national policy. However, the
need for the facility and lack of alternative sites constitute very special circumstances to justify
the development.

35      The design has been altered to allow for a more inclusive design. Levels of both car and
cycle parking are now acceptable. While the reconfiguration and loss of playing fields at the
two affected schools is unfortunate, the re-provision measures go a long way to overcoming
this concern. The energy efficient design of the building will reduce carbon emissions by
approximately 23% over a standard scheme, although the 1% reduction in carbon emissions
that will result from the installation of photovaltics is relatively small. The use of other
renewable technologies has been explored, but the constraints on their use have been
adequately explained to discount their feasibility in this instance.

for further information, contact Planning Decisions Unit:
Giles Dolphin, Head of Planning Decisions
020 7983 4271 email
Colin Wilson, Strategic Planning Manager (Development Decisions)
020 7983 4783 email
Loren Brown, Case Officer
020 7983 4269 email

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