Woking Borough Council

CS17 Open space, green infrastructure, sport and recreation

The purpose of the policy is to provide opportunity for people to participate and enjoy sports and recreation and to facilitate effective access to the countryside and the amenity that it offers. This is essential to the wellbeing of the community.

Open space, green infrastructure, sports and recreation areas are highly valued by local people and play a key role in the Borough's landscape setting and local identity, whilst also providing habitats for wildlife, and land for agriculture and forestry.

Green infrastructure relates to a network of multi-functional open space and other environmental features. The following can form part of green infrastructure networks.

  • Parks and gardens.
  • Natural and semi-natural greenspaces.
  • Green corridors.
  • Outdoor sports facilities.
  • Amenity greenspace.
  • Provision for children and teenagers.
  • Allotments, community gardens and urban farms.
  • Cemeteries and churchyards.
  • Accessible countryside in urban fringe areas.
  • River and canal corridors.
  • Green roofs and walls.

CS17: Open space, green infrastructure, sport and recreation

All proposals for new residential developments (other than replacement dwellings) will be required to contribute towards the provision of the following:

  • children's play areas and outdoor recreational facilities for young people.
  • outdoor sports facilities.

Developers will be expected to contribute to provision through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) or on larger sites through on-site provision and/or a S106 contribution as appropriate.

Development involving the loss of public open space will not be permitted unless:

  • alternative and equivalent provision is made available in the vicinity
  • or the development is directly related to the enhancement of the open space.

There will be a presumption against any development that involves the loss of a sport, recreation or play facility except where it can be demonstrated that there is an excess of provision, or where alternative facilities of equal or better quality will be provided as part of the development.

Development involving the loss of open space to which the general public do not have a right of access, such as school playing fields or allotments, will only be permitted if it passes the tests in PPG17: Open space, sport and recreation (or any guidance that supersedes this). The loss of public open space will not be permitted where there will be adverse impacts on biodiversity.

Planning applications for development that would create additional pressures on the green infrastructure network should incorporate proposals to improve the network sufficient to address these pressures.

The Council encourages the improvement of the quality and quantity of the Green infrastructure network in the Borough. The protection and enhancement of physical access, including public rights of way to open space and green infrastructure is supported.

Allotment numbers in the Borough should be protected and there will be in-principle support for new allotments.

Development will not normally be permitted which would have a detrimental impact upon the landscape quality, ecological value or water quality of the following corridors. The Environment Agency require undeveloped buffer zones alongside watercourses to help protect them (8 metres for main rivers and 5 metres for ordinary watercourses). These include the:

  • Valley of the Wey and Wey Navigation
  • Hoe Valley
  • Basingstoke Canal
  • Bourne Stream.

The Council will seek to protect river corridors by creating undeveloped buffer zones, which will serve as green infrastructure as well as habitat of biodiversity value.

New residential units within five km of an SPA will be required to provide or contribute to the provision and improvement of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) which is a component of Green Infrastructure and also its Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM). This land will be used to mitigate the impact and effect of residential development on the SPA, by providing informal recreation land of appropriate quality across Woking Borough. Standards for the provision of SANG are set out in the Council's Thames Basin Heaths SPA Avoidance Strategy 2010-15.

Reasoned justification

In line with the requirements of PPG17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation, an audit of open space, sport and recreation facilities in the Borough has been carried out and updated in 2008. The study found there is a deficit of these facilities in the Borough. Therefore, it is appropriate to require new residential development, which results in a net increase in units, to contribute to the provision of children's play areas, outdoor recreational facilities for teenagers and outdoor sport facilities.

Improved play provision for children and young people will be made to serve local areas where there is an identified shortfall, or to meet increased demands as a result of new development. The Infrastructure Delivery Plan sets out the detail of identified need in the Borough.

Outdoor sports facilities will be provided to meet identified demands and shortfall as highlighted in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan and previously in the Open Space, Sport and Recreational Facilities Audit (2008).

Where provision is provided on site, the current National Playing Field Association standards should be applied. The Accessible Natural Greenspace Standards (ANGSt) produced by Natural England should also be adhered to. Assessing current provision against ANGSt helps the Council to identify where adequate provision is being made for natural green space, and where action needs to be taken to deliver appropriate levels of natural space close to people's homes.

The Council's current priorities for addressing shortfalls in children's play areas are parts of:

  • Barnsbury
  • Brookwood
  • Byfleet (north of Parvis Road)
  • Goldsworth Park (St John's Road area)
  • Maybury (area around Windsor Way)
  • Pyrford Village.

A need for additional multi-use games areas suitable for teenagers has been identified in many parts of the Borough. The Infrastructure Delivery Plan sets out the detail of identified need in the Borough.

The Council recognises that river and canal corridors are of great importance for water resources, water quality, nature conservation, recreation and landscape value. Rivers and canals are also an important source of open space and can also form valuable links between habitats (as set out in PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation). Wetland habitats, open space and green infrastructure aid with flood storage and biodiversity.

Natural England has demonstrated that the new population arising from housing developments at a distance of up to 5km away from the SPA can cause significant disturbance to the breeding success of rare bird populations. This is because of the impact of recreational activities of residents, in particular walking, and walking with dogs. As a result, all housing developments within 5km of the SPA will now be subject to stringent tests and impact assessments. SANG attracts informal recreation users, such as dog walkers, and walkers away from Special Protection Areas. SANG can be new open space or the improvement of existing open space to increase its capacity for informal recreation, at a minimum standard of 8 hectares per 1,000 population. SANG land is to be provided and maintained in perpetuity in line with the quality and quantity standards advocated by Natural England - the Government's advisor on these matters. Full information about the Boroughs Special Protection Areas and the SANG is set out in the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area Avoidance Strategy 2010-15.

Delivery strategy

Through the protection of existing facilities to meet current and future need and demand.

This will be achieved through the Development Management process and where appropriate developer contributions.

By working in partnership with local community groups, partner organisations and providers of open space, sports facilities and green infrastructure in the Borough and in areas adjoining the Borough.

Regarding green infrastructure, quantitative improvements will be achieved through the incorporation in development proposals of extensions to the network. Qualitative improvements could include financial contributions to attain enhanced management. If this is not possible, there may be circumstances where such development may be acceptable if it includes full compensatory measures.

SANGs will be delivered by the implementation of policy CS7: Biodiversity, International, National, Regional and Local Nature Designations and the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area Avoidance Strategy 2010 - 2015.

Monitoring and review

Net change (positive or negative) in the amount of green infrastructure, public open space and built sports facilities.

Key evidence base

Green Spaces Development Plan, 2005.

Open Space, Sport and Recreational Facilities Audit, updated 2008.

Playing Pitch Strategy, 2006.

Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area Avoidance Strategy 2010-15.

PPS9 Biodiversity and Geological Conservation.

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan, 2011.