6. Community Facilities



Community facilities act as important meeting places, helping to develop personal relationships and opportunities to participate in rewarding activities, as well as providing vital services to the local community. It is hard to define these facilities as not all activities and services need customised places to operate and local needs can change over time in nature and popularity. 


Both buildings and spaces function as community facilities for various educational, recreational, social or health activities. For the purposes of this chapter these policies will focus on built community facilities and open spaces used actively. Green Spaces are identified and protected in Policy ENV5 of the Natural & Built Environment Chapter. 


The most common types of facilities found in our towns and villages are as follows:


Allotments, Cemeteries, Clinics, Colleges, Health Centres, Indoor Sports Facilities, Libraries, Local Authorities Offices, Places of Worship, Playgrounds, Fire Stations, Police Stations, Schools, Sports Facilities, Sports Grounds & Fields, Village Halls, Surgeries, Theatres, Social Club, Youth Centres & Venues for Community Art/Crafts.


Snapshot of Community Facilities

Over the years an increasing number of community buildings and facilities have been lost to other development or have failed to adapt to the changing needs of communities. 


The ‘Warwickshire and Worcestershire Vital Villages Initiative' operated within the Borough and sought to counter these trends. It provided grants for village shops and other community facilities. A number of communities have benefited from this initiative.


The use of information technology, mobile facilities, joint service provision and improvements to public transport help improve people's accessibility to existing community facilities and services. 


National Policy Context

PPG3 Housing (March 2000)

  • Encourages sustainable development through improving accessibility by walking, cycling and public transport to jobs, education and health facilities, shopping, leisure and local services.

PPS12 Development Plans (2004)

  • Addresses the relationship between Local Plans and social needs.
  • Must consider the impact of land-use policies when addressing social exclusion.
  • States that social issues are relevant when considering sport and recreation provision and the provision of community space for leisure and informal recreation.
  • Local Plans can make provision for community halls, educational facilities, places of worship and other community facilities.

PPG13 Transport (March 2001)

  • Day to day facilities need to be located near their customers in local and rural service centres.
  • Adopt measures to ensure safe and easy access to facilities such as primary schools, health centres, convenience shops, branch libraries and local offices of the local authority and other local service providers, particularly by walking and cycling.

PPG13 Transport (March 2001)

  • Day to day facilities need to be located near their customers in local and rural service centres.
  • Adopt measures to ensure safe and easy access to facilities such as primary schools, health centres, convenience shops, branch libraries and local offices of the local authority and other local service providers, particularly by walking and cycling.

Regional Context

Regional Spatial Strategy for the West Midlands (June 2004)

  • Calls for development plans to provide effective community involvement to help deliver services to the needs of local people.
  • Highlights how it may be appropriate to deliver facilities close to where people live but sometimes they need to be located in towns and other centres, which are more accessible.

Sub-Regional Context

Warwickshire Structure Plan - The Structure Plan is particularly relevant in the following policies:

  • Calling for developments to "be planned so that provision for all the necessary supporting infrastructure and services can be secured" (Policy GD3c).
  • Growth levels of settlements outside the hierarchy (i.e. without basic facilities) to be determined by the community in an appraisal or assessment (Policy RA3).

Local Context

North Warwickshire Sustainable Community Plan - The ‘Community Life’ theme of the plan seeks to "promote opportunities for all members of the community to play a full part in community life". Consultation with the community revealed strong identification with local facilities and their centrality to the life of settlements. 


Summary of Local Needs and Opportunities

Over recent years, an increasing number of facilities have been lost to the detriment of communities, (particularly those people without their own transport). The opportunity should be taken to safeguard improve or replace those facilities that remain, where they are vital to the local community. 


The Plan will also encourage the more sustainable use of community facilities through promoting the dual-use and sharing of such facilities. This will be pursued in proposals to redevelop or replace such community facilities.


Community facilities need to be considered where change to, or even loss of, educational establishments is anticipated.


  1. Within development boundaries, planning permission will be granted for new community facilities (either through construction or conversion) or the extension of existing community facilities.
  2. The location, design and layout of new or extended facilities should ensure access for all members of the community.

Reasoned Justification

This policy aims to encourage new and extended community facilities to be developed within settlements with development boundaries. These settlements are of a size that can accommodate such developments and are likely to be served by public transport. 


The development or expansion of such facilities at a more localised level helps provide local people, especially socially excluded groups, with useful facilities and reduces the need to travel.


Development that would lead to the loss of land or buildings used, or last used, for the provision of community services and facilities will not be permitted in the Main Towns of Atherstone/Mancetter and Polesworth/Dordon, or in the Green Belt Market Town of Coleshill, unless:

  1. The land and buildings are unsuitable in terms of their siting, design, layout and/or construction for continued use for the provision of community facilities and services; and
  2. There is no realistic alternative community use to which they can be put.

Reasoned Justification

This policy is concerned with the protection of land and buildings for Community Facilities in the Main Towns and Green Belt Market Town. The policy will ensure that land and buildings used for the provision of community facilities (rather than the use itself) will be maintained in the most accessible locations within a settlement. Provision of community services and facilities in the villages and rural areas of the Borough is the subject matter of policy ECON12. 


When community buildings are redeveloped, community facilities seldom survive. This loss can lead to pressure to accommodate the future requirements for community uses in less accessible locations and not on previously developed land. This is contrary to current Government Guidance, which places importance on such facilities being in accessible locations well served by public transport. Policy ENV5 within this plan seeks to protect open spaces from development, especially those used by the community. 


These tests ensure that the local communities whom these facilities serve will be effectively involved in decisions about their future. 


Current Parish Plans or equivalent widespread and inclusive community endorsed documents will be used to establish whether there is local need for such assets. More weight will be given to documents that have undergone extensive consultation with the local community. This will include local community representatives from the Parish Council; residents associations; local businesses; community groups and religious organisations. In the absence of such material an independent audit will need to be funded by the developer to ascertain such information. The involvement of the local community and its representatives (as listed above) should also be actively sought. It is expected that the audit will indicate the nature and extent of community needs in the area, the suitability of the land and/or buildings concerned for such purposes, and whether provision to meet these in whole or part on the site would be physically or economically viable, or could be made so with identified sources of funding support. 


  1. The Council will seek to achieve the maximum public benefit from existing educational buildings and will negotiate joint use agreements where new development is proposed.
  2. Where educational establishments become surplus to requirements and where new development is proposed the Council will require the applicant to demonstrate satisfactory arrangements for the accommodation of community facilities.

Reasoned Justification

Education sites and buildings are vital community facilities. Often these facilities are dedicated to one user group. However, considerable benefits can be gained from sharing such facilities, especially when time requirements differ but space requirements are similar. Planning applications provide the opportunity to review the community use of these premises and effectiveness of this in terms of joint use.


Educational facilities are regularly reviewed and in the past this has resulted in the loss of such a facility (the premises) and its availability for community use. This policy aims to ensure that an alternative educational or community use is established in the premises or on the site. 


The advent of life-long learning is creating a demand to cater for the learning needs of all ages. Dual use at existing schools or the use of former schools can prove excellent facilities for such initiatives. 

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