Planning Portal

PPS 8: Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation
Policy OS 4

Policy OS 4 Intensive Sports Facilities
The Department will only permit the development of intensive sports facilities where these are located within settlements.
An exception may be permitted in the case of the development of a sports stadium where all the following criteria are met:
  1. there is no alternative site within the settlement which can accommodate the development;
  2. the proposed development site is located close to the edge of the settlement and can be clearly identified as being visually associated with the settlement;
  3. there is no adverse impact on the setting of the settlement; and
  4. the scale of the development is in keeping with the size of the settlement.
In all cases the development of intensive sports facilities will be required to meet all the following criteria:
  • there is no unacceptable impact on the amenities of people living nearby by reason of the siting, scale, extent, frequency or timing of the sporting activities proposed, including any noise or light pollution likely to be generated;
  • there is no adverse impact on features of importance to nature conservation, archaeology or built heritage;
  • buildings or structures are designed to a high standard, are of a scale appropriate to the local area or townscape and are sympathetic to the surrounding environment in terms of their siting, layout and landscape treatment;
  • the proposed facility takes into account the needs of people with disabilities and is located so as to be accessible to the catchment population giving priority to walking, cycling and public transport; and
  • the road network can safely handle the extra vehicular traffic the proposal will generate and satisfactory arrangements are provided for site access, car parking, drainage and waste disposal.

Justification and Amplification

5.37 Intensive sports facilities, for the purposes of this PPS, include stadia, leisure centres, sports halls, swimming pools and other indoor and outdoor sports facilities that provide for a wide range of activities. Apart from facilitating sport such facilities often serve as a focus for the community and are therefore best located in settlements where they can be accessed most easily by a significant local catchment population.
5.38 The precise location of intensive sports facilities can be contentious. They can attract large numbers of people, particularly in the evenings and at weekends. They can also generate increased noise levels, operate long hours, attract a large number of vehicle movements and can require large car parking areas. Specific problems may also arise where floodlighting is proposed (see also Policy OS 7).
5.39 The Department wishes to ensure that development of intensive sports facilities takes place in appropriate locations, are of good design and apply the principles of sustainability. Factors which are important in assessing development proposals include the need for the facility, the size and make up of the proposed catchment population, accessibility to this population in terms of walking and cycling distances, proximity to public transport, the impact on the local environment and residential amenity, traffic generation and, where appropriate, the proximity to existing facilities of a similar size and nature. Detailed information on these matters should accompany proposals for intensive sports facilities to enable the Department to make a full assessment of the development.
5.40 It is acknowledged that specific difficulties may arise in seeking to locate a sports stadium within a settlement, particularly larger scale proposals. Exceptionally, the Department may be prepared to accept such development at the edge of a settlement. In such cases applicants will need to provide, as part of the application, specific justification for the choice of site together with details of what alternative sites were considered and the reasons these could not accommodate the development. Ease of access will be a key issue in assessing such proposals, in particular, the availability of public transport.
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