3. Prosperous Communities
PC0: Prosperous Communities
The Council will promote sustainable economic development to support a vibrant and thriving economy to deliver the jobs the District needs during the plan period in line with following principles:
to support more sustainable patterns of growth focusing development, where we can, on previously developed land in the most sustainable locations;
to ensure employment opportunities are provided to balance housing growth across the District;
to support the continued role of the sub-regional economy as a focus for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering;
to deliver a local economic and prosperity strategy;
to enable thriving and vibrant town centres which fulfil a range of functions;
to support major sites in the District which play a key role in the economy;
to protect and support a strong tourism sector, especially seeking to enhance our town centres as attractive places to visit;
to support the important role that culture and leisure assets play in our communities and economy, particularly focusing on the role of town centres;
to support opportunities for regeneration
3.1 National planning policy states that significant weight should be placed on the need to support and encourage sustainable economic growth. Economic growth generates wealth and raises living standards which contribute towards the quality of people’s lives.
3.2 The District has a broad economy with strong representation in a number of key sectors, including retail and tourism. It is important that the right level of employment is provided to meet the needs arising from housing growth provided through this Plan. In doing this the priority should be to achieve sustainable patterns of growth by directing development to accessible locations and, where possible, to previously developed land.
3.3 The Council recognises the District’s role in supporting the sub-regional economy. The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has prepared a Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) which sets out its priorities for driving forward the sub-regional economy. Building on its existing strengths, it is proposed that Coventry and Warwickshire will be recognised as a global hub in the advanced manufacturing and engineering (AME) sector which currently employs 34,000 people in the sub-region (57% greater than the national average). It is intended that through the delivery of the SEP direct employment in advanced manufacturing and engineering will increase by 8,835 people by 2025.
3.4 The sub-region has the key components of a high performing economy being well placed on the strategic transport network with excellent links to London, housing two universities and a number of world class research and development and multinational companies
3.5 Through the SEP the CWLEP is prioritising: the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway Site as a key employment site; investment for Coventry Station; the completion of the rail corridor from Warwick/Royal Leamington Spa to Nuneaton via Coventry known as NUCKLE; and a commitment to the delivery of 76,000 homes across the sub-region. A number of business-led schemes are prioritised to support the expansion of the AME sector.
3.6 The SEP has identified a core geographical area within which the CWLEP will prioritise its investment and other support. This includes the A46 from M40 Junction 15 to M6 Junction 2, the NUCKLE rail corridor, the urban centres of Warwick Leamington and Kenilworth and the University of Warwick. Major existing and proposed employment sites within Warwick District such as Tournament Fields, Stoneleigh Park, the Coventry & Warwickshire Gateway and the employment allocations to the south of Warwick/Royal Leamington Spa and at Thickthorn, Kenilworth all lie within this area. This plan has a role in delivering employment sites that meet the needs of the priority AME sector.
3.7 The Council will be setting out its vision for delivering prosperity in the District’s economy. This plan has a key spatial role in supporting this, by ensuring that the right level and type of employment is provided and that opportunities for regeneration are supported.
3.8 There are a number of key employment sites in the District which play an important role in the local, sub regional and in some cases the national economy. The Former Honiley Airfield, Stoneleigh Park and Stoneleigh Deer Park all have long term development plans which will deliver specific benefits to the economy. As well as being recognised as a higher education institution of international importance, the University of Warwick has strong links to the automotive research and design sectors. The Council will support these sites in realising their current Masterplans. Future development aspirations beyond those currently approved will need to be given careful consideration given the site’s sensitive rural locations.
3.9 Cultural assets such as theatres, cinemas, libraries, historic sites, places of worship and other meeting places can enrich people’s quality of life. They can also act as a magnet to attract visitors and thus form a key part of the economy. It is therefore appropriate to consider how planning can assist in culture and tourism.
3.10 National policy identifies the following uses as main town centre uses: retail development (including warehouse clubs and factory outlet centres); leisure, entertainment facilities and the more intensive sport and recreation uses (including cinemas, restaurants, drive-through restaurants, bars and pubs, night-clubs, casinos, health and fitness centres, indoor bowling centres, and bingo halls); offices; and arts, culture and tourism development (including theatres, museums, galleries and concert halls, hotels and conference facilities). This range of uses is consistent with the Council’s ambitions of building thriving and vibrant town centres with a strong mix of uses. The policies of this Plan seek to focus new development for such use on town centres and seek to protect the best of what the town centres already have to offer. In this way it is hoped that town centres will offer a variety of culture and leisure activities for residents, town centre workers and visitors to enjoy.
3.11 Despite the economic downturn the District’s economy has remained in a strong position relative to Warwickshire and the UK as a whole. It is characterised by continued low levels of unemployment and the highest GVA per head in Warwickshire. The long term outlook is that the District will continue to perform better than the West Midlands. The total number of people employed in the District in 2011 was 90,351 (Cambridge Econometrics 2013) and this is expected to increase by 11.6% over the plan period, a net increase of 10,200 jobs. In 2011 the unemployment rate in Warwick District (4.6%) was almost half of that of the West Midlands (8.8%) and England (8.1%). The labour market of the District is characterised by a strong skills profile, above average economic participation and above average wages.
3.12 The District has strong representation in a number of key sectors. Growth in the financial and business services sector is expected to exceed that in the West Midlands as a whole, the largest sector within this being professional services. Clusters of high technology focused activities are also expected to perform well in the District. The sub-region has a particular strength in the automotive and advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors in which Warwick plays a key role.
3.13 The District has a good range of land within its employment portfolio. The District’s economy and position with regard to the strategic highway network means the supply is orientated towards B1 office accommodation and smaller industrial premises (sub 5,000 sq. m).
EC1 Directing New Employment Development
In Urban Areas
New office development (within Use Class B1(a)) will be permitted within the town centres. Outside of town centres office development will be permitted in accordance with criteria A to C below.
Small scale office development may be appropriate within the upper floors of local shopping centres.
New employment development (within Use Classes B1 (b) and (c), B2 and B8) will be permitted in the following locations:
within the employment land allocated as part of the Strategic Urban Extensions in policy DS9;
within established and committed employment areas in Policy EC3;
in accordance with policy TR11, within the town centres, subject to the town centre policies or any subsequent Area Action Plan coming into effect after this plan.
Proposals for office development in locations at the edge of the town centres will also be considered if no suitable sites are available in any of the preferred locations above. Only if no suitable sites are available in an edge-of-centre location will out-of-centre locations be considered. An impact assessment will be required for out of town proposals over 2,500 sq.m.
Proposals for non-office employment development (i.e. development within Use Classes B1 (b) and (c) B2 and B8) not falling within any of categories a) to c) above will be resisted unless it is shown that no suitable sites are available within any of those categories.
In Rural Areas
New employment development will be permitted in the rural areas in the following circumstances:
To promote sustainable development in the growth villages (identified on the Policies Map)
For the diversification of agricultural and other land based rural businesses in accordance with policy EC2
Within the major sites identified on the policies map in accordance with Policy MS2.
Within the allocated sub regional employment site where it provides for sub regional employment needs in accordance with DC13
To support the sustainable growth and expansion of existing rural business and enterprise
In all instances applicants will be required to demonstrate that:
The proposal would not generate significant traffic movements which would compromise the delivery of wider sustainable transport objectives, including safety, in accordance with TR2
The design and scale of the proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the landscape and character of the area
In the Green Belt proposals will be determined in line with national policy and policies MS1 andMS2
In Urban Areas
3.14 In directing employment development to the urban locations set out in this policy the intention is to support the retention of existing and committed employment areas, to prioritise the re use of previously developed land and promote sustainable patterns of development. It will ensure that employment areas are well distributed within the urban areas close to existing and future housing development and accessible by public transport.
3.15 The policy is applicable to all proposals for employment development, including new build, redevelopments, change of use, intensifications and extensions. Existing and committed employment areas are protected through Policy EC3.
3.16 National planning policy identifies offices as a main town centre use. In accordance with this the policy directs offices to town centres. The policy also identifies a range of other locations and sites where offices and other employment uses will also be permitted. These are considered to be suitable in terms of their accessibility and location, as they are well related to existing employment and housing areas.
3.17 For employment proposals outside of the above locations (that are not in accordance with this Plan) applicants will be required to demonstrate that there are no other sequentially preferable alternatives available.
In Rural Areas
3.18 National planning policy is clear that planning policies should support economic growth in rural areas in order to create jobs and prosperity. The Local Plan supports the expansion and growth of businesses not just through the conversion of existing buildings but also through the development of well-designed new buildings.
3.19 The District has a range of existing businesses operating in the rural areas and continues to experience growth in rural enterprise from agricultural diversification and landowners wishing to reuse existing redundant buildings. The rural area is also attractive for businesses looking to relocate. The roll out of high speed broadband across the District as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire broadband project will also increase opportunities for home working.
3.20 In supporting the rural economy it is important that a balance is reached between the needs and aspirations of rural businesses and enterprise, the need to foster sustainable patterns of development and the need to protect the character and quality of the countryside. It is important that this Plan allows appropriate rural enterprise to grow and expand whilst protecting the countryside from development and uses which should be directed to urban areas. The policy therefore sets out the instances where B class employment uses may be appropriate.
3.21 There may be opportunities to support sustainable patterns of development by locating small scale employment development in the growth villages where housing is proposed through this plan.
3.22 In assessing proposals, the Council will seek to ensure that the scale and nature of the development would not lead to a dispersal of activity likely to increase reliance on the private car, compromise sustainability objectives or affect the vitality of nearby towns. For example the conversion of very large rural buildings may prejudice the reuse of previously developed land in urban areas and may cause an increase in vehicle movements in less sustainable locations. Furthermore, the design of new employment buildings should maintain the character and amenity of the rural area and should be appropriate to the locality. The expansion and redevelopment of existing rural businesses needs in particular to be carefully managed to ensure that the scale of the operation is sensitive to the rural location.
3.23 In the Green Belt policies would also need to satisfy the policies governing development there. National planning policies make provision for the re use of buildings of a permanent and substantial nature and the limited infilling and redevelopment of previously developed land may be permitted providing the proposal maintains the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it.
EC2 Farm Diversification
Proposals for the diversification of agricultural and land based rural businesses will be permitted in line with the following criteria:
best and most versatile agricultural land is protected
the scale and nature of the proposals are appropriate to their rural location so that they can be satisfactorily integrated into the landscape without being detrimental to its character
Existing buildings are used in preference to new buildings
In the Green Belt proposals will be permitted in line with national policy.
3.24 Farming makes a significant contribution to the rural economy however increasingly diversification into non-agricultural activities is becoming vital to the continuing viability of many farm businesses.
3.25 Diversification can take a range of forms and it is important that any proposals are sustainable and appropriate within the countryside. As well as supporting the long term viability of the existing business, proposals must be consistent in their scale and nature with their rural location.
3.26 In assessing proposals the Council will seek to ensure that the scale and nature of the development would not lead to a dispersal of activity likely to increase reliance on the private car, compromise sustainability objectives or affect the vitality of nearby towns.
3.27 It is also important to ensure that agricultural land is protected and retained and that any proposal would not prejudice the future viability of the agricultural business. Best and most versatile agricultural land should be protected in line with Policy NE5.
3.28 All proposals must therefore be able to demonstrate how they protect the character of the countryside visually (the impact of new buildings and activities on the landscape), functionally (the impact of noise and traffic) and environmentally (the protection of best and most versatile agricultural land).
3.29 For the purposes of this policy land based rural businesses do not include those relating to equine activities.
3.30 In the Green Belt the re use of buildings of a permanent and substantial nature and the limited infilling and redevelopment of previously developed land may be permitted providing the proposal maintains the openness of the Green Belt.
EC3 Protecting Employment Land and Buildings
Outside of town centres the redevelopment or change of use of existing and committed employment land and buildings (Use Classes B1, B2 and B8) for other uses will not be permitted unless:
it can be demonstrated that there is an adequate supply of allocated employment sites in the District having regard to quantity and quality;
it can be demonstrated that the use of the land or buildings for the existing or alternative employment uses would not be viable;
it can be demonstrated that the site is not suitable for employment uses due to unacceptable and unavoidable impacts upon nearby residential uses;
it is land identified as being suitable for other uses as part of the identified Canalside and Employment Regeneration areas (Policy EC4) or
the proposal is solely for affordable housing as defined in national guidance.
This policy does not apply to land which provides for sub regional employment needs
3.31 It is important to ensure that an adequate supply of employment land is provided throughout the plan period to meet current and future business needs and support existing and growing economic sectors. This is both in terms of the overall quantity and quality of the supply but also allowing for choice. The district has a wide range of employment areas catering for different employment needs from high quality employment sites such as Warwick Technology Park to more traditional industrial areas meeting specific local needs. Committed and allocated sites also make up an important part of the employment land portfolio in providing for future demand. This policy applies to the protection of B Class (Use classes B1, B2 and B8) employment uses.
3.32 The District has in the past experienced and continues to experience pressure for the redevelopment of existing employment land for other uses particularly for residential development. The Council is committed to protecting the supply of employment land in the District. However, it is recognised that there may be instances where employment land or buildings may no longer meet identified business needs.
3.33 National policy is clear that land allocations should be regularly reviewed and, where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for employment purposes, applications for other uses should be considered on merit.
3.34 The Council has identified the amount of employment land required during the plan period to support economic and housing growth. The balance between the demand and existing supply has been considered both in terms of the overall quantity and the quality of the land available. This exercise led to the reallocation of certain sites for residential uses.
3.35 The Council has also identified four existing employment areas of poorer quality land which may be suitable for redevelopment during the plan period as part of wider regeneration proposals. It is intended that this will be brought forward in accordance with the principles set out in the Canalside and Employment Regeneration Development Plan Document (DPD) discussed elsewhere in this plan (Policy EC3). This is important in refreshing the Districts’ stock of employment land and will include the provision of replacement land as part of the overall employment land requirement as set out in DS8. It is also important in addressing environmental issues arising from the sites being historically located within or adjacent to existing residential areas.
3.36 It is recognised that operating businesses may be affected by this policy. In such circumstances it is expected that alternative provision should be made available to any firms displaced as part of the redevelopment proposals taking account of the existing site characteristics and requirements of the business. In particular any need to be located near to the existing workforce and market should be taken into account. Proposals which fail to demonstrate how the scheme will contribute to the overall regeneration of the area in line with the principles set out in the Canalside and Employment Regeneration Areas DPD are unlikely to be suitable.
3.37 The Council recognises that there may be other instances where employment uses could have a negative impact on the amenity of nearby residential uses and therefore redevelopment for other uses would be preferable. This is both in terms of impact on residential uses in the immediate vicinity but also those nearby which could be affected by the operations of the business, for example the frequency of heavy goods vehicles.
3.38 During the plan period there may be other economic and structural changes in the economy which change the demand for employment land. This policy will ensure necessary employment land is retained but also allow flexibility for the instances where employment land or buildings are no longer suitable to meet identified business needs. The criteria in this policy identify the circumstances through which this may be demonstrated. The Council will continue to work with the business community to monitor land and building requirements throughout the plan period.
3.39 In order to demonstrate that employment land is or buildings are no longer suitable for an employment use the applicant will be expected to provide evidence that the site has been actively marketed for a period of two years at a level consistent with current local market conditions. This evidence should include whether the size and quality of space provided matches local demand, current market conditions and expected future market trends.
3.40 Notwithstanding the fact that the Council wishes to protect its existing supply of employment land, it is considered that the need to provide local affordable housing in the District is one instance where the redevelopment of existing employment land for housing may be acceptable. Although this Plan allocates sufficient land for the provision of its total housing requirement over the plan period, the affordable housing element may not be fully deliverable through Policy H2.
3.41 This policy applies to existing employment land and available employment land identified in table 1 below and shown on the Policies Map. The District’s portfolio of available employment land includes sites with planning permission, those covered by Development Briefs or allocations from the previous local plan. These sites make up a supply of 47.55 hectares and contribute towards meeting the overall employment land requirement set out in policy DS8 of this plan.
|Available Employment Land|
Land rear of Homebase, Princes Drive
Queensway Industrial Estate
Tournament Fields (land adjacent to A46)
Stoneleigh Deer Park
Former Honiley Airfield
3.42 All of the sites in this table are considered by the Council to be suitable for B Class employment uses and will be protected for such uses through this Plan. It is considered that part of the land covered by the Station Area Brief at Former Fords Foundry may also be suitable for car parking in connection with Leamington Railway Station.
3.43 This policy does not apply within the designated town centres of Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth. The Council is also committed to the protection of employment land in the town centres through Policy TC11 which identifies protected town centre employment areas
National Planning Policy Framework (Para 18 – 22, 28, 89, 90)
Employment Land Review Update (May 2013)
Joint Employment Land Review March 2014
Strategic Economic Plan (March 2014)
City Deal (2013)
Retail and Town Centres
3.44 Town centres play an important part in supporting economic growth and encouraging investment. An attractive, diverse and accessible town centre will attract people to use its shops and services, supporting new investment and jobs. This Plan aims to maintain the shopping function of the town centres of Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth and support proposals which enhance their respective roles within the local retail hierarchy. Proposals will also be encouraged which diversify the range of uses in the town centres without compromising the shopping function, particularly uses which make the town centre more attractive to residents, employers, shoppers and visitors.
3.45 Retailing and the ability of communities to have access to an appropriate network of sustainable destinations for their shopping needs is an important factor in building a successful and well balanced district.
3.46 This Plan recognises the importance of the District’s town centres, and they are very much at the heart of our communities, providing key destinations for shopping, services, employment and leisure. It is the intention of this Plan to maintain and enhance the town centres of Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth and support proposals which enhance their respective roles within the local retail hierarchy. Proposals will also be encouraged which diversify the range of uses in the town centres without compromising the shopping function, particularly uses which make the town centre more attractive to residents, employers, shoppers and visitors.
3.47 The district also has a range of major out of centre outlets, the most notable being The Leamington Shopping Park. It is recognised that whilst these outlets currently complement the district’s town centre offer, any proposals for the future expansion, intensification or changes of use at these locations should be carefully assessed to ensure that they do not have a detrimental impact on the town centres and any existing, committed or planned town centre investment.
3.48 Warwick District also has a network of local shopping centres, other smaller shopping frontages and isolated shops serving the daily needs of local communities in both the urban and rural areas. These facilities are within easy walking distance of many people thus reducing the need to travel. The policies of this Plan will seek to protect these valuable assets wherever possible.
TC1 Protecting and Enhancing the Town Centres
Subject to Policies TC2 to TC16, and any relevant area action plan, proposals for any of the main town centre uses will be permitted within town centres where they are of an appropriate scale in relation to the role and function of the town centre and provided that non-shopping proposals would not compromise its shopping function. Proposals will also be required to reflect the character and form of the town centre.
3.49 Ensuring that town centres remain the focus for new development is important to maintain local economic growth and encourage investment. It is also fundamental in achieving sustainable patterns of development within Warwick District.
3.50 This policy is consistent with Government guidance that aims to make town centres the focus for new development to ensure their continued vitality and viability. Royal Leamington Spa is recognised as Warwick District’s main town centre and it is acknowledged as a sub–regional shopping destination due to the scale and range of retail, leisure, and other main town centre uses to be found within it. Warwick and Kenilworth predominantly serve a more localised catchment and therefore perform a different role; as a consequence they have a significantly lower number of shops and services.
3.51 It is important that the town centres remain an appropriate location for the broad range of main town centre uses described in paragraph 1.10 of this chapter, including retail, leisure and entertainment facilities, appropriate sport and recreation uses, offices, arts, culture and tourism and housing. It is important that opportunities for development improve the town centres, adding to their vitality and vibrancy, whilst retaining or enhancing important characteristics. These important characteristics include the residential areas protected by policy TC13
3.52 In assessing proposals for town centre schemes, the Council will have regard to the aim of ensuring that such proposals are compatible with the scale, nature and character of that town centre. This is important given the historic nature of the three town centre; proposals will have to be of an appropriate scale and design quality in order to be successfully integrated.
3.53 Throughout the lifetime of this Plan the Council will periodically update its Retail Study in order that it can respond and continuously review its approach to the town centres and requirements for retail investment in particular. The Council is also committed to the preparation of a comprehensive Area Action Plan for Royal Leamington Spa town centre during the lifetime of this Plan.
TC2 Directing Retail Development
Within the town centres, new retail development should be located as a first preference in the retail areas defined on the Policies Map.
Where a suitable site is not available for a large scale retail development proposal within these areas in Royal Leamington Spa, the order of preference is:
the Chandos Street allocation defined on the Policies Map in accordance with Policy TC4; and then
the area of search defined on the Policies Map in accordance with Policy TC5.
Where a suitable site is not available for a retail development proposal in these areas in Warwick, the next preference is the mixed use area of Warwick town centre defined on the Policies Map in accordance with Policy TC11.
Where suitable sites are not available in any of these areas, sites in edge-of-centre locations will be considered and, if no suitable sites are available in any of the preferred locations, out-of-centre sites will be considered.
Where edge-of-centre or out-of-centre sites are considered, preference will be given within each category to accessible sites that are well connected with the town centre. Evidence of the impact on the town centre will be required where the proposal is above 500 square metres gross floorspace.
3.54 Maintaining the shopping function of the town centres is important in supporting the local economy and promoting more sustainable patterns of development. It is important therefore that any retail development proposals are directed to town centres in the first instance; an approach that is entirely consistent with Government policy. The primary objective of this policy is to maintain and enhance the viability of existing town centres through new development. The policy sets out the order of sequentially preferential locations for new investment working from the core of the town centre retail areas outwards.
3.55 The Policies Map identifies “retail areas”. These are the “primary shopping areas” as defined by national planning policy and comprise the primary retail frontages (see policy TC6) and secondary retail areas (see policy TC7) where existing retail development is concentrated within the town centres. The identification of these areas is intended to prevent the sporadic introduction of new outlets that could erode the benefits of having a defined focus of core shopping areas.
3.56 The sequential approach to be followed requires that locations are considered in the following order; first sites and buildings within the defined “retail areas” of the town centres, and then, in the case of Royal Leamington Spa, firstly the Chandos Street development allocation and secondly the area of search set out in Policy TC5 and in the case of Warwick the mixed use area set out in Policy TC11. In Kenilworth, the whole of the town centre is within the retail area. In all town centres this is then followed by edge of centre sites, and then out-of-centre sites
3.57 This policy is applicable to all proposals for new retail development including new build, redevelopments, changes of use, intensifications and extensions. Retail development is defined as shops (Use Class A1), financial and professional services (Use Class A2), restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3), drinking establishments (Use Class A4), and hot food take-aways (Use Class A5).
3.58 In assessing proposals outside of the town centres, the Council will require a Retail Impact Assessment for proposals over 500 sq. m (gross floorspace) to accompany any planning application. This should contain the following information:
In relation to proving there are no sequentially preferable sites within or adjacent (300m of the defined retail area) to town centres , a full sequential test, in accordance with Government guidance, will need to be carried out which recognises the requirement for developers and retailers to be flexible about the format, design and scale of the development and the amount of car parking required: and
Consideration of the impact of the proposal on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in a centre or centres in the catchment of the area of the proposal; and
Consideration of the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made.
3.59 Outside of town centres, the merits of individual schemes that may be smaller than 500 sq. m (gross floorspace) will be considered on a case by case basis. In some cases the Council may wish such schemes to submit a retail impact assessment, particularly if they are for convenience goods offer given the acknowledged lack of quantitative need identified in the latest retail study.
TC3 Safeguarding Existing and Potential Retail Floorspace
Within the town centre retail areas as defined on the Policies Map, changes of use from uses within Use Class A to other uses outside of Use Class A will not be permitted except for within the defined Secondary Retail Areas where changes to hotels (Use class C1) and Assembly and leisure uses (Use Class D2) will be permitted subject to the restrictions within policy TC7.
3.60 The Council is concerned to protect the shopping function of its town centres. To achieve this, the Policies Map identifies retail areas. Within these areas it is important to safeguard existing and potential retail floorspace to ensure the availability of opportunities for future/ continued investment. This policy therefore seeks to resist changes of use from all Use Class A uses (shops (Use Class A1), financial and professional services (Use Class A2), restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3), drinking establishments (Use Class A4) and hot food take-aways (Use Class A5)) to uses outside of Use Class A. This policy applies to A Class uses on upper floors, as well as at ground floor level.
3.61 This policy will apply across the district’s town centres with the exception of the secondary retail areas, where for the purposes of creating additional vitality, changes of use from A Class to Use Class C1 and D2 may be permitted subject to the detailed requirements of Policy TC7.
3.62 It is acknowledged that some uses defined as ‘Sui-Generis’ in the Use Classes Order may be appropriate in the retail areas of the town centres (such as nail-bars and beauty salons). The introduction of such uses will be considered on a case by case basis. In each instance, it will be important for the use in question to maintain the characteristics of a retail outlet, having an active shop frontage (and normally incorporating an element of sales activity).
TC4 Chandos Street Town Centre Development Allocation, Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre
The Chandos Street car park, as shown on the Policies Map, will provide the focus of a major town centre development proposal to comprise of retail and other appropriate main town centre uses.
3.63 Royal Leamington Spa is acknowledged as a sub-regional shopping destination. To further support its future success in this role, and to provide a location for future investment, the Council continues to support the Chandos Street area for the development of a major addition to the town centres retail offer. This will be necessary to underpin the town centres future vitality and viability and to ensure it remains competitive and successful over this Plan period and beyond.
3.64 The Chandos Street allocation will provide a focus for the introduction of a significant amount of new floorspace for retail and other town centre uses. This may be a mixed-use development and consideration will be given to combining retail with other main town centre uses (described in paragraph 1.10 of this Chapter). These may include leisure uses, offices and residential use.
3.65 It is recognised that to deliver a successful development, further land will be required beyond the confines of the allocated car park area. This will be necessary to create the required quantum of floorspace and also to form important connections to the key retail streets of the Parade and Warwick Street. Any development at Chandos Street will be expected to meet the criteria of policy TC5 below.
TC5 Providing for Shopping Growth in Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre
Proposals for large scale shopping development which satisfy the sequential requirements of Policy TC2 will be permitted in Royal Leamington Spa town centre provided:-
It can be demonstrated that the proposal meets retail needs in a way that is of an appropriate scale that respects the character and form of the town centre;
Proposals create strong and direct pedestrian links between the existing main shopping areas along the primary retail frontages and the development; and
The impact of the proposal upon traffic movement is fully considered and appropriate measures to promote public transport and provide car parking are included in the proposal.
3.66 It is important for both the social and economic well-being of the District to protect the role of Royal Leamington Spa town centre as the District’s main focus for retail activity. The identification of additional sites for large scale, comprehensive development will prove necessary to reinforce Royal Leamington Spa’s market position in relation to other competing centres in the region.
3.67 The objective of this policy is to set out a framework for considering any major retail proposals that may come forward within Royal Leamington Spa town centre. The most recent Retail Study (March 2014) has identified the fact that if Royal Leamington Spa town centre wishes to maintain its role as a sub-regional shopping destination, it will be advised to provide a significant amount of new floorspace during the plan period.
3.68 The retail areas defined on the Policies Map are the preferred location for retail development in Royal Leamington Spa. After this, in the case of large scale development, the Council has identified and prioritised Chandos Street as a development site for further town centre investment in Royal Leamington Spa. If this location is not feasible, consideration will be given to other large scale proposals within the identified area of search as defined on the Policies Map.
3.69 If further retail floorspace, of whatever scale, is supported it is important that this new investment does not have a detrimental impact upon the existing town centre businesses, the balance of retail uses, its historic fabric and its infrastructure. In considering all future proposals, The Council will have regard to:-
the physical capacity of the historic core of the town centre to absorb significant further retail growth;
the ability of any proposal to include high quality pedestrian (and where appropriate cycle) access that meets standards for accessibility and inclusion set out in policy TR1;
the implications of retail growth upon key town centre infrastructure including car parking and public transport; and
the likely market interest in major new retail opportunities
3.70 In formulating any proposals for further retail floorspace, the Council will also consider demand for further leisure uses and other main town centre uses which could be incorporated into the schemes.
3.71 For the operation of this policy ‘large scale’ retail proposal refers to proposals with a floorspace of over 500 sq. m.
TC6 Primary Retail Frontages
Changes of use from shops (Use Class A1) to financial and professional services (Use Class A2) or restaurants (Use Class A3) or drinking establishments (Use Class A4) or hot food take-aways (Use Class A5) will be permitted within the Primary Retail Frontages defined on the Policies Map provided that :-
No more than 25% of the total length of the frontage would result in a non-A1 use; and
The proposal would not contribute to creating, a continuous non A1 frontage of more than 16 metres.
3.72 In order to ensure the continued success of the District’s town centres as shopping destinations, it is important to ensure that core areas are protected from the introduction of an unacceptable level of non-shopping uses (defined as not being within Use Class A1). If left unchecked, the introduction of non-shopping uses could over time prejudice the predominantly retail character and function of the most important retail streets. The objective of this policy is to restrict the introduction of non- A1 uses to the most important shopping streets in order to protect the retail character and function of these core areas.
3.73 In order to protect this retail character, areas of primary retail frontages have been defined tightly to protect the retail heart of the town centres. Within the primary retail frontages, non- A1 uses will be closely monitored and the overall level and excessive grouping/ concentration of these uses will be resisted.
3.74 The excessive concentration of A3 and A4 uses related to licenced premises has previously raised concerns (particularly in Royal Leamington Spa) with regard to community safety issues. As well as protecting the integrity of the retail function, this policy will also have the effect of ensuring that an element of control of the overall numbers and location of A3, A4 and A5 premises (which includes licensed premises) can be maintained. Following the 2003 Licensing Act, the Council works actively with the police, local community groups and residents to ensure licensing issues are correctly considered and that the amenity of residents and other interests is protected.
3.75 For operational purposes of both this policy and policy TC7 below, a frontage will be defined as a continuous elevation of retail uses as defined on the Policies Map. The limit of a frontage will usually be defined by a break in the buildings caused by a road or other public space. Furthermore, for the purposes of determining a planning application, when calculating the percentage of the frontage which would be in a non-A1 use, this should include the proposal in question.
TC7 Secondary Retail Areas
Changes of Use from shops (Use Class A1) to financial and professional services (Use Class A2), or restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3), or drinking establishments (Use Class A4), or hot food take-aways (Use Class A5) or hotels (Use Class C1) or leisure and assembly uses (Use Class D2) will be permitted within Secondary Retail Areas provided that:
No more than 50 % of the street frontage concerned would result in a non-A1 use; and
The proposal would not contribute to creating, a continuous non-A1 frontage of more than 16 metres.
In exceptional cases, proposals that do not fulfil the second criterion may be accepted where they would not have a prominence in the streetscape that would affect the predominantly retail character of the area.
3.76 The vitality of the town centres can be maintained and enhanced by encouraging an appropriate range of uses within them where these do not threaten the centres retailing role. The objective of this policy is to identify locations where this mix can be encouraged.
3.77 The secondary retail areas are all of the retail areas on the Policies Map that are not otherwise defined as primary retail frontage (and covered by policy TC6 and cross hatched in blue on the Policies Map). Secondary retail areas are still essentially shopping areas and in these areas the Council will preserve their predominantly retail character by requiring that controls are placed upon the maximum levels of non-retail uses. The only exceptions to this will be the café/ restaurant quarters defined in policies TC8 and TC9.
TC8 Warwick Café Quarter
Changes of use from shops (Use Class A1) and financial and professional services (Use Class A2) to restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3) or drinking establishments (Use Class A4) will be permitted within Market Place, Warwick as defined on the Policies Map.
When granting planning permission for A3 or A4 uses, permitted development rights for changes of use to A2 from A3 or A4 will be removed.
3.78 Within Warwick town centre, there exists an opportunity to create a café quarter to form a specific area for the location of A3 and A4 uses. This quarter will provide visitors with attractions to complement shopping and leisure related journeys to the town centre and give the town centre the opportunity to respond positively to the potential created by tourism and visitor related income. This approach reflects Government advice to ensure that town centres provide a diverse range of attractions to complement their shopping focus, and also the ability to promote leisure uses and the evening economy.
3.79 This will provide an opportunity to create stronger physical links between Warwick town centre and the castle. It is intended to achieve this by creating more attractions within the town centre and making visitors aware of them. The pedestrianisation of, and enhancements to the Market place has created the opportunity to capitalise on this by the creation of a café quarter where A3 and A4 uses will be encouraged.
TC9 Royal Leamington Spa Restaurant and Café Quarter
Changes of use from shops (Use Class A1) to restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3) will be permitted within Regent Court, Royal Leamington Spa as defined on the Policies Map.
When granting planning permission for restaurant and café (A3) uses, permitted development rights for changes of use to financial and professional services (use class A2) will be removed.
3.80 The Council has noted the potential to work with the owners of this development to create a vibrant restaurant/ café quarter. In enabling the unrestricted introduction of A3 uses to the entirety of this area as defined on the Policies Map, it is intended to form a focussed destination for restaurants and cafes.
3.81 The addition of this restaurant and café quarter will enhance the vitality of the town centre by enabling the owners of Regent Court to rebrand the street, providing visitors to the town centre with a specific attraction to complement shopping, leisure and other related journeys to the town. This will also help deliver wider benefits of increased footfall and pedestrian circulation to this area of the town centre. The Council recognises, however, that new restaurant and café uses will need to operate alongside existing local residents. For this reason, appropriate planning conditions will be imposed on new A3 uses within Regent Court to protect residential amenity. Furthermore, changes of use to drinking establishments (use class A4) will not be acceptable in this area.
TC10 Royal Leamington Spa Area Action Plan (AAP)
During the Plan Period, the Council will commit to prepare an Area Action Plan for Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre.
3.82 Given its importance to Warwick District it is clear that the Council needs to continue to be proactive in managing the future of Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre. The Council will commit to prepare an Area Action Plan for Royal Leamington Spa during the lifetime of this Plan to help ensure the continued vitality and viability of the town centre.
3.83 It will be necessary to engage with key stakeholders and the community in this endeavour to ensure that future development, regeneration and management of the town centre is delivered in a cohesive way in order to provide positive and achievable changes to the town centre over the plan period.
3.84 The AAP will look to identify areas for future investment and opportunities for the introduction of appropriate land uses.
3.85 Key themes of the Area Action Plan will include:-
A Master Vision for the Town Centre
Examination / Identification of the potential for future strategic allocations
A review of regeneration potential and the identification of development opportunity sites and potential uses (particularly in the Wise Street area and in the vicinity of Spencer’s Yard)
Improvements to the environment / public realm
Vehicular and pedestrian movement strategies, (including parking)
TC11 Warwick Town Centre Mixed Use Area
Within the mixed use area of Warwick town centre as defined on the Polices Map, development of residential, shops (Use Class A1), financial and professional services (Use Class A2), restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3), drinking establishments (Use Class A4), hot food take-aways (Use Class A5), or hotels Use Class (C1), leisure and assembly (Use Class D2) and business uses (Use Class B1) will be permitted.
3.86 Within the area defined on the Policies Map as a ‘mixed use area’ no single land use predominates. The area is focussed on Church Street, Castle Street, High Street and Jury Street. It is especially interesting due to the wide range of uses of the buildings. It also, significantly, forms a link between the main shopping area of Warwick town centre and Smith Street. Proposals for development (which includes re-development or change of use) in accordance with this policy will be positively considered within this area subject to any detailed issues and the effect upon the town centre as a whole.
TC12 Protecting Town Centre Employment Land and Buildings
Within the Town Centre Employment Areas as defined on the Policies Map, the redevelopment or change of use of existing employment land and buildings to non-B Class uses will not be permitted.
3.87 Town centres provide important employment opportunities within a range of sectors. It is important to maintain a continued employment role within the town centres to provide employment opportunities in sustainable locations and as part of encouraging a diverse range of uses within town centres in accordance with Government guidance.
3.88 Policy EC3 protects all existing employment land and buildings within the district (outside of town centres). Within town centres however, a more flexible approach is considered appropriate. The objective of this policy is to protect designated existing employment areas within the town centres, but otherwise to allow greater flexibility for other existing employment land and buildings to change to other uses. The protected areas are those within Royal Leamington Spa and Warwick town centres defined as “Town Centre Employment Areas” on the Policies Map. Outside of these areas, the provisions of policy EC3 will not apply within any of the town centres.
3.89 The Council recognises the provisions put in place in 2013 regarding Permitted Development Rights in the General Development Order that allow changes of use from offices to residential use without the need for planning permission. This however, is a temporary measure that is subject to review during the life of this Plan and may not be carried forward beyond the trial period. The Council will monitor the impact of this legislation and its impact on the town centre employment areas.
3.90 In the Althorpe Street protected employment area, the Council may consider the introduction of a wider range of uses if they can positively contribute to the wider regeneration aspirations of this area of Old Town.
3.91 This policy is only concerned with the protection of existing employment land. Policy EC1 allows for new employment opportunities (Use Classes B1, B2 and B8) to be created within town centres subject to other policies within this chapter.
TC13 Protecting the Residential Role of Town Centres
Changes of use from residential to non-residential uses within the predominantly residential areas in the town centres defined on the Policies Map will only be permitted if the proposed use maintains the residential character of the area.
3.92 All of the district’s town centres contain a mix of uses and both Royal Leamington Spa and Warwick have a large number of houses and apartments within the defined town centre boundaries. This housing provides opportunities for people to live within the town centre and adds to the overall diversity and vitality but it does bring pressure as different uses seek to co-exist. It is important that housing is supported within town centres and that the amenity of people living there is protected.
3.93 Within the predominantly residential areas defined on the Policies Map, it will be important that the residential character of the area is protected. Applications for uses within these areas include small offices, dental surgeries and nurseries for the care of children. These and other uses may be appropriate within predominantly residential areas provided that the residential character and appearance of the building is not altered. In wishing to maintain the residential character of these areas the Council will have regard to the cumulative impact when considering such proposals.
3.94 This policy is only concerned with protecting the residential character of defined areas. Policy H1 allows for new housing to be provided within town centres subject to other policies within this chapter.
TC14 Protecting Residential Uses of Upper Floors
Changes of use from residential to other uses on the upper floors of buildings within the town centres will not be permitted.
3.95 As part of creating diverse and active town centres, it is important that every opportunity is given for people to live within town centres. The continued occupation of flats above the ground floor of premises throughout the town centres has a particular role to play here. Protecting upper floors for residential uses can help ensure that full use is made of buildings and that the overall quality of the environment is improved. Encouraging greater living in town centre locations can also enhance personal safety by increasing natural surveillance.
TC15 Access to Upper Floors in Town Centres
Development that denies access to the upper floors of buildings within the town centres will not be permitted
3.96 The use of upper floors in town centres is important to ensure that buildings remain in a good state of repair and also to provide opportunities to introduce other uses such as offices and residential that will have positive benefits for the town centre economy. The Council has recognised the importance of this by supporting ‘living over the shop’ initiatives and by its empty properties strategy.
3.97 Where proposals which relate to ground floor uses only are submitted, applicants will be expected to show that they have considered how access arrangements to upper floors can be achieved in the future so that, if required, buildings may be fully utilised. Where upper floors may be considered for residential or office use, this access may need to be independent from the ground floor use.
3.98 When considering proposals for listed buildings or buildings in Conservation Areas applicants must ensure that in achieving access to upper floors the quality of the building and the Conservation Area is not compromised. This issue is dealt with in policy HE2.
TC16 Design of Shopfronts
New or replacement shop fronts will be permitted where:-
They relate in scale, proportion, material and decorative treatment to the upper parts of the building and to adjoining shopfronts of sufficient high quality; and
They do not involve single shop fronts spreading over two or more frontages.
Where original or period shop fronts exist, these should be kept and restored.
3.99 The variety and quality of shopfronts within the District’s town centres contribute considerably to their character and attractiveness. Proposals for new shopfronts should take into account the character of the property and the area in order to maintain the quality of appearance. This is particularly important in relation to replacement shopfronts to listed buildings or those within conservation areas. As a general principle, within conservation areas and on listed buildings, the addition of projecting canopies will not be supported.
3.100 The Council has published detailed design guidance on shopfronts within Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa. Furthermore, it has produced supplementary planning guidance on design issues involved in increasing security for retail premises.
TC17 Local Shopping Facilities
Local Shopping Centres
Changes of use of the ground floor from shops (Use Class A1) to financial and professional services (Use Class A2) or restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3) or drinking establishments (Use Class A4) or hot food take-aways (use Class A5) will only be permitted in local shopping centres as defined on the Policies Map if:-
The shop unit has been vacant for a period of at least 1 year or evidence can be provided that the unit has been actively marketed on reasonable terms for a shop use for a period of at least 9 months without success: or
It is demonstrated that the proposed use will significantly increase pedestrian footfall in the centre, will introduce a new use into the centre which meets local needs, and will not reduce the proportion of shop frontage in the centre below 50%.
Changes of use from Use Class A to other uses will be permitted provided that the proposal is for a service or facility which can be demonstrated to meet an important unmet local need and which can be satisfactorily controlled by planning condition.
Protecting local shops outside of town and local shopping centres
In urban locations changes of use of shops (Use Class A1), outside town centres and local shopping centres, to financial and professional services (Use Class A2) or restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3) or drinking establishments (Use Class A4) or hot food take-aways (Use Class A5) will not be permitted.
Rural shops and services
In rural locations the development or expansion of existing shops and local services within settlements will be permitted where these meet local retail or service needs. Proposals that result in the loss of such units to other uses will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that:-
The unit is no longer financially viable
The unit has been actively marketed on reasonable terms for use as a shop or local service for a period of 12 months without success: and
All reasonable other options to find a new use for the unit have been pursued
3.101 To meet the day to day shopping needs of consumers and reduce the need to travel it is important that the retail function of local shopping centres, small shopping frontages and isolated shops in the District is protected and where appropriate enhanced.
Local shopping centres
3.102 Local shopping centres provide a range of services and facilities that meet the day-to-day shopping needs of local people. They are often centrally located within a neighbourhood and can encourage walking and cycling as a mode of transport. The centres also have a wider social role in providing places for social interaction within communities. The protection of their shopping function is therefore very important and the loss of shop units to non-retail uses will be generally resisted.
3.103 For the purpose of this policy, local centres are defined as a small group of shops consisting of a cluster of six or more units (normally in a continuous elevation), typically comprising a newsagent, general grocery store, post office, and other small shops of a local nature. This policy is only applicable to the ground floor of units within the local shopping centres defined on the Policies Map and listed below.
Albion Street, Kenilworth
High Street, Kenilworth
Leyes Lane, Kenilworth
The Oaks Precinct, Scott Road , Kenilworth
Crown Way, Lillington, Royal Leamington Spa
High Street/ Queen Street, Cubbington
Rugby Road, Cubbington
Rugby Road, Royal Leamington Spa
St Margaret’s Road, Royal Leamington Spa
Sydenham Drive, Royal Leamington Spa
Coten End, Warwick
Percy Estate(The Chantry), Warwick
Reardon Court, Woodloes, Warwick
Shakespeare Avenue, Warwick
Othello Avenue, Warwick Gates
Heathcote Road, Whitnash
Home Farm Crescent, Whitnash
Narrow Hall, Meadow Road, Chase Meadow, Warwick
3.104 Whilst the objective of this policy is to retain general shops, the Council recognises that changes in peoples shopping habits may result in changes to the type of uses that are viable in local centres and to the types of uses that local people wish to see in the local centres.
3.105 The Council, therefore accepts that where there is no interest in the unit for a general shop in the foreseeable future, it is in the best interests of the local centre to allow the introduction of other uses to create footfall and maintain the appearance of the centre. In such circumstances the Council may wish to control the use, e.g. granting permission on a temporary basis to ensure the unit is not permanently lost from a retail use.
3.106 During the plan period it is likely that some of the major housing allocations will benefit from the introduction of local shopping centres to provide for the retail and service needs of the new neighbourhoods emerging at these locations. In the event that new local shopping centres are realised, the Council will protect their role and function by applying the principles of Policy TC17 until the new centre can be designated by means of a plan review.
Local shops in Urban Areas
3.107 Outside of town centres and local shopping centres are a number of small shopping frontages and isolated shops, some of which help to serve the daily needs of local communities. The Council recognises that there is a role for these shops in a way that is not the case for financial/ professional services (Use Class A2) or food and drink (Use Class A3 and A4) outlets in similar locations outside of town and local shopping centres. The objective of this policy is therefore to resist the spread of such uses to locations which may prejudice the vitality and viability of town and local centres.
Rural Shops and Services
3.108 In villages in rural areas there are a number of shops and other local services that perform an important role meeting the daily needs of people and it is important that such facilities are not lost. This approach is strongly supported by Government policy that urges local authorities to adopt a positive approach to the retention and development of local shops and services in rural locations.
3.109 The Council will sympathetically consider proposals for new shops, pubs and post offices within settlements provided it can be shown that the use is seeking to meet a local need. For the purposes of this policy, shops include both stand- alone premises and those that are associated with petrol stations, pubs and farms. A settlement can be of any size, however, proposals will need to demonstrate that they are serving a local need (usually the immediate requirements of the settlement) and this will be more difficult in the case of facilities within very small communities. Proposals for new retail and service facilities in open countryside will not be supported, except in the case of farm shops (see policy TC18 below).
3.110 Where applications propose the loss of village shops or other services, the Council will require applicants to produce evidence to substantiate the lack of viability of the use. This may include access to financial records of the business in appropriate circumstances.
TC18 Farm Shops
Development of new farm shops and the extension of existing farm shops will be permitted where:
The proposal involves the appropriate conversion of an existing rural building or the construction of a new building at the intended location and is of a scale and nature that can be satisfactorily integrated into the landscape, and
It would not have an adverse impact on existing rural shops in the local area
A condition will be applied to any permission to control the proportion of goods to be sold which are not produced locally to a maximum of 25%.
3.111 Over the years, growers have set up shops on their land to sell produce direct to the public. These outlets can provide a means of assisting the commercial success of farming operations. The role of farm shops is supported where these can assist in farm diversification projects, offer an outlet for food produced on the farm and support the local economy and provide a source of local jobs. It is important however that farm shops are controlled so that they remain a venue to buy locally produced food and do not grow to an inappropriate scale which would undermine shops and services in local villages. It is important that any associated buildings do not harm the character and appearance of the countryside and that the safety and character of local roads is not affected.
National Planning Policy Framework (Paras. 23 – 27)
Warwick District Retail & Leisure Study, 2014
Culture, Leisure and Tourism
3.112 Cultural assets such as theatres, cinemas, libraries, art galleries, museums, historic sites, places of worship and other meeting places can enrich people’s quality of life. They can also act as a magnet to attract visitors and thus form a key part of the economy. It is therefore appropriate to consider how planning can assist in culture and tourism.
3.113 The District is culturally rich and has a vibrant and active local arts community together with a confident and high profile professional arts sector. There are regular cultural festivals and sporting events. Furthermore, the attractiveness of the towns, parks and local countryside are attractions in and of themselves.
3.114 The District has many historic assets that operate as visitor attractions such as castles in Warwick and Kenilworth, Stoneleigh Abbey, the country houses of Packwood and Baddesley Clinton, the canal network, as well as the regency buildings and parks of Royal Leamington Spa. The District also has other attractions such as Hatton Country World and Stoneleigh Park, all of which generates approximately 3.1m trips a year to the area. The estimated spend is £220m and supports over 4,850 jobs. The close proximity of Stratford-upon-Avon provides a strong cross border tourism offer enabling mutual benefit for both Warwick District and Stratford-on-Avon District. In this context a joint Destination Management Plan is being developed.
3.115 The Council’s strategy sees tourism as being a key part of the local economy and this Plan should positively promote and actively deliver tourism. The District’s cultural assets and visitor facilities should therefore be supported to grow and improve in ways which maintain its attractiveness and integrity, particularly those assets associated with the historic environment. It is the objective of this Plan to enable the maintenance and improvement of leisure facilities including opportunities for culture and tourism.
CT1 Directing New Tourism, Leisure and Cultural Development
New tourism, leisure and cultural development will be permitted in the town centres in accordance with the town centre policies (policies TC1 to TC18). In all other cases, new tourism, leisure and cultural development will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:
There are no sequentially preferable sites or buildings and the development is easily accessible using sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport; or
The facility is of a type and scale that will mean it primarily serves a local community who can access it by means other than the private car
Where suitable sites are not available in town centres, sites in edge-of-centre locations will be considered and, if no suitable sites are available in any of the preferred locations, out-of-centre sites will be considered.
Where edge-of-centre or out-of-centre sites are considered, preference will be given within each category to accessible sites that are well connected with the town centre. Evidence of the impact on the town centre will be required where the proposal is above 500 sq.m gross floorspace.
3.116 In this policy, tourism, leisure and cultural (including arts) development means the main town centre uses other than retail and offices (see paragraph 1.10 of this Chapter). Culture, leisure and tourism are important in ensuring the District’s town centres are vibrant and prosperous. Increasingly, town centres are enjoyed as places where a range of leisure activities supplement the retail offer to provide a variety of offers within town centres. Town centres also provide sustainable locations for such uses as they are generally more accessible by a range of transport modes than other parts of the District. This policy therefore seeks to support the role of town centres as the primary locations for development associated with culture, leisure and tourism.
3.117 In identifying sites a sequential approach should be adopted through which all potential town centre options should be thoroughly assessed before less central sites are considered. First preference should be given to town centre locations, followed by edge of town centre. Tourism, leisure and cultural developments within rural areas should be located within the Growth Villages identified in policy H1 where they can most greatly benefit from proximity to each other and other uses. Development within or adjacent to local shopping centres or within rural areas, should be of a proportionate scale, appropriate in relation to surrounding uses, should not generate significant volumes of traffic and should not harm the character of the area.
3.118 It is recognised, some leisure and cultural facilities serve very local populations and these should, where possible, be allowed to locate close to the population they serve. Where such uses are proposed the Council will expect the applicant to demonstrate that the use meets a local need which cannot be otherwise met in a centre.
3.119 The Council will seek to support the role of Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre in culture and leisure by identifying, through the Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP), an area in and around Spencer Yard and Spencer Street for investment in culture, leisure and creative industries developments.
CT2 Directing New or Extended Visitor Accommodation
New or extended hotels will be permitted in the town centres in accordance with the town centre policies (policies TC1 to TC18) and Policy CT1.
Other new or extended visitor accommodation with urban areas, will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the development is easily accessible using sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport.
Visitor accommodation within rural areas will be permitted where it is located within the Growth Villages (as defined on the Policies Map) or is for the conversion of a rural building as defined in Policy BE4. All visitor accommodation in rural areas should be of a proportionate scale, appropriate in relation to surrounding uses, should not generate significant volumes of traffic and should not harm the character of the area.
Extensions to existing visitor accommodation in rural areas will only be permitted where these do not significantly intensify the use of the site or establish new uses which are not ancillary to the normal business of the visitor accommodation.
3.120 Hotels are defined as a town centre uses and play an important role in supporting the economic wellbeing and vibrancy of the District’s town centres. Increasingly, town centres are enjoyed as places to visit in their own right and the Town Centres of Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth offer high quality and diverse environments and leisure activities for visitors to enjoy. Appropriately located accommodation is important in supporting this role of town centres. Further, town centres provide sustainable locations which are accessible by a range of transport modes. This policy, in combination with Policy CT1, therefore seeks to support the role of town centres as the primary locations for hotels.
3.121 Other visitor accommodation should be properly directed towards urban areas where in general accessibility using sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport can more easily be demonstrated. Visitor accommodation within rural areas should be located within the Growth Villages identified in policy H1 where they can most greatly benefit from proximity to each other and other uses. Development within rural areas, should be of a proportionate scale, appropriate in relation to surrounding uses, should not generate significant volumes of traffic and should not harm the character of the area.
3.122 Any harm to the character of the rural area will be judged in relation to the appearance of the building following conversion in the context of its surrounding and the impact upon the character of surrounding roads. Any harm to sustainability objectives will be judged by the extent to which the proposal may lead to a dispersal of overall hotel bedspaces to a degree that may prejudice the viability of hotels within the urban areas, or may cause a significant increase of vehicle movements in less sustainable locations.
3.123 Extensions to visitor accommodation in rural areas: the development will be deemed to involve significant intensification where it would harm the character of the area or is no longer of a proportionate scale or appropriate in relation to surrounding uses or where the proposal would generate significant volumes of traffic.
CT3 Protecting Existing Visitor Accommodation in Town Centres
Redevelopment or change of use from visitor accommodation within the town centres will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:
the site is within a retail area as identified on the Policy Map and the proposal is for a change of use to retail or is a change of use to assembly and leisure use within a secondary retail area (see policy TC3);
there is evidence of adequate capacity to meet need within alternative accommodation within the same Town Centre; or
the accommodation is no longer viable and no other parties are willing to acquire it for that use
3.124 This policy recognises the importance of visitor accommodation in supporting Town Centres providing sustainable and vibrant communities and seeks to retain existing accommodation. Increasingly, Town Centres are enjoyed as places to visit in their own right and the Town Centres of Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth offer accommodation to enable visitor to stay overnight and prolong their stay. Further, Town Centres provide sustainable locations which are accessible by a range of transport modes. This policy therefore seeks to support the role of town centres as the primary locations for visitor accommodation.
3.125 Change of use from visitor accommodation will be permitted where it is for retail uses within the retail frontages identified on the Policies Map. In addition, a change of use from visitor accommodation may be permitted if it is demonstrated that there is adequate capacity of equivalent accommodation available elsewhere within the town centre to compensate for the loss of accommodation. To demonstrate this, applicants will be expected to undertake a capacity study of similar accommodation within the Town Centre and to show that the accommodation is no longer viable and that it has been marketed for a period of 12 months and no other operators have been willing to acquire it for continued use as visitor accommodation.
CT4 Extensions to Tourism, Cultural or Leisure Facilities in Rural Areas
Extensions to or intensification of tourism, cultural or leisure facilities in rural areas will be permitted where these do not:
establish new uses which are not ancillary to the normal business of the operation;
generate significant volumes of additional traffic; and
harm the character of the area.
3.126 For proposals to extend or intensify existing accommodation, tourism, cultural or leisure in the rural area, the test will be whether the proposal will result in the use of the site being out of keeping with its rural location through its impact on the character of the area and traffic generation.
3.127 Where the proposals seek to introduce new uses onto the site (even if these are also associated with accommodation, tourism culture or leisure), these will be assessed in accordance with relevant policies, unless it can be demonstrated that the use is ancillary to the existing operation.
CT5 Infrastructure Contributions to Meeting Places, Cultural Facilities and Public Art
New development will be required to make appropriate and proportionate financial contributions to cultural facilities where it can be demonstrated that there will otherwise be deficit of such facilities as a result of the proposed development. Contributions to new public art will be required where new development is closely related (either through proximity or through the nature of the use) to the District’s centres of cultural and art activity.
3.128 Meeting places, cultural facilities and public art are important features in sustainable communities. They engender a sense of pride and provide important facilities to bring communities together.
3.129 New development will inevitably place demands on existing public meeting places such as community halls and public cultural facilities such as theatres, concert halls and libraries. The Council will therefore expect contributions towards meeting places, cultural facilities and public art from development.
3.130 Public art is important in regeneration and building a unique sense of place. This could be incorporated within a building’s structure or could involve the creation of new architectural space, landscaping, lighting, wayfinding or street furniture, as well as what we more traditionally think of as public art
3.131 The Council’s Public Arts Strategy seeks to broaden the District’s culture and arts offer and public art of the right quality, in the right locations, can play an important part in this. Contributions will therefore be sought where new development is closely related (either through proximity or through the nature of the use) to the District’s centres of cultural and art activity.
CT6 Camping and Caravan Sites
Camping and caravan sites for holiday and recreational use will be permitted where they can be satisfactorily integrated into the landscape without detriment to its character, are in a location accessible to local facilities, and would not generate significant volumes of traffic.
Any buildings required must be essential and ancillary to the use of the land. The conversion of appropriate rural buildings will be permitted subject to compliance with other policies in this Plan. New buildings may be acceptable outside the Green Belt where it can be demonstrated that existing buildings cannot be utilised in preference and where they are of a design and scale appropriate to the area.
3.132 With a combination of its attractive countryside and major visitor attractions both within its district and nearby, the rural area will continue to see pressure for tourist and related uses.
3.133 Camping and caravan sites can provide useful low cost accommodation, however they can seriously harm the landscape if they are insensitively located or become too large.
3.134 All proposals will be expected to be unobtrusive within the landscape and be in keeping with the character of the rural area. The scale of the proposals will be an important factor as often small sites can be assimilated into the landscape more easily than larger sites. Within Green Belt areas, camping and caravan sites and associated buildings will be considered inappropriate development.
3.135 Caravanning, camping and other temporary occupancy sites also give rise to special problems in relation to flooding. The instability of caravans, places occupants at special risk and it may be difficult to operate an effective flood warning system. The development of these facilities will not be permitted in areas of high flood risk. In other flood risk areas applicants will need to prepare a flood warning and evacuation plan.
CT7 Warwick Castle and Warwick Racecourse/St Mary’s Lands
Development at Warwick Castle or Warwick Racecourse (within the boundaries defined on the Policy Map) will only be permitted where it is brought forward in line with an approved Masterplan setting out the development principles and broad areas for development, indicating the type of uses proposed and, in the case of the Castle, a Conservation Plan for the historic asset. The Masterplan will provide the framework within which planning applications will be determined and will:
identify the physical and economic context of the Castle;
identify the development principles to underpin future development proposals;
identify the significance of heritage assets within the vicinity, setting out how these will be sustained and enhanced (including listed buildings, listed parks and gardens, conservation areas and historic landscapes);
identify the location of developments, demonstrating how proposals will relate to the heritage assets and how they will enhance the positive contribution the asset makes to sustainable communities and to the character and distinctiveness of the area; and
identify how the proposals support the vitality and viability of the local economy
3.136 Warwick Castle is a nationally/internationally renowned tourist attraction bringing significant benefits to the local economy. It is a Grade 1* listed building set within Grade 1 landscaped grounds. The site includes several other Listed Buildings.
3.137 Balancing the development pressures with the sensitivity of the location is an on-going challenge. Further there are opportunities to enhance the links between the Castle and Warwick Town Centre, bringing economic benefits to the Town Centre. The challenge is to ensure development within the Castle grounds does not undermine the range of facilities and services available in the adjacent Town Centre.
3.138 In this context this policy seeks to support the role of Warwick Castle as a nationally/internationally renowned attraction at the same time as ensuring the significance of the local heritage assets (including the Castle itself) are sustained and enhanced. It is also important that the mix of activities on offer within the Castle grounds allows both the Castle and the Town Centre to play to their strengths to the mutual benefit of both.
3.139 It is therefore proposed that individual projects requiring planning permission should be brought forward within the context of a Masterplan for Warwick Castle. This will be a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment.
Warwick Racecourse and St Mary’s Lands
3.140 Warwick Racecourse and St Mary’s Lands provides an important recreation, leisure and entertainment facility. Given the role of the Racecourse and St Mary’s Lands in the local economy and community, the ongoing vitality and viability of this facility is supported. However, the Racecourse and St Mary’s Lands lies within the Warwick Conservation Area, the main stand is a Grade II Listed Building and includes an area rich in biodiversity, designated as a Potential Local Wildlife Site. This area is important in the setting of Warwick and provides open spaces close to the Town Centre which is well used and appreciated by those who live and work in the Town.
3.141 In this context, any development will need to be sensitive to the heritage assets, the setting of the town, the ongoing enjoyment of the area for recreational purposes and the need to maintain local habitats and biodiversity.
3.142 The Council will therefore work with the operators of the Racecourse to bring forward a Masterplan for the area which;
ensures the ongoing vitality and viability of the Racecourse;
protects and enhances the significance of the Listed Building and Conservation Area and their setting;
retains the land for public recreation;
protects and enhances biodiversity within the Racecourse as well as links to the open countryside and other areas; and
restricts uses to those associated with visitor accommodation, recreation, leisure and horse racing
References for Culture Leisure and Tourism
Warwick District Arts Strategy
National Planning Policy Framework
Major Sites in the Economy
3.143 The district has a number of long established major sites which have a unique and important role in the District’s economy. The Local Plan seeks to support the role that these sites play in the local economy at the same time as ensuring this is carefully balanced against the impacts of development.
Where these major sites are in the Green Belt, it is accepted that some development may be necessary where it would support the long term future of the site, securing jobs and bringing benefits to the wider economy.
MS1 University of Warwick
Development at the University of Warwick will be permitted in line with an approved Masterplan or Development Brief as agreed with the relevant local planning authorities
3.145 The Council acknowledges the important role of the University of Warwick in the local economy and as an institution of Higher Education of international importance. Founded in 1965 on land gifted by the Councils of Coventry and Warwickshire, the majority of development to date has been on the Coventry side of the boundary. The current Masterplan was approved in 2009 and the University plans to update this during the plan period to set out its future vision.
3.146 Within the District’s boundary, development has been to meet the residential needs of the university. In the past this has involved a recognition that development in the Green Belt will be necessary to allow the university to expand. The predominantly built up nature of the area currently known as Central Campus West means that this land is no longer appropriate for retention in the Green Belt. Any further development into the Green Belt proposed through any future Masterplan will need to be carefully considered as part of the long term plan for the University across the two local authority areas.
MS2: Major Sites in the Green Belt
Development at existing sites in the Green Belt will be restricted to the limited infilling and redevelopment of previously developed land and will be assessed in accordance with national planning policy.
In the case of the Former Honiley Airfield, Stoneleigh Park, and Stoneleigh Deer Park, there may be very special circumstances to justify further development (within the boundary identified on the Policies Map).
Where this can be demonstrated, proposals should be brought forward in line with an approved Masterplan or Development Brief which demonstrates that the openness and the purposes for including the land in the Green Belt is retained, and which complies with other relevant policies in this Plan.
In the case of the Former Honiley Airfield the range of uses on the site will be restricted to the automotive and motorsport industries and employment associated with these sectors.
3.147 National planning policy allows limited infilling or partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites within the Green Belt whether redundant or in continuing use which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development
3.148 However the Council recognises that the sites identified in the above policy have a unique and important role in delivering the objectives of the Strategic Economic Plan and in the local and sub regional economy. It is considered that whilst these sites fulfil an important role in maintaining the openness of the Green Belt and should be retained within it there may be very special circumstances to justify further development within the boundaries identified on the policies map. These are set out in detail below.
Former Honiley Airfield
3.149 The former military airfield has been used for a variety of aeronautical and automotive uses since the 1950s and most recently for vehicle testing and research and design associated with the automotive industry. It is unique in allowing the co-location of research and development facilities together with a test track for off road testing.
3.150 The site has planning permission for the development of an advanced engineering research and development campus for the automotive and motorsport industries including the provision of a new access and roundabout taking traffic away from the existing access on Oldwich Lane East.
3.151 The site has an important role in delivering the aims of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) in relation to the growth of advanced manufacturing particularly in the long term through the implementation of the planning permission. Funding has been agreed through the City Deal to secure the delivery of the access and traffic proposals set out in the planning permission. . Further investment is proposed through the SEP to undertake a utilities upgrade to ensure the site is attractive to companies wishing to relocate.
3.152 The Council acknowledges the site’s importance to the sub regional economy and is supportive of the approved proposals in the context of the unique role of the site. It is also recognised that the delivery of the planning permission may provide benefits to the wider community such as noise attenuation. However, it is important that redevelopment of the site is carefully managed in the context of the site’s sensitive rural location in the Green Belt. This is particularly with regard to the sites limited access to the strategic road network and potential impact of the activities on neighbouring residential communities. It is therefore unlikely than any proposals to extend the range of uses beyond that in the planning permission which are restricted to automotive and motorsport uses would be acceptable.
3.153 In addition to the permission it is recognised that some small scale development may be necessary adjacent to the test track to assist in its operations, however the Council will ensure in assessing any proposals that the openness of the Green Belt is maintained.
3.154 The boundary identified on the proposals map reflects the approved planning unit and defines the areas the Council considers is acceptable for limited development and infilling. This recognises that some of the approved development is located on woodland rather than previously developed land.
3.155 Stoneleigh Park is a unique facility within the Green Belt which is home to the headquarters of the Royal Agricultural Society for England (RASE) and a number of other agricultural and countryside organisations. The park hosts a wide range of shows and events showcasing rural activities and businesses from across the country and as such is an established part of the rural economy both locally and nationally.
3.156 A long term Masterplan for the park has been set out to develop the site as a rural innovation science park with an emphasis on sustainability, the environment, agriculture, equine activities, forestry, and rural businesses. Outline Planning Permission was granted in November 2012 for the redevelopment and reuse of buildings at Stoneleigh Park to realise this Masterplan over the next 15 year period. It is intended that the site will evolve into a national hub for rural and sustainability research and equine activities, providing the opportunity for the clustering of businesses relating to these activities.
3.157 It is recognised that the delivery of the long term plan is therefore likely to bring significant economic benefits for the local area. The Council supports the unique role of the Park and the delivery of the Masterplan to secure its long term future. A wider range of uses have been permitted on the site than previously allowed to assist this.
3.158 It is accepted that there may be a need to revisit this Masterplan in the future during the plan period. It is important that future development is carefully planned and guided in the context of the Parks sensitive location in the Green Belt, adjacent to two Listed Historic Parks, and its relationship to the village of Stoneleigh. The land at Stoneleigh Park continues to fulfil an important function in maintaining the openness of the Green Belt. Therefore any future updates to the Masterplan will need to be assessed in terms of the proposed intensity of development and mix of uses.
3.159 It is recognised that some of the land proposed for development through the Masterplan does not fall under the definition of previously developed land. This policy therefore defines the boundary, in line with the planning permission, which reflects the area the Council believes is appropriate for redevelopment of the Park.
3.160 It is recognised that the need to safeguard land for HS2 (policy NE6) may impact on the delivery of the Masterplan.
Stoneleigh Business Park
3.161 Now the site of Abbey Business Park it has been used for a range of uses over the years including a Military hospital during the Second World War. It lies within Stoneleigh Deer Park which is designated as a Grade II Historic Park.
3.162 Since outline planning permission was granted for an office Masterplan in 2002 the site has been subject to phased redevelopment which has included the development of a new headquarters facility for the British Horse Society. A revised Masterplan has recently been granted permission to include demolition of the remaining World War II hospital huts for new office space.
3.163 The redevelopment of the site has been carefully managed in the context of the historic parkland setting and it continues to fulfil an important role in the Green Belt. The Council supports the continued use of the site but considers that development beyond that approved is unlikely to be appropriate.
Other Major Sites in the Green Belt
3.164 Development at other major sites will be restricted to limited infilling and redevelopment of previously developed land and will be assessed in accordance with national planning policy.
National Planning Policy Framework