8. Recreation, Sport and Tourism


This chapter deals with policies and proposals concerning the development or use of land for recreation, sports activities and tourist related developments. These are important topics, given that people generally have increasing amounts of leisure time, and are increasingly demanding access to a wider range of better quality facilities. The Council will aim to ensure that the on-going development of the District includes adequate recreational facilities to meet the community’s needs, and that the benefits of tourism are maximised.


The Chapter’s policies seek to:

  • Ensure that existing rights of way, open spaces and other land with recreational value are not lost to new development;
  • Encourage the provision of additional open space, recreational facilities, and access to the countryside; and
  • Promote the development of the tourism industry.

The Chapter’s policies will contribute to all three of the Council’s objectives:

  • A good quality of life for all residents - Participation in sport and recreational activities can help improve health, quality of life and sense of well being, and the provision of easily accessible facilities can help to ensure that these benefits can be enjoyed by all sections of the community.
  • A thriving and prosperous economy - The development of the District’s recreational and tourism potential will increase visitor numbers, with obvious economic benefits. The availability of adequate play and sporting facilities is also a positive factor in encouraging inward-investment.
  • A clean, green and safe environment – Play and sports space contributes greatly to the character of settlements. The availability of local facilities for sport and recreation can reduce both the need to travel and distances travelled.

POLICY RST1 - Protecting existing recreational open space and built sports facilities View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for development on an existing recreational open space, or built sports facility only if:

  1. The proposal would enhance or improve the recreational use of the site;
  2. A replacement recreational site of equivalent or better facilities has been or shall be provided elsewhere in the area, (the replacement site would have to be equally accessible to the communities it serves);
  3.  Redevelopment of part of an existing site would protect and enhance the recreational value of the remainder; or
  4. The applicant can demonstrate that there is evidence that there is no current need, nor any predicted future need for the facility.



It is important to protect land used for leisure and recreational purposes to ensure that adequate local provision remains available for residents. With increased leisure time, demand in the leisure sector has increased, and active participation in sport and recreational activities is beneficial to the health of local residents. Recreational areas also contribute to the character of settlements (providing undeveloped space within their built-up areas).


Proposals for development on existing recreational sites will be permitted in the following circumstances:

  • Where a proposal will enhance the recreational use or enjoyment of the site, e.g. a proposal to develop facilities such as changing rooms or shower blocks on an existing playing field.
  • Where a replacement recreational site has been provided, or is to be provided as part of a Section 106 Obligation. The replacement site would have to be equally accessible to the community it serves and would have to be of equal or better quality than the site lost to development.
  • Where the Council is satisfied that the existing provision will be best retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site; or
  • Where the applicant can demonstrate that there is no longer a need for the recreational facility either now or in the future. In this context, the Council considers that (in accordance with the National Playing Field Association’s ‘6 acre standard’), to meet the community’s need for recreational open space:
    • At least 1.6 hectares of land per thousand people is required for outdoor sport (pitches, greens, courts, athletic tracks, etc.); and
    • At least 0.8 hectares of land per thousand people is required for children’s play (both formal playgrounds designed to provide focussed opportunities for outdoor play, and informal or casual play spaces within housing areas).

In a few settlements, considerably more recreational open space is available than would be required by the application of the above standards (for example if a small village has a large playing field). However, the majority of settlements do not offer their residents recreational open space at the minimum standards desirable. This dichotomy is to be expected in a predominantly rural District, with a dispersed settlement pattern, where the residents of one settlement without play or sports space may use that provided in another nearby settlement. Thus, in applying standards at a local level, it is important that proper account is taken of the ways in which the community accesses the play and sports space it needs. Taking the District as a whole, the land available for children’s play space just meets the minimum required, but space available for outdoor sport falls 11 hectares short of that required.


Certain leisure uses have a wider catchment than the local area and can be considered in some cases to be appropriate uses for a town centre. The Council considers that in such cases these uses would fall into the category of intensive sport and recreation uses and as such would be required to meet the policy requirements of Policy R1.

POLICY RST2 - Protection of existing public rights of way View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will not be granted for proposals that will adversely affect an existing public right of way.



The existing network of public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways and byways) within settlements and within the countryside, is a vital asset. These public rights of way link settlements with the surrounding countryside, and provide opportunities for the community to take part in many popular informal recreational pursuits – walking, cycling and horse-riding – and allow people to enjoy the District’s countryside. Consequently, the Council will not grant planning permission for a development that will lead to the loss of an existing public right of way, or that will make an existing public right of way less attractive or convenient for users. The Council will seek to improve and enhance accessibility for people with disabilities to existing public rights of way, and to provide access to all new rights of way.

POLICY RST3 - Local recreational facilities View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for the development of new recreational open space or indoor sports facilities within, or outside but well-related to, the curtilage of any settlement (as shown on the Proposals Map), provided that the development will serve the recreational needs of the immediate area only.



The justification to Policy RST1 indicates that, taking the District as a whole, land available for children’s play space is only just adequate to meet the community’s needs; and land available for outdoor sport falls short of that required. Furthermore, these overall figures hide the fact that, in many individual settlements, the availability of play or sports space falls well short of that required to meet the local community’s needs. In addition, there is the potential for participation in sport to be increased by the development of indoor facilities - which can provide opportunities to participate in a wider range of activities, and which allow for more intensive use.


The Council will generally welcome proposals that will lead to the provision of new children’s play space (formal or casual), outdoor sports space (pitches, greens, courts, athletics tracks, etc.), or indoor sports or play facilities. As a consequence, planning permission will be granted for such developments within settlements’ curtilages, or in locations within the countryside, provided that the development would not create a visual intrusion into the countryside, would not appear unrelated to the settlement, and would not be so far from the settlement it will serve that it could not be conveniently accessed by the people who will use it. Furthermore, in considering such proposals the Council will be concerned to ensure that the nature and scale of the proposed development is appropriate for the settlement concerned. For example, the development of a new bowling green, tennis court or other sports pitch might be appropriate in a small, isolated, rural settlement, in that it would serve the needs of the residents of the village itself and perhaps those of other nearby settlements. However, the development of a major sports facility (such as a bowling alley) would not be appropriate in such a settlement, in that it would attract users from a significant hinterland. A facility of this sort would be better sited in a larger settlement (conforming with the Plan’s objective to reduce people’s need to travel) and where opportunities for all sections of the community to access the facility will be greatest (where it is most likely to be accessible on foot, and by bicycle or public transport). Policy R1 deals with developments of this sort.


In considering proposals for new recreational open space or indoor sports facilities, the Council will also take account of the provisions of the Local Plan’s other policies, as appropriate. The Core Policies, and the policies of the Transport, Landscape and Wildlife, and Historic Environment chapters will be of particular relevance.

Sport and recreation in the countryside


The District’s countryside is its greatest recreational asset, with a network of rights of ways giving access for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. Policy RST2 seeks to ensure that existing rights of way are not unnecessarily extinguished, but it is equally important that all opportunities are taken to extend the community’s opportunities to enjoy informal access to the countryside. Policy RST4 deals with these issues.


In accordance with the Local Plan’s locational strategy, the Council will wish to see most formal sport and recreational land uses located within or adjacent to existing settlements. However, the Council acknowledges that some activities need a countryside location, because of the amount of land they require or because of the nature of the activity. In general, proposals for sport and recreational developments in the countryside will be judged against the provisions of policy C2, but Policies RST5 and RST6 deal with the particular issues that arise with some specific countryside recreational and sporting activities. [It should also be noted that proposals for development involving horses are dealt with under policy DC8].

POLICY RST4 - Public access to the countryside View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for proposals that will increase public access to the countryside.



Many people enjoy informal recreational pursuits in North Kesteven’s countryside (walking, cycling or horse-riding, for example). However the amount of land that is publicly accessible is limited and the network of footpaths, bridleways and byways is somewhat restricted, particularly in eastern parts of the District. Proposals that will increase access routes, in line with the Lincoln Greenways Strategy, will be welcomed.


Consequently, the Council will welcome proposals that will allow the public to have greater access to the countryside for informal recreation. In considering applications for development in the countryside, the Council will (where appropriate) seek to negotiate with applicants for the provision of public access to suitable areas of land, designed to meet the needs of disabled access, wherever practicable.

POLICY RST5 - Golf courses View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for the development of a golf course, provided that:

  1. New buildings are kept to the minimum necessary for the functioning of the golf course, and are designed and located to minimise their visual impact; and
  2. The proposed development will not make it impractical to return the land to its former agricultural quality in the future.



As golf courses require large areas of land they will usually require a countryside location. However, they will inevitably attract many visitors, and proposals that will result in traffic generation on unsuitable rural roads will not be permitted. Furthermore, it is preferable if golf courses are located where they will be accessible by a range of transport modes. In considering such accessibility issues, the Council will be mindful of the fact that the District is predominantly rural, that its population is dispersed, and that opportunities for people to travel by means other than the private car can be limited. Consequently, all judgements of whether a location is relatively accessible or not will be made in the context of the overall levels of accessibility throughout the District.


As a consequence of the large amounts of land required and the fact that they will normally involve extensive earth movements, tree planting, etc., golf courses can have substantial effects on the character of the countryside – potentially affecting landscape, wildlife, and historical assets. Applicants must submit an assessment of their development’s likely impacts with their planning application. In all cases, assessments of landscape and wildlife impacts will be needed but, where a site will also affect a listed building, archaeological deposits, etc., these issues will also need to be addressed. Applicants will need to show that the design of their proposal has been informed by the findings of their assessment and that the design has been drawn up to protect the quality and diversity of landscape, wildlife and historical assets and, wherever possible, to enhance them.


In order to minimise visual intrusion into the countryside, built development should be kept to the minimum, and the reuse of existing rural buildings will generally be preferred. Only buildings that are essential to the function of a golf course will be permitted. The development of ancillary facilities such as hotels and health spas will not normally be permitted, in accordance with other policies of the Plan. Any new buildings must be designed and located to minimise visual intrusion and respect the rural character of the area.


The design of a challenging golf course requires the establishment of bunkers and water hazards, and it is important that such features are designed to be in keeping with the natural landscape character of the area. However, if land that has been subject to earth movements of this sort were to be considered for a return to agricultural use, its agricultural quality could be compromised. The Council will wish to avoid any development that will unnecessarily reduce flexibility to return land to agricultural production.


Golf driving ranges may be acceptable in the countryside as a subsidiary to a full golf course proposal. However, a golf driving range will not normally be permitted by itself, unless it is located on the edge of a suitable settlement. Golf driving ranges are building-dominated facilities, with more intensive use than a golf course, and they attract larger numbers of visitors. They do not require extensive land area and are therefore best suited to edge of settlement locations.

POLICY RST6 - Noisy sports View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for the development of noisy sports or recreation activities only if the proposal would not increase background noise levels to an unacceptable degree. A noise impact assessment will be required with the submission of a planning application.



Recreational activities that generate unusual levels of noise (e.g. motor sports, pistol and rifle ranges, target and clay pigeon shooting or war games) will generally be inappropriate within settlements, where they would be very likely to have unsatisfactory effects on neighbouring land users. They also require considerable amounts of land. On both these counts, therefore, such developments may be considered more appropriate in a countryside location. However, even in the countryside, such uses can have significant impacts and this policy is intended to apply adequate control over such uses, in particular to provide adequate protection for surrounding land users.


Applicants must submit a noise impact assessment with their planning application, providing information on existing noise levels, the additional noise that will be generated by their proposal, and the impact that their proposal will have on other nearby noise-sensitive land uses. If an area is already subject to significant noise, or if a site’s topography will tend to effectively contain the noise generated by the proposed use, it is possible that a proposal may generate very little additional noise. However, in many cases, a proposal to establish a noisy sport or recreational activity would generate additional noise at a level that would unacceptably interfere with other nearby land uses, or would undermine the character of the countryside. In such cases, planning permission will not be granted unless the proposal includes noise attenuation measures that will limit the increase in noise levels to acceptable levels.


Where appropriate, conditions may be applied to control such things as the hours of operation, or to limit the number of people, vehicles, etc. taking part in the activity at any one time. Where appropriate, the Council may also consider granting planning permission initially for a limited period only, to assess the impact of the use for a trial period.



North Kesteven provides some 7% of Lincolnshire’s holiday accommodation establishments, and tourism is an important economic asset that brings significant employment opportunities and income to the District. In 1999 tourists spent 732,000 nights in the District, and there were 1,635,000 tourism day visits. These visitors spent an estimated £20.5 million, generating 1,278 full time equivalent jobs.


As a consequence of the importance of tourism to North Kesteven’s economy, the Council will generally welcome proposals that will broaden the range of attractions, or will provide additional tourist accommodation. In considering such proposals, the Council will take account of the provisions of the Local Plan’s other policies, as appropriate. The policies that follow seek to maximise the tourism potential of the River Slea Navigation, and deal with the particular issues that arise from proposals to develop caravan and camping sites.

POLICY RST7 - River Slea Navigation Corridor View Map of this site ?

The River Slea Navigation Corridor (as shown on the Proposals Map) will be safeguarded from development which would prevent restoration of the canal to a navigable state, or adversely affect public access.



The River Slea Navigation was completed in 1794 and is a 13-mile long, non-tidal waterway, with seven locks. Presently only the 8 ½ mile stretch from Chapel Hill to Cobblers Lock, Anwick is navigable by pleasure craft, but the whole length of the Corridor is navigable by canoe and the full length is laid out with a towpath giving access to the whole of the Corridor to walkers.


The Navigation Corridor has great potential as a tourism and recreational facility and the Sleaford Navigation Trust, in conjunction with the Lincolnshire Waterways Project are working towards its full restoration. Restoration would enable pleasure craft to continue up to Sleaford, further promoting the town as a tourist destination.


This policy seeks to ensure that development likely to hinder future restoration work will not be permitted, e.g. the development of a bridge across the canal, which would not give enough headroom for boats to pass freely. Furthermore, this policy seeks to maintain and improve public access to one of the District’s major recreational and tourism assets.

POLICY RST8 - Holiday caravan and camping sites View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for the development of a holiday caravan or camping site provided that:

  1. The traffic generated by the proposal can be safely accommodated on the local highway network;
  2. Ancillary buildings are limited to those needed to service the site; and
  3. Any necessary built facilities will be provided by the re-use of existing buildings; or
  4. Where the re-use of existing buildings is not feasible, new buildings are located and designed to minimise their impact upon the character or appearance of their surroundings.



Camping sites, and sites for holiday caravans (whether static or touring) provide important variety to the District’s tourist accommodation, and the development of new sites is generally to be welcomed. This policy is intended to guide the development of new sites and extensions to existing sites as well as the intensified use of existing sites.


Although, in principle, caravan and camping sites are welcomed, they can have a major impact upon the character or appearance of their surroundings - caravans can be brightly coloured with a reflective finish, while many tents also come in bright colours. Consequently, great care must be taken in selecting the location for a site, and sensitive locations, or visually prominent locations will seldom be appropriate. Sites with existing natural screening will be most appropriate since, although proposals may be accompanied by a landscaping scheme, screening effects may take some time to develop.


Proposed sites should also be selected to ensure that the local highway network will not be overloaded by the volume or nature of the traffic generated. Consequently, sites should generally be selected to avoid routing caravans along narrow rural lanes.


Built development must be restricted to the minimum needed for the functioning of the site - facilities such as toilets or shower blocks would be expected to accompany most proposals, but the development of shops, entertainment facilities or leisure suites are unlikely to receive planning permission. In order to minimise the visual impact of proposals, the re-use of existing buildings will be preferred and, where this is not possible, new buildings must be of a scale suitable to the location, with their design and materials being sensitive to the local character of the area.


It should be noted that some types of touring caravan sites do not require planning permission.

  • Certificated sites - those with 5 or less caravans, which are granted a certificate by an exempted organisation. These sites are exempt from planning control, although the Council is usually consulted. The District Council will generally support proposals for certificated sites where they are carefully sited and do not adversely affect the surrounding landscape, since they add to the diversity of provision of tourist accommodation.
  • Other sites with permitted development rights include the use of a single caravan for no more than 28 days per year, or three caravans on sites of over 5 acres.

  >> 7. Transport  /  >> 9. Development in the Countryside


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