Publication: Pre-Submission Gloucester City Plan

Pre-Submission City Plan

Policy C3: Public open space, playing fields and sports facilities


Existing public open spaces, playing fields and built sports facilities will be protected from redevelopment to alternative uses, in whole or in part, unless it can be demonstrated that:

  1. There is an excess of provision in the local area, there is no current or planned future demand for such provision and that there would be no overall shortfall; or
  2. The open space, playing field or facility can be replaced by alternative provision of an equivalent or better quality and quantity in an accessible and appropriate location to the community where the loss would occur; or
  3. The proposal is ancillary development that would enhance existing facilities and not reduce or prejudice its ongoing use; or
  4. The proposal affects land that is not suitable, or incapable, of forming an effective part of the open space, playing field or facility and its loss would not prejudice the ongoing use of the remainder of the site for that purpose.

The need for new open space and playing fields within new development will be determined in accordance with the aims and recommendations of the City Council's Open Space Strategy and Playing Pitch Strategy.

Development proposals to enhance or provide new open spaces, playing fields or built sports facilities will be supported where they deliver the aims and recommendations of the Council's Open Space Strategy, Playing Pitch Strategy and Built Sports Facilities Strategy, or any future iterations.

3.3.14 Gloucester is a small urban authority with an increasing population, increasing participation in sports and physical activity and finite land supply. This will further increase with population growth through the delivery of new homes. The Council's Open Space Strategy, Playing Pitch Strategy and Built Sports Facilities Strategy identify the need to:

  • Protect existing site from alternative uses;
  • Make the best use of existing spaces and facilities should be made through improving quality and facilities to provide for the needs of communities and;
  • Where possible, require new provision through new development to provide for the needs of new residents.

3.3.15 At the same time, evidence shows that Gloucester has higher levels of inactivity than the national and regional averages (Sport England Active Lives 2017 - 2018) and, unsurprisingly, higher levels of health issues as a result. There is an opportunity within the city therefore to increase participation in formal sports and physical activity more generally.

3.3.16 Policy INF4 of the Joint Core Strategy sets out that where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for community facilities, including open space, it should be met as on-site provision and/or as a contribution to facilities or services off-site. In satisfying this requirement, applicants should have regard to the aims if recommendations of the strategies identified in the paragraph above. Normally, new on-site open space will be expected on sites of 35 homes or greater.

3.3.17 To achieve this, the site allocations within this plan identify specific opportunities for new provision where there is a shortfall in quantity, quality and accessibility, namely;

  • Land rear of St Oswalds Retail Park;
  • Land at Great Western Road Sidings; and
  • Land at The Wheatridge (should it come forward for residential development)

3.3.18 Furthermore, site allocation SA06 allocates land at 'Blackbridge' in Podsmead for a sports and community hub. This forms a key part of the Council's Playing Pitch Strategy, which seeks the delivery of two multi-functional sports hubs in Gloucester; one in the north and one in the south of the city. The northern hub, located at Oxstalls Sports Park and the University of Gloucestershire, was complete in 2018.

3.3.19 The location and extent of open spaces and playing fields is identified on the policies map. Where new development delivers additional open spaces and playing fields that aren't shown on the policies map, these will be afforded the same level of protection. In terms of protecting against the loss of built sports facilities, for the avoidance of doubt, these include sports halls, swimming pools, squash courts, the athletics track, indoor bowls and indoor tennis. It also includes village, community and parish halls, albeit they have a wider function within the community.

3.3.20 Where new development affects land currently or previously used as a playing field (within the last five years), Sport England will be consulted as statutory consultee and the applicant will be required to demonstrate compliance with their exception tests.