Core Strategy Issues & Options
9.THEME 5: INFRASTRUCTURE AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES
9.1 How to ensure that the necessary physical infrastructure and facilities are available to support sustainable communities and to achieve more sustainable development, including:
- ensuring adequate water supply
- planning for surface water and foul drainage
- managing waste
- providing high standards of education and healthcare
- providing for local shopping needs
- providing sufficient and effective recreation and other community facilities
9.2 'Infrastructure' and facilities are taken to include water supply, surface and foul water drainage, education provision, public open space, leisure and cultural facilities, health care, community buildings, including village halls, waste disposal and recycling facilities. Transport infrastructure is dealt with separately under Theme 3.
9.3 Southern Water and South East Water, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, are the companies mainly responsible for water supply in different parts of the district, including the development of new strategic water resources, particularly reservoirs. Foul and surface water drainage are primarily the responsibility of Southern Water.
9.4 The District Council is responsible for waste collection, and the County Council for waste disposal and waste planning.
9.5 The Waste Local Plan was adopted earlier this year. It can be viewed at www.eastsussex.gov.uk and at Council offices .
9.6 As well as having regard to the location of planned waste facilities, the Waste Local Plan and related guidance have implications for planning of new developments in terms of minimising construction waste and need for recycling facilities.
9.7 In terms of education, there are proposals to replace the two existing primary schools at Rye with one new facility, for a second primary school for Battle, and a replacement primary school at Etchingham. It is also proposed to complete the relocation of the High School at Bexhill from The Down to the site at Gunters Lane.
9.8 Access to 16+ education locally has recently seen Rye lose its sixth form, while proposals for a sixth form college at Battle are not now being progressed.
9.9 The Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust is responsible for general health care within Rother District. The East Sussex Hospitals Trust is responsible for the acute side. A consultation on proposals for the future structure of the Conquest Hospital and the Eastbourne District General Hospital, is due to commence in November 2006.
9.10 Shopping is focussed within the main shopping areas of Bexhill, Battle and Rye town centres. There is a Local Plan commitment to increasing retail provision in Bexhill town centre. Outside of town centres and district centres, a qualitative and quantitative need must normally be demonstrated before new shops are allowed.
9.11 A Local Plan policy seeks to prevent the loss of shops that provide a vital service to a local community.
9.12 The Council has this year published its Culture and Leisure Strategy 2006-11.
9.13 There are Local Plan policies to protect open space, sports and recreational buildings and land from being built upon, and secure provision of, or contributions to, improved local recreation or play facilities in most circumstances.
9.14 The Council is about to carry out an Open Space, Sports and Recreation Needs Audit and Assessment. The findings will be used to clarify local needs as well as inform a comprehensive Play Strategy and a Green Space Strategy.
9.15 It is intended that the Core Strategy will continue to give strong support for new and improved facilities that support community life. It can do this by allocating land for the purpose, including them as part of new developments and securing contributions towards them from developers.
9.16 The key is having robust evidence of need. It is envisaged that this may come from Parish Action Plans as well as from specific studies for shopping and open space.
9.17 As regards new development, the essential principle is that it will only be permitted where infrastructure and the facilities required to service the development are available or will be provided.
9.18 The draft South East Plan includes a policy for strategic water resources development. New resource options that may be required include the enlargement of Bewl reservoir by 2014/15. A scheme for the enlargement of Darwell reservoir may also be required. It is expected that this situation will be clarified shortly. Specific proposals for new water resource schemes must have reviewed options and their environmental impacts, including higher water efficiency in new and existing properties.
9.19 Storm and foul water systems can be made more compatible with the environment, in particular by the use of 'sustainable drainage systems' that reduce run-off rates. This may be pursued as part of the Environment Agency's campaign to "make room for water".
9.20 A Municipal Waste Management Strategy is currently in preparation by a partnership of the East Sussex County Council and the District and Borough Councils within East Sussex. This is a long-term strategy to manage the county's household waste and will need to be integrated with development policies.
9.21 Discussions with the County Council, as local education authority, will further consider any threats to keeping open primary schools in the light of falling pupil numbers.
9.22 Similarly, it will be necessary for the Council to seek to influence decisions affecting healthcare for Rother residents through participating in consultations.
9.23 The outcomes of retail studies will help determine further shopping provision. The aim will be to strengthen the role of Rother's town centres in the face of competition from other centres, including out-of-town.
9.24 For the provision of open space, sports and recreation facilities, the Council will be guided by the outcome of the forthcoming Audit and Assessment, together with the Council's Cultural and Leisure Strategy. The concept of a network of green spaces providing linked leisure opportunities may be appropriate for towns in particular.
9.25 Pebsham Countryside Park is the most significant current open space commitment. There is also expected to be a need to provide new leisure centres in Bexhill and Battle within the plan period. Consideration should be given to the location and nature of these.
9.26 A presumption of retaining community buildings may be necessary as the delivery of services is reviewed. The Council can continue investing in, as well as planning for, improvements to village and community halls and rural shops/post offices. There may be complementary efforts by relevant bodies to support critical services to foster social networks, e.g. mother and toddler groups or senior citizens groups.
9.27 For both recreation and other community facilities, there is the possibility of extending current requirements for developer contributions to achieve a better level of services and facilities. However, developers can only legitimately, and financially, be asked to contribute so much to community infrastructure. Priorities may need to be identified.
9.28 There are particular questions about how best to provide the infrastructure and facilities in the rural areas. Thresholds for commercial services tend to be increasing, emphasising economies of scale. However, the presence of basic services in smaller settlements can be vital to community life as well as reducing the need to travel. The Core Strategy will need to look at how best to provide the facilities needed to serve towns, neighbourhoods and rural areas.