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You are here: London Borough of Bromley > Interactive Unitary Development Plan > Written Statement - 9. RECREATION, LEISURE AND TOURISM




  1. To improve indoor and outdoor recreation and leisure facilities in the Borough and to locate new major indoor facilities in areas well served by public transport
  2. To safeguard existing tourist-related development and encourage the provision of new facilities in appropriate locations well served by public transport
  3. To maintain, promote and enhance public access for enjoyment of the Borough’s open land
  4. To maintain and enhance the role of Crystal Palace Park as a principal strategic park for south-east London and to recognise its value as open parkland and as an important cultural, recreational and sporting asset.

9.1 A wide range of facilities for recreation and leisure is enjoyed by Bromley residents and visitors alike. The abundance of open spaces and countryside offering scope for rural pursuits and pastimes, as well as outdoor sport, is a major asset. Sports pitches provided in parks and public open spaces are complemented by those on private sports grounds and school playing fields. As well as helping to meet the sporting and recreational requirements of Borough residents, these facilities are part of the regional provision in London, serving the needs of other boroughs where facilities are scarce.

9.2 Trends towards more flexible working hours, increased disposable income and earlier retirement, indicate that the demand for recreational facilities will increase. The growth in participation in health-related activities and family sports pursuits means that the provision of recreational facilities should be within easy reach of built-up areas. The consequence of these changes in recreational needs is to place greater demands upon existing leisure facilities in the Borough and pressure for new sites.

9.3 Tourism plays an increasingly important role in the economy of London. The pressure of visitors in central London has led to moves to decentralise tourism to outer boroughs. This can be beneficial for the local economy by creating jobs and generating consumer spending locally, and attracting investment into the Borough. Although demand for hotels fluctuates, new hotels would serve both the local community as well as providing tourist accommodation.


9.4 PPG17 promotes the need for sustainable patterns of leisure activity. The protection of existing sport, open space and recreation facilities, identified by assessment of needs and audit, is given clear priority. Most open spaces and recreational facilities have a potential to perform multiple functions, and a role to play in promoting health and well-being. Playing fields, in particular, whether in public or private ownership should be safeguarded for their recreational and amenity value and their contribution to the green spaces in the urban environment. The creation of new facilities, especially those of an intensive nature, should be located in highly accessible locations in or adjacent to town centres, or in areas well served by public transport. Green field sites for built development should generally be avoided.

9.5 The London Plan recognises that London needs to develop a wide range of high quality but affordable sports facilities, which are accessible to all sections of the community. Boroughs are asked to produce audits of existing provision and assessment of sporting needs, as well as open space strategies in consultation with local communities. There is also a commitment to improve the quality, variety and distribution of visitor accommodation and facilities across London.

9.6 PPG21 outlines the economic significance of tourism and the need to consider ways in which new development can help the industry grow. The London Plan also notes that tourism provides employment opportunities and quality of life benefits for London’s communities. The identification of capacity for new hotels is encouraged in town centres with good transport access to central London and the development of new tourist attractions which complement wider regeneration and town centre renewal policies.

9.7 PPS6 sets out a ‘sequential approach’ to selecting sites for uses that contribute to the vitality and viability of town centres. This approach is applicable for developments for recreation, leisure, entertainment and tourist facilities that attract significant numbers of people. Provision should, however, take account of general planning objectives for the area and have particular regard to environmental considerations.


9.8 The Council recognises the role that leisure, recreation and the arts can play in the life of the Borough. Among the Council’s key aims, as set out in ‘Building a Better Bromley 2005/08’, is the requirement to sustain and further enhance the arts, sports, play and childcare programmes. In so doing, the Council will draw on its own strategies for parks, sport and the arts, and will work with partners and funding agencies to promote major improvements in Crystal Palace Park (including the National Sports Centre), at the Churchill Theatre, and in libraries, sports and parks.

9.9 Parks and open space are important environmental assets that contribute to the local quality of life. The protection and enhancement of the existing stock of open space wherever possible will be augmented by the provision of new open space through the development process in areas where there are deficiencies, in areas suffering from social exclusion, and in areas identified for regeneration. The control of development in the Green Belt and other open spaces is closely linked with the provision of facilities for open-air leisure and recreation.



A proposal for outdoor recreational uses on land designated as Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) or Green Chain will be permitted provided that:

(i) within Green Belt or MOL the proposal constitutes appropriate development or use of land, as defined in Policy G1 and Policy G2;
(ii) within the Green Belt the proposal will provide better access to the countryside;
(iii) the activities ancillary to the use or development proposed are small scale and do not adversely affect either the character or function of the designated areas; and
(iv) it is accessible by a choice of means of transport.

9.10 Both the Green Belt and MOL are a significant resource for meeting informal, low-key outdoor recreational needs. This is particularly so on the urban fringe, where such facilities are more accessible to the urban population. It is desirable, therefore, to prevent any loss of existing or potential recreational land, while ensuring that recreational activity does not threaten the other qualities and functions of MOL and Green Belt.

9.11 In rural areas, the levelling of land to form pitches can disrupt the visual continuity of the landscape. Golf courses in particular have a significant effect on the rural landscape and stringent environmental safeguards, such as control of herbicides and pesticides, are needed if the qualities of the countryside are not to be eroded. It is important that the land concerned can revert to agricultural use should the need arise. Proposals for golf courses should comply with the criteria in Supplementary Planning Guidance.

9.12 When considering proposals on sites in areas designated for their archaeological, landscape and nature conservation interest, the Council will resist proposals that adversely affect those interests. Where buildings associated with outdoor recreational activities are proposed, special consideration will be given to their visual impact, associated landscaping and the location and screening of parking areas.

See also: Policies NE5, NE9, BE15 and BE16




Planning permission will not be granted for development affecting a Public Right of Way unless the proposals include either the retention or diversion of the Right of Way such that, as a route, it is no less attractive, safe or convenient for public use. The same principle will apply to all other requests for changes to the Rights of Way network.

Where appropriate additional routes to create links to Access Land, between open spaces and between established walks or for improvements or maintenance to existing walks will be sought through the use of conditions or planning obligations

9.13 A well maintained, promoted and signposted network of footpaths, bridleways and byways, both through the urban and rural areas, enables people to pursue different forms of recreation and to gain access to open space and to the countryside. Through the provision of permissive routes for walkers and horse riders, the borough network of paths and bridleways can, where possible, be further extended and, through positive countryside management, be further improved. Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, proposed Access Land, over which people will have a right to walk, has been mapped. New Access Land will usually mean open country (downland in Bromley) and registered common land.

9.14 The promotion of circular walks encourages greater use of the Green Belt and may serve to direct the public away from areas which are already under pressure through over use. The Council will continue to support the South East London Green Chain Walk, as well as longer-distance strategic routes promoted by the London Walking Forum. Those parts of the Capital Ring, the London Loop and Waterlink Way, which pass through the Borough, are shown on the Proposals Map.

See also: Policies G7 and T7




Stable blocks, loose boxes and other essential buildings and associated works connected with equestrian activities will generally only be permitted if:

(i) the siting, scale, form and materials of such developments would not have any adverse visual impact on the open or rural character of the Green Belt or areas of Metropolitan Open Land;
(ii) such developments would not result in any detriment to the amenities enjoyed by the occupants of any adjoining residential properties;
(iii) they are, wherever possible, sited close to any existing built development on the site;
(iv) they are suitably sited in relation to their surroundings;
(v) they are adequately screened;
(vi) the proposal will not adversely affect areas which are of importance for nature conservation; and
(vii) the proposal will not result in an unacceptable intensification of horse-related activities.


Where several land holdings containing equestrian activities exist in close proximity or where new or replacement buildings are proposed, the Council will encourage joint applications which incorporate rides through the land involved and a communal jumping area, if required, subject to other policies of the Plan.

9.15 The Council recognises the increasing demand for horse riding and the keeping of horses as a pastime and that the associated buildings and uses can be an integral part of the rural environment. The popularity of this activity, however, has given rise to a number of problems. The location, standard and intensity of buildings required in connection with equestrian activity threatens to spoil the appearance and the character of the Green Belt and other open areas. Other problems include untidy jumping areas, over-intensive grazing and riding on footpaths, all of which the Council wishes to discourage in order to safeguard other uses of the countryside and to prevent the landscape becoming unsightly. Conditions will be imposed where appropriate to control the storage and removal of horse-related waste. Encouragement for schemes which amalgamate facilities on adjoining land in different ownerships should help to minimise visual intrusion and result in a better design and layout.

9.16 Applications for stables or loose boxes will only be considered acceptable if there remains a commensurately large area of associated open land adjacent, for the grazing of horses. In this regard, the Council will require the designated paddock land to remain in the same ownership as, or under the control of, the operator of the stables and should be a minimum ratio of 0.4 ha per horse. The British Horse Society’s recommended standard of 0.4ha per horse is considered to be a minimum requirement for grazing horses. Where the proposed stables or loose boxes are within the curtilage of an existing livery stable or riding school, the number of horses kept and exercised in the locality, the intensity of use of local bridleways and the effects on the surrounding countryside of horse-related activities will be taken into account.



Proposals for war games and similar uses will be refused, unless all of the following criteria are met and can be controlled by condition:

(i) the Council is satisfied that the proposal will not generate an unacceptable level of noise in the locality and that no explosive or similar devices will be used;
(ii) all games will be played within an area defined by a buffer zone of at least 50m to the boundaries of the site and public rights of way, depending on the nature of the equipment used;
(iii) no permanent buildings will be placed on the land; any temporary structures must be sited to minimise the impact on the countryside and removed at the cessation of the war game use;
(iv) a satisfactory means of access can be provided and the existing highway network is adequate to serve the use; and
(v) the activity in general and car parking does not adversely affect the countryside, nature conservation or landscape, or residential amenities of adjoining occupiers.

9.17 This policy applies to war games, clay pigeon shooting, model aircraft flying, motorcycle scrambling and other similar potentially noisy uses. In all cases, conditions will be attached to any consent limiting the hours and frequency of use, the number of participants, the provision of signing and fencing of boundaries. Normally the Council will only be prepared to grant a temporary planning permission so that the environmental impact can be fully assessed. Planning permission will not be granted where the activities would impinge upon areas designated for their nature conservation, archaeological, or landscape interest.

See also: Policies NE3, NE5, NE6, NE7, NE9, BE15 and BE16




The loss of sports grounds or playing fields will not be permitted, except where the Council’s assessment of open space provision has revealed a surplus of playing fields. In such cases, if there is a deficiency in another category of open space, then planning permission will be subject to conditions or obligations. These will be designed to secure conversion of part of the proposal site, or of other land in use, to reduce or eliminate that deficiency.

9.18 PPG17 requires that playing fields identified in the assessment of needs, should not be lost to development unless there is an established surplus of all forms of open space. If playing fields are no longer required for their original purpose, consideration should be given to their use to meet other needs for recreational land in the wider community. In advance of an assessment of needs, advice is given on dealing with applications involving development on playing fields (Paragraph 15).

9.19 Local Authorities must now consult Sport England (formerly the English Sports Council) on applications involving most forms of sports facility and notify the Secretary of State in cases where it proposes to grant planning permission involving the loss of playing fields where an objection has been received from Sport England (Circular 9/98).

9.20 Department for Education and Employment Circular 3/99 provides powers to protect school playing fields. Where provision is in excess of established standards for school playing fields, approval may be given for their disposal or change of use where the funds raised are used for sport and education and where the remaining area of the school’s playing fields meets the present and future needs of the school and the community. Sports grounds and playing fields will also be subject to Metropolitan Open Land and Urban Open Space policies as appropriate. Policy L8 adds support to these policies by ensuring that the best use is made of existing playing fields.

See also: Policies G2, G7, G8 and ER10




The Council will safeguard existing land used as allotments. Development proposals resulting in the loss of allotments will only be considered where:
there is evidence of long-term insufficient demand for continued use of land as allotments; and suitable land is made available, either by retention or relocation, for allotments that are in use.

In areas deficient in open space, any development on surplus allotment land would be expected to include an element of open space for public use.

9.21 Allotments are an important amenity and can make a positive contribution to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Demand for allotments varies considerably from site to site and over time, but is generally on the increase. Where allotments have become under-used and neglected over a long period, the Council will consider alternative uses if it is satisfied that suitable land will be provided for displaced plot holders and there is flexibility to match future demand with supply. The approval of the Secretary of State is required for the disposal or re-use of redundant statutory allotments. Such consent is normally dependent on provision being made for the existing plot holders, there being some improvement in facilities for allotment holders and an allowance being made for any future growth in demand for allotments.

See also: Policies G1, G2, G8 and L8




The Council will seek, where opportunities arise and finance permits, to secure improvements in the amount and distribution of, and access to, open space in areas of deficiency identified by the Council.

9.22 The Council has identified areas of public open space deficiency based on the hierarchy of open space, developed by the former London Planning Advisory Committee (see Table 9.1). This hierarchy is included in the London Plan (Table 3D.1) as the standard for public open space provision in London. The areas of open space deficiency are shown on the Areas of Local Park Deficiency Map.

9.23 Some areas of deficiency are unlikely to be reduced in the foreseeable future. A priority for the Council will be addressing the lack of open space at local park level (2ha). Small local parks are particularly valuable to the less mobile, such as the elderly and carers with young children. Public open space can be provided appropriately as part of new housing, retail, leisure and employment developments. Where appropriate, the Council will seek, by agreement, provision of new open space in such developments. Providing access to open space and to other open land in public ownership such as school playing fields can also help to improve the provision of open space.



A proposal for an indoor sport, recreation or leisure facility will be permitted provided that:

(i) it is located within Bromley or Orpington town centre or is allocated in the Schedule of Proposal Sites for such a use. Outside of these locations a need for the development should be demonstrated and the applicant must show that a sequential approach to site selection has been applied by favouring town centre then edge of centre sites, followed by district and local centres and only then out of centre sites in locations accessible by a choice of means of transport;
(ii) the development will not adversely impact on the character, vitality or viability of the town, district, local or other centres;
(iii) there is no detrimental impact on nearby residential amenity or other uses;
(iv) the development is in keeping with the scale and character of the surrounding buildings and area;
(v) the proposed use would not cause undue traffic congestion or be detrimental to the safety of other road users and pedestrians;
(vi) the site is easily accessible on foot, by bicycle and is (or will be) well served by public transport;
(vii) the development is designed to be accessible for people with disabilities; and
(viii) there is no conflict with other open space policies of the Plan.

Where existing facilities are affected by redevelopment proposals, the Council will seek their replacement by similar or improved provision.

9.24 Intensive indoor sports, recreation and commercial leisure facilities, which function for many hours of the day, attract many visitors and are capable of generating significant amounts of traffic. Adopting a sequential approach to site selection is intended to direct these facilities to locations that are accessible by public transport, which can help to reduce reliance on the car and contribute to the vitality and viability of town centres, with certain facilities supporting the evening economy. Local recreation facilities, such as community sports halls, should be conveniently sited so as to encourage access on foot or by bicycle. When the facilities will attract people from a wider catchment area, they should be sited where they will be well served by public transport.

9.25 Exceptions to the general presumption against the loss of existing facilities may be considered where new indoor facilities of at least an equivalent quality and quantity are provided as part of the site, or at an alternative site more accessible to users. A greater use of the high-quality sports halls with which a number of schools in the Borough are now equipped, could also broaden the scope for indoor sport. The dual use of education sites by the wider community is also relevant.

See also: Policies G1, G2, G8, S6 and S7



POLICY L10 (New Development)

A proposal for a hotel will be permitted provided that:

(i) it is located in or on the edge of Bromley or Orpington town centres, or within a district centre or a local centre (as defined in Chapter 11). Outside of these locations, the applicants must demonstrate a need for the hotel and must show that a sequential approach to site selection has been applied and that there are no suitable or available sites in the town centres, edge of town centres or within district and local centres before considering out of centre sites in locations accessible by a choice of means of transport; and
(ii) the hotel will be well-separated from neighbouring residential properties and not give rise to unacceptable levels of noise and disturbance to occupiers of nearby properties.

POLICY L11 (Changes of Use)

Normally, applications for change of use to hotels, guesthouses and boarding-houses will only be permitted where:

(i) the use is compatible with the character of the area and will not give rise to unacceptable levels of noise and disturbance to occupiers of nearby properties; and
(ii) the existing floor space of the property is greater than 170 sq.m

See also: Policy C3


9.26 Hotel accommodation in the form of purpose-built hotels or the conversion of larger properties to hotels or guesthouses would provide a useful supporting service to local businesses and cater for tourists. Hotels would also contribute to the local economy by providing jobs. Provision in Bromley may help to absorb some of the pressure for new hotels in central London. Hotels should be located in environmentally acceptable locations accessible by public transport, in accordance with the sequential approach outlined in PPS6.

9.27 Small hotels, boarding houses and bed and breakfast accommodation can help meet the demand for budget accommodation. Such uses may be more suitable in residential areas, subject to the overriding need to protect residential amenity, and to the criteria above being met. A minimum floor space limit is necessary to prevent the conversion of unsuitable smaller houses. The Council will encourage improved access to hotels for people with disabilities.

Table 9.1 Hierarchy of Public Open Space
Open Space categorisation Size guideline and distance from home
Regional Parks 400 hectares
Metropolitan Parks 60 hectares
District Parks 20 hectares
Local Parks and Open Spaces 2 hectares
Small Open Spaces Under 2 hectares
0.4km or less


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