70. The policy context set out in Circulars and NPPGs should be reflected in structure and local plans and will be a material consideration in deciding individual planning applications. Particularly in the areas of unmet demand identified by the SSC, planning authorities should consider whether development plan alterations and replacement plans should include policies and proposals for golf courses and related development.
71. It is for each planning authority to determine whether golf courses and related developments are issues which require specific treatment in structure plans. Planning authorities will find it helpful to establish the spare capacity of existing courses in association with clubs, federations, the SSC, the Scottish Tourist Board and local area tourist boards before formulating their policies and proposals. Where an authority decides that a policy framework for the provision of new courses and other facilities is necessary then it should be set within the wider context of a strategy for sport, leisure and tourism. An important input to this will be the SSC Information Digest FP5. The areas of unmet demand for golf courses are focused on the countryside around towns and cities and in the green belts and this could provide the basis for strategic policies in structure plans. It may also be appropriate to include guidance for the preparation of local plans.
72. The scale of all the unmet demand identified by the SSC is unlikely to be satisfied in the short term. It will therefore be important to set out a long term approach to the issue as an integral part of the structure plan's vision for the area. The advice in PAN 37: Structure Planning is that plans should have a long term perspective with a time horizon extending at least 10 years beyond the expected date of approval.
Local Planning and Development Control
73. "The purpose of local planning is to guide development and changes in land use so that the physical environment can best serve the community" ( PAN 30 - Local Planning). Authorities seeking to increase the provision of courses, irrespective of whether they are to be publicly or privately owned, may seek to identify sites in local plans. Policies which provide positive guidance to developers should also be set out.
74. Policies will have to address development issues affecting existing courses, new courses and related development. In formulating their local plan policies planning authorities should aim to:
- indicate how Government and structure plan policy on development associated with new courses will be applied;
- set out planning policy and proposals relating to existing and new courses;
- state preferences for landscape protection and enhancement, conservation and habitat management for existing and new courses;
- safeguard existing landscape character and natural heritage interests;
- safeguard historic buildings, archaeological sites and designed landscapes.
75. Where a planning application includes a golf course and related development, key issues for determining the way in which the proposal is evaluated will be whether the golf course is of primary or secondary significance to the development and the comparative scale and value of the scheme's components. The general policy framework is set out in paragraphs 23-41. Other essential factors which should be considered are:
- a foundation of local need or tourist demand for the golf course;
- the suitability of the site for the associated development in geographical, geological, topographical, nature conservation, cultural heritage and landscape policy terms;
- the retention of access to existing public open space or the creation of opportunities for new access;
- respect for and use of existing elements of natural and cultural heritage value and the scope for enhancement.
76. Where appropriate, consultations should be carried out with:-
- the Scottish Sports Council;
- the Scottish Tourist Board or local area tourist board;
- the Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department regarding developments on agricultural land;
- Historic Scotland on historic gardens and buildings, designed parklands and landscapes, ancient monuments, conservation areas and archaeology;
- the appropriate Regional Archaeologist for information and advice on archaeology;
- Scottish Natural Heritage on a range of natural heritage issues, including designed landscapes and landscape in general;
- the Scottish Wildlife Trust for detailed advice on nature conservation;
- a landscape architect and ecologist for expert professional advice on golf course design and natural and cultural heritage conservation.