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The Sports Centre and the Bassett Neighbourhood Plan

Localism explained

The government's "Localism Bill" is an initiative to give local communities more say in the development of their area;

After independent scrutiny of the proposals and acceptance of the Plan by local referendum, the Plan then carries the weight of law for regulating development within the area. This has all been achieved.

The scheme was originally designed for parishes and towns, but Bassett ward in Southampton was the first City ward in the country to try to establish a Neighbourhood Plan for itself. A huge amount of work by all of the local residents associations and by local Councillors has produced a street-by-street Development Plan for Bassett, and a management forum established which includes local Councillors and representatives from all of the local resident associations.


The Bassett Plan in a nutshell (click to expand)

The Bassett Neighbourhood Plan as adopted (pdf)

Why is this important for FoSSC and the Sports Centre?

The Sports Centre lies within Bassett ward and the Bassett Development Plan formally designates the site and its surrounding woodland as “Local Green Space” which gives it significant protection from unwanted development. FoSSC was instrumental in the process of writing the section of the Plan concerning the Outdoor Sports Centre and in designating the area as open green space.

This is what the Bassett Neighbourhood Plan says about the Outdoor Sports Centre, Golf Course and surrounding amenity woodland.


19.1 Southampton Sports Centre occupies some 270 acres of municipal open space in the northwest of the Ward and comprises Southampton City Golf Course and Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre and a small area of amenity woodland lying between the facilities and Winchester Road. The land was purchased in 1934 using a loan from the Ministry of Health. It is held in Trust from the Ministry of Health and its antecedents under the Public Health Acts of 1875 and 1925, and is classified as ‘open space’ for the purposes of the Local Government Act 1972. The facilities were formally opened in 1938. It is also an area of Green Space of Particular Importance in the City (NPPF paragraph 75).

19.2 At the time of writing, operation of the facilities is contracted out to two charitable sports management organisations: Active Nation (Outdoor Sports Centre) which is a registered charity and Mytime Active (City Golf Course), which is a social enterprise with charitable objectives.

19.3 The provision of outdoor facilities for the benefit of all the residents of Southampton was the brainchild of Sir Sidney Kimber who proposed

“to create for the present and future generations another civic centre – an outdoor sports and recreation centre under one management and control, large, central, compact, beautifully situated for the use of thousands of both sexes, young and old, robust and frail, rich and poor, for the provision of all known outdoor games,which centre is bound to promote health, enjoyment and happiness to untold numbers; and, as the years roll on and the population multiplies enormously, will prove to be one of the outstanding assets of a town and port destined for unrivalled supremacy”

19.4 Historically there has been a presumption for development that:


and against development that:

19.5 There has also been a consistent policy of granting only time-limited consent for placing of temporary buildings (containers and portacabins) as these have been considered unacceptable as permanent solutions / development. Those consents have long expired and proposals to replace temporary facilities with sympathetic, permanent structures are appropriate.

19.6 Sports and recreational needs change over time as activities grow and decline in popularity, as population demographics and health profiles change, and Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre must be allowed to evolve and develop to cater for these changing needs.

19.7 There is a proven need for all the facilities within this Sports Centre and City Golf Course. The surrounding woodland is valued open space. It is very well used, and was highlighted by nearly all residents in the consultation process that they consider it an essential part of the City infrastructure.

19.8 The buildings within the Sports Centre and City Golf Course may need to be developed and improved to provide suitable facilities, but these should be restricted to those required for sporting or recreational purposes only.

19.9 Open spaces and sport and recreational facilities should not be built on except under exceptional conditions (NPPF paragraph 74).

19.10 Local communities through their neighbourhood plan should be able to identify for special protection, green areas of particular importance (NPPF paragraph 76). Policy BAS 13 takes this into account with the designation of the open and undeveloped land at Southampton City Golf Course, the Outdoor Sports Centre and nearby amenity woodland as Local Green Space whereby any development will only be permitted in very special circumstances


19.11 Very special circumstances could include circumstances where development would help either to fund improvements to sports or recreation facilities, or to improve or provide such facilities directly, or where it can be shown that there is an essential need for the provision of utility infrastructure. Figure 3 on page 17 shows the Local Green Space designation.


All the open or undeveloped land within the boundaries of the Outdoor Sports Centre, City Golf Course and the nearby amenity woodland as shown on Figure 3 is designated as Local Green Space. Within this area, proposals for development will not be permitted except in very special circumstances.