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Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Countryside: Proposals COU 1 - COU 6

Proposal COU 1 Green Belt
A Greenbelt is designated for Ards and Down as shown on Map No. 1
The pressure analysis suggests that development patterns and continuing pressures are threatening the rural character of the countryside beyond the existing Green Belt.
In the context of the RDS and the analysis of existing and potential development pressures, landscape character and travel-to-work patterns, the Department considers Green Belt designation in those parts of the Plan area indicated on the Countryside Maps to be justified, in order to exercise control over new development to meet the objectives of regional planning policy.
The area covered by the existing BUA Greenbelt, together with the area immediately to the south in Down District, continues to experience pressure for development. To exclude from Green Belt designation, that part of Down District south-west of Downpatrick and north of the Mourne Mountains, which has easy access to the main road network and which is within the BMA “travel-to-work” hinterland as identified in the RDS, would be likely to facilitate a future increase in pressure for development and consequential further loss of rural character. Furthermore, to exclude Lecale from designation risks additional pressures for development being diverted to this area from other parts of Down District designated as Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area, as demonstrated by historical trends to the north of Downpatrick.
In order to exercise control over existing and future development pressures in the Ards Peninsula, and to be consistent with the RDS, Spatial Development Strategy, the Department considers that the Peninsula should be designated as Green Belt.
The dispersal of district population throughout the countryside, evident in the pressure analysis has left Downpatrick without the “critical mass” of population, employment and expenditure required to attract and sustain a level of investment in industrial, commercial and social infrastructure sufficient to provide and maintain a reasonable level and quality of services for the population of Down District. To achieve self-sustaining growth in Downpatrick, and to implement the Spatial Development Strategy in Down District in respect of main town growth and urban renaissance, it is necessary to restrain development in the open countryside.
Developments proposed within these designated areas will be determined in accordance with prevailing regional policy. Where the boundary of the Green Belt follows the outer edge of a road, the outer edge of the Green belt is defined at 100 metres beyond the road line.
Proposal COU 2 Countryside Policy Areas
A Countryside Policy Area is designated for Ards and Down as shown on Map No. 1
The Plan area contains two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a substantial part of the Mourne AONB falling within Down District. These are scenic areas within daily travel distance of both Belfast and Newry and therefore likely to attract inward migration from urban populations. Development pressures may also increase in response to greater constraints elsewhere. The Department considers that Countryside Policy Area designation is necessary to protect these valued landscapes of recognised national landscape quality from existing and future development pressures and to maintain their rural character. Where the boundary of the Countryside Policy Area follows the line of a road, the outer edge of the Countryside Policy Area is defined at 100 metres beyond the road line.
Proposal COU 3 Craigantlet Escarpment Area of High Scenic Value
An Area of High Scenic Value is designated at Craigantlet Escarpment in accordance with Policy CON 1 in this Volume of the Plan and as indicated on the relevant Ards Countryside Map.
The distinctive landform of the Craigantlet Escarpment was identified in the Northern Ireland Landscape Character Assessment as an area of scenic quality and is designated in this Plan as an Area of High Scenic Value. The escarpment provides a dramatic visual setting and contains the urban area to the south east side of Belfast city and continues to the junction of Belfast Road and Holywood Road at Ballybarnes within the Ards Borough. This area lies predominantly within the Belfast Metropolitan Plan area. Where the boundary of the AoHSV follows the outer edge of a road, the outer edge of the AoHSV is defined at 100 metres beyond the road line.
Proposal COU 4 Magheraknock Loughs Area of High Scenic Value
An Area of High Scenic Value is designated at Magheraknock Loughs in accordance with Policy CON 1 in this Volume of the Plan and as indicated on the relevant Down Countryside Map.
The area around Magheraknock Loughs was identified in the Northern Ireland Landscape Character Assessment as an area of scenic quality and is designated in this Plan as an Area of High Scenic Value. These loughs form part of the Ravarnet Valley landscape and lie within the broad undulating valley floor of the Ravarnet River and its tributaries. This area lies predominantly within the Belfast Metropolitan Plan area. Where the boundary of the AoHSV follows the outer edge of a road, the outer edge of the AoHSV is defined at 100 metres beyond the road line.
Proposal COU 5 Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance
Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance are designated in accordance with Policy CON 3 in this Volume of the Plan in the locations identified on the Countryside Maps and in Appendix 5.
Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance have been identified and proposed on the basis of their flora, fauna or earth science interest.
Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance are also designated as Areas of Constraint on Minerals Development under COU 8 below.
Proposal COU 6 Kearney Area of Townscape Character
An Area of Townscape Character is designated within the Kearney area in accordance with Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS 6): Planning, Archaeology and the Built Heritage as indiciated on the relevant Down Countryside Map and in Appendix 6.
Kearney’s character, appearance and key features and the basis for its designation as an Area of Townscape Character derive from:
  • uniformity of scale, structure and materials finding expression in the vernacular building practice;
  • the shared open space and private enclosures;
  • the two storey buildings standing among the others as reference points;
  • the Corn Mill Stump at Kearney corner and the stone ditches and hedgerows along the approach road; and
  • the physical linkages and fundamental associations between the village, the land and the sea.
Kearney is a small informal grouping of buildings located on the seaward coast of the Lower Ards Peninsula. Its date of origin is unknown but pre-dates by many years the early Ordnance Survey Series of the 1830s.
The character of the group is informal but tightly bound by affinities and uniformity of scale, materials, colouring, enclosure and common spaces. Typical features are common open space, private enclosures formed by low walls, hedges and traditional gates, gabled slated roofs and harled whitewashed walls with few and small openings.
Development proposals, where acceptable, will be expected to preserve or enhance the existing character and appearance of both village and/or host building. Special regard shall be had to sustaining the traditional and vernacular characteristics of the existing buildings in terms building practice, layout, ancillary provision, design, scale, materials, finishes and colour.
Kearney is considered to be of sufficient architectural, cultural, and historic note to merit designation as a Conservation Area. It is the Department’s intention to do so, as and when resources permit.
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