Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Introduction: Plan Strategy
The Strategy of the Plan centres on the need for it to be in broad conformity with the Regional Development Strategy (RDS) and in particular the Spatial Development Strategy, a major thrust of which is to promote more sustainable patterns of development based on:-
- a polycentric network of growth poles integrated with the transport corridors and incorporating enhanced public transport;
- compact urban forms;
- more housing within existing urban areas; and
- the sensible and sensitive use of the built heritage and the rural environment.
In summary, the Plan Strategy is to:
- identify, define, designate and safeguard as appropriate, areas of conservation, archaeological, scientific, landscape or amenity importance or interest, within both the natural and built heritage of the Plan area;
- designate settlement limits and land use zonings for Newtownards and Downpatrick such as to facilitate a level of growth which reflects their status as main towns and main hubs so defined in the RDS; and for Ballynahinch, Comber and Newcastle such as to facilitate a level of growth which reflects their defined status as local hubs; and for Donaghadee such as to facilitate a level of growth which reflects its town status;
- designate zonings for housing development which will facilitate an appropriate level of housing growth in Ballynahinch and Comber, two of the seven towns in the Belfast Metropolitan Area Rural Hinterland, for which the RDS has indicated a significant planned expansion to meet housing need related to the Metropolitan Area;
- facilitate management of the release of housing land for development in towns in accordance with the RDS, through a sequential and phased approach and in support of urban renaissance and conservation of town settings and greenfield lands by maximising as feasible the identified proportion of new housing potential within existing urban areas;
- designate settlement limits for villages and small settlements, which will facilitate a level of new housing development that is consistent with the approach set out in the RDS and in accordance with the assessment of their individual capacities, whilst recognising a proportion of new housing development is likely to continue to be provided in the open countryside;
- sustain a living and working countryside whilst supporting the growth and regeneration of towns and protecting from inappropriate development those areas that are vulnerable to development pressure or that are visually or environmentally sensitive, through Green Belt and Countryside Policy Area designations;
- establish policy, proposals and criteria as appropriate against which particular site development proposals will be assessed in order to help achieve good quality development, to respect environmental assets and to facilitate the development of balanced communities in accordance with the strategic requirements of the RDS;
- protect existing and designate additional industrial areas to make provision for an adequate supply and choice of land for employment uses which take account of the provisions of the RDS including the proximity to Plan area population, in particular areas of economic and social deprivation, and of accessibility to major transportation routes;
- identify, define, designate and safeguard as appropriate specific areas where the retention of, or provision of additional, retail, services, leisure and other community facilities will positively contribute to the amenity and well being of the Plan area population, subject to prevailing regional planning policy;
- promote appropriate growth of the tourism industry; and
- define, as appropriate, transportation related proposals in accordance with the Regional Transportation Strategy which are intended to facilitate improved flow of vehicular traffic whilst promoting reduction in car travel and the use of alternative modes of travel.
It is proposed that the Plan will implement this Strategy through a set of Policies and Proposals that are in accordance with the Department’s current regional planning policies. These Plan policies and proposals are contained in Volumes 1, 2 and 3.