Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015
Strategic Plan Framework: Tourism Policies
The opportunities for tourism development (including accommodation) within the Plan Area exist principally in the urban areas and rural settlements where infrastructure is already in place and there are opportunities to capitalise on the existing tourism facilities and increase the tourism pull of the area. There is a need for a ‘must see’ destination within the Metropolitan Area in addition to additional provision of international standard accommodation at well-accessed nodes with existing local support services which will aid expansion of the business tourism market.
Tourism development is not considered appropriate where it would have a negative impact on the character of the townscape, natural or built heritage or cultural assets or which would adversely impact on the quality of the coastal, environmental and landscape resources of the Plan Area.
All new tourism development must be appropriately located and designed to the highest standards to ensure there is no detrimental impact on the quality of the environment and make a positive contribution to the tourism base of the area. As the quality and diversity of urban environments are essential to the future of the tourism industry, it is necessary to seek to ensure that tourism development does not damage the assets it seeks to exploit. This should ensure its future tourist value and protect important public views and visual amenity.
Where there is inadequate infrastructure in place to meet the needs of the proposal, the landowner developer will be required to enter into a Planning Agreement to secure the delivery of the infrastructure required in association with the proposal.
Tourists are attracted by a wide range of features in the open countryside such as areas of quality landscape, the coast, archaeological sites and monuments, and historic buildings, gardens, landscaped parks and demesnes and by our industrial heritage.
These areas which owe their attraction to the quality of the landscape, built heritage or their leisure potential should be protected from over development to ensure that a delicate balance is maintained between exploitation of the natural resource and overdevelopment which would prejudice its future role as a tourism asset.
The open countryside has been identified as a Sensitive Tourism Zone hence proposals for tourist development including tourist accommodation will be balanced against the objectives of protecting these areas and keeping new development to a minimum. While the majority of accommodation needs should be located within the Metropolitan Development Limit or Settlement Development Limits, it is accepted that the nature of tourism is such that a wider choice of location may be required.
However in order to protect the open countryside new tourist developments will be approved only where a site-specific need is proven to the satisfaction of the Department. Only those proposals which are in close association with a particular tourism asset and where a positive need is identified will be permitted. All proposals will be judged on their contribution to the tourist industry.
Details shall be included which identify the positive impact that the proposal will make to rural employment, business formation, local economic growth rates and the skill base in the rural area as well as the degree to which they contribute to the natural, man made and built heritage. Advice will be taken from the NITB and other appropriate bodies. Such developments must be acceptable in terms of the scale and design of any new building, the level of activity and type of use and integration into the local environment.
Planning permission may be granted for the sympathetic conversion of existing buildings or the change of use and minor extensions to buildings to provide tourist accommodation subject to meeting prevailing greenbelt and normal planning policy. To ensure that accommodation intended for tourists is retained as such the Department will attach a condition requiring that the accommodation be used for holiday occupation only and not as permanent residential accommodation.
A major hotel development with function and conference facilities will not be acceptable in the open countryside due to the scale of development and the level of activity generated.
All applications within designated Areas of High Scenic Value, Areas of Constraint on Mineral Development, Rural Landscape wedges or the coastal zone are considered as Tourism Conservation Zones and will be assessed in the context of the relevant Plan Policy.
Where the proposed site contains significant parts of Local Landscape Policy Areas, Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance, Historic Parks, Gardens or Demesnes, Conservation Areas, Areas of Townscape or Village Character, Listed Buildings, Industrial Heritage or Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest, this policy will apply in addition to or without prejudice to any other statutory provision or policy relating to these features.
|Policy T 3 Protection of the Settings of Tourism Assets|
|Planning permission will not be granted for development within the visual setting of tourism assets that would have an adverse impact on their tourism role.|
Inappropriate development within the visual setting of tourism assets such as quality landscapes, scenic routes, Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest or particular features of the built or natural environment can have an adverse impact on their character and effectiveness in attracting tourists.
The Plan seeks to ensure that new development within the visual setting of tourism assets is consistent with their role and importance to the tourism industry. The quality of the area surrounding the asset shall be protected from unnecessary or excessive development as over development would destroy its intrinsic character and quality.