Planning Portal

Magherafelt Area Plan 2015
Settlements: Magherafelt

Background

Magherafelt town is the largest settlement in Magherafelt District, with an estimated population in 2001 of 8,289 within the existing limit of development. Magherafelt accommodates approximately 21% of the total population of the District.
Magherafelt is located to the north-west of Lough Neagh. It is some 56 kilometres to the north-west of Belfast and some 65 kilometres to the south-east of Londonderry. Magherafelt lies on the A31 trunk road and is close to the A6 Belfast / Londonderry strategic route.
The town has its roots in the Plantation of Ulster having been established by the Salters’ Company in c.1614. The Plantation legacy is still evident in the town’s wide Broad Street with the Market Square at the top (site of the Plantation castle and bawn), and the ruins of the Planters’ church at the lower end.
The 19th Century Magherafelt consisted of four principal streets; Broad Street, Charity (Rainey) Street, The Pass (Queen Street) and Meeting (Market) Street. Modern development has taken place on and between the arterial routes radiating out from the town centre.
Magherafelt town is situated on rising land to the west of the Lough Neagh lowlands. The surrounding landscape is dominated by shallow hills and ridges, with occasional distinctive small conical hills and sharp breaks of slope.
Through traffic from the north-east and south-west passes through the town centre and traffic congestion occurs at peak periods. Development of the town is not constrained by water supply however some drainage improvement works may be required. Periodic flooding occurs in several lower lying areas of the town close to watercourses.

Regional Policy Context

The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) identifies Magherafelt as having an important role as a local service centre providing retail, health, educational and community facilities for the town’s population and a significant rural hinterland. The town has developed as a relatively strong retail centre and has experienced an above average level of new enterprise start-ups. Agriculture remains important to the local economy.
The RDS recognises that Magherafelt town is well placed in relation to the Regional Strategic Transport Network which is an advantage to its future development. Its location in the heart of the Region and in close proximity to the Sperrin Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty provide a good opportunity for developing its tourism function.
The RDS recognises that whilst there is potential for outward growth there are also opportunities for development of inner urban and recycled land within the built fabric of the town.
The RDS recognises that Magherafelt has the potential to build on its role as an important employment centre and to further develop its growing housing, employment and service role. It also emphasises strengthening the town centre and its retail sector, developing public transport where possible and further increasing the economic self-sufficiency of the town.

Development Strategy

pplyBrkRulesMagherafelt is substantially the larger of the two towns within the District. Its prominence in terms of housing, industry, retailing, services, administration, and community facilities, together with its location relative to the regional strategic transportation network and its significant rural hinterland make it a sustainable location for future development within the District.
In response to the issues impacting on the town and taking account of the RDS the Development Strategy is to:
  • define the current settlement development limit in order to identify sufficient lands for development in a variety of locations throughout the Plan period;
  • allocate sufficient land for housing in accordance with the Plan Strategy, to provide for choice of location, to maximise the use of vacant or under-developed land within the urban footprint and to promote a compact urban form;
  • facilitate the redevelopment of vacant under used lands in the town centre by identifying a range of development opportunity sites;
  • provide a choice of location for a variety of employment uses by zoning additional lands. The zoning of additional areas for industry and employment uses will provide alternative locations to Creagh which accommodates the Invest Northern Ireland (INI) site and other larger scale industrial enterprises;
  • provide for the commercial expansion of the town centre by extending the town centre boundary and identifying a primary retail core;
  • seek to protect and to enhance the town’s environmental quality by designating and safeguarding local landscapes both within the town and on the urban fringe which contribute to visual amenity, to the setting of the town, or which contain particular features, locally valuable and worthy of retention; and
  • designate and protect part of Tobermore Road as an Area of Townscape Character.
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