Planning Portal

Magherafelt Area Plan 2015
Strategic Plan Framework: Settlement

The 2001 census determined the population of Magherafelt District at 39,780 persons. Based on this census information it is estimated that approximately 43% of the household population of the District at 2001 were living within the existing limits of development of its 2 towns and 4 villages, with the remaining 57% living in the small settlements and open countryside.  Further details relating to the population of the settlements throughout the District are contained in the Population and Housing Technical Supplement.Magherafelt functions as the major centre for housing and employment, retail and professional services and for cultural activities, including sport and leisure. The 2001 census estimates that approximately 8,289 persons, or 21% of the District population, were living within the existing limit of development at 2001.
Maghera functions as a secondary housing and service centre.  The 2001 census estimates that approximately 3,648 persons, or 9% of the District population, were living within the existing limit of development limit at 2001.
The villages of Bellaghy, Castledawson, Draperstown and Tobermore currently perform a lesser, but locally significant role, in providing housing, employment and services for their residents and the wider rural community.
Small settlements, at the lower level of the settlement hierarchy, provide a community focus for their immediate rural area but are limited in their infrastructure, services and employment provision and offer only very limited growth potential.

Regional Policy Context

The Spatial Development Strategy of the Regional Development Strategy (RDS), which provides a framework for the future physical development of the Region, identifies a hierarchy of rural settlements based on urban hubs (comprising main towns and small towns) and a strong rural community living either in villages, small settlements or dispersed dwellings in the open countryside.
RDS Strategic Planning Guideline SPG RNI 3 is ‘To support the network of service centres based on main towns, small towns and villages in Rural Northern Ireland.’ Measures identified to implement this Strategic Planning Guideline include:-
  • ·RNI 3.1 ‘Develop a network of strong main towns as the major locations providing employment, services and a range of cultural and leisure amenities for both townspeople and rural communities.’
  • ·RNI 3.3 ‘sustain and consolidate the role of small towns and villages as local rural centres.’
Magherafelt town is identified as a Local Hub in the Spatial Development Strategy. The RDS anticipates future growth in line with Magherafelt’s role as a local service centre. It also identifies particular strengths and opportunities which have the potential to support further growth.
Designation SETT 1 Designation of Settlements
Settlements are designated in accordance with a hierarchy which consists of:
Towns: Magherafelt, Maghera
Villages: Bellaghy, Castledawson, Draperstown, Tobermore.
Small Settlements: Ballymaguigan, Ballynease, Clady, Creagh, Culnady, Curran, Desertmartin, Glen, Glenone, Gracefield, Gulladuff, Inishrush, Kilross, Knockcloghrim, Longfield, Moneyneany, Straw, Swatragh, Tamlaght, Upperlands, The Woods.
The above settlement hierarchy takes account of a wide range of factors, including the Spatial Development Strategy in the RDS, the population of individual settlements and an assessment of the role or function of settlements, including the retail base, employment opportunities and community services (e.g. social, religious, educational, recreational), existing hard infrastructure (e.g. sewerage services, water supply, drainage) including spare capacity and public transport provision.
The settlement hierarchy also takes account of an assessment of the character and environmental setting of the settlements including their potential to accommodate further growth.
New small settlements have been designated at Ballymaguigan, Ballynease, Glen, Gracefield, Kilross, Longfield and The Woods.
Policy SETT 2 Development within Settlement Development Limits
Planning permission will only be granted on zoned sites for development proposals that comply with the specified use.
Planning permission will only be granted for alternative types of development in a Land Use Policy Area where the development proposal will:
  • be subordinate to the preferred use and occupy a small portion of the Land Use Policy Area;
  • exist in close proximity to the preferred use without adverse environmental consequences;
  • not prejudice accessibility to the remainder of the Land Use Policy Area, and
  • not prejudice potential in the settlement to meet overall development needs.
Favourable consideration will only be given to development proposals within settlement development limits, including zoned sites within towns and Land Use Policy Areas within villages, provided that the proposal:
  • is sensitive to the size and character of the settlement in terms of scale, form, design and use of materials;
  • is, where applicable, in accordance with any key site requirements contained in Part 4 of the Plan.
Settlement development limits are designated for each town, village and small settlement in the District, as set out in Part 4 of the Plan.
In accordance with PPS 1 – General Principles, zoned land and Land Use Policy Areas, along with the key site requirements which developers will be expected to meet, are set out and shown in Parts 3 and 4 of the Plan. The zoning of land provides a basis for rational and consistent decisions on planning applications and provides a measure of certainty about which types of development will and will not be permitted.
Development proposals in the towns, villages and small settlements of the District will be considered in the context of prevailing regional planning policy and the Plan Proposals.
Within Magherafelt and Maghera land has been zoned for housing and industry uses. Within the villages Land Use Policy Areas identify lands considered to be particularly appropriate for specific types of development.  For example they can indicate where the main housing growth areas may take place in a village.  They can also be used to identify sites which are particularly suitable for industrial or business use, or for which there is a clear indication of potential demand for such use.
It is not the Departments’ practice to identify land within small settlements for specific land uses. Zonings create a degree of inflexibility in the development of those lands which can frustrate the orderly development of smaller settlements.
Policy SETT 3 Development Opportunity Sites
Within designated Development Opportunity Sites development proposals shall be in accordance with the key site requirements set out in Part 4 of the Plan.
In accordance with PPS 1 – General Principles, zoned land (development opportunity sites) with the key site requirements which developers will be expected to meet, are set out and shown in Part 4 of the Plan. The zoning of land provides a basis for rational and consistent decisions on planning applications and provides a measure of certainty about which types of development will and will not be permitted.
Development Opportunity Sites are designated in Magherafelt and Maghera.
Development Opportunity Sites are designated where lands are under-utilised or vacant and where development, which might provide a mix of new uses, could promote the vitality and viability of the urban area or town centre, or could enhance the townscape, for example by closing frontage gaps or by replacing unattractive features.  Such development within a town centre could enhance shopping frontages, encourage pedestrian movement and so assist commercial growth.
Proposals to develop these sites will be considered in the context of prevailing regional planning policy and the requirements and guidance contained in Part 4 of the Plan.
The initiation of development proposals for sites will be a matter for landowners and interested developers.
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