PPS 5: Retailing and Town Centres
Town Centres: Physical Environment of Town Centres
28. The quality of the environment in town centres is of great importance. A high quality public realm can increase business confidence, foster civic pride and emphasise local identity. The Department will, where appropriate and within financial constraints, support proposals for:
- further Pedestrianisation;
- environmental improvements, in particular to make the pedestrian environment more welcoming while reducing the priority given to the motor vehicle;
- rear servicing of premises to reduce on-street congestion and conflict between pedestrians and vehicles;
- enhancement of open spaces;
- making better use of derelict, underused or unused land;
- conserving and enhancing historic buildings and townscape;
- provision of an appropriate level of car parking; and
- provision for cycle parking.
29. The Department wishes to emphasise the importance of urban design within town centres and will require development proposals in town centres to make a positive contribution to townscape and be sensitive to the character of the area surrounding the site in terms of design, scale and use of materials of both the buildings. New development within town centres should minimise visual, functional and physical disruption and enhance or create interest, vitality and variety. Insensitive development which disrupts the scale and rhythm of townscape will be resisited. Building design will need to be architecturally sympathetic to the important townscape elements of sensitive locations, such as Conservation Areas or the settings of listed buildings. The Department may prepare development briefs for development opportunity sites which would set out the appropriate design guidance.
30. Careful design of the pedestrian environment is particularly important for people with disabilities. The needs of people with disabilities will be taken into consideration by measures to help create an accessible environment and in the determination of planning applications for the development of buildings to which the public have access. The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (NI) Act 1978 requires developers of specified types of buildings to provide suitable means of access, parking and toilet facilities to meet the needs of people with disabilities, where practical and reasonable. The types of buildings to which the Act applies are those open to the public (such as shops, restaurants, hotel, places of entertainment, leisure and community buildings), places of employment and education buildings.