Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
The Context: Issues
A number of key planning issues have been identified from the background material and the consultation responses.
Northern Ireland's increasing population will generate a variety of development requirements e.g. houses, factories, shops, schools and recreational facilities. The precise nature of these requirements will reflect the changes in population and household structure; the need to make good present deficiencies; social and economic change within society generally and people's changing expectations. In particular it will be necessary to meet society's need for housing by providing a choice of suitable accommodation in appropriate locations.
It is necessary to provide a flexible and relevant approach to the planning of different areas, to take account of their particular characteristics. Allied to this is the need to assist and encourage communities and their elected representatives to be actively involved in the planning of their locality.
A major issue is the need to protect Northern Ireland's environmental assets; its natural resources; landscapes, habitats and species; its man-made heritage and its relative freedom from pollution.
There is also the need to provide for the development of the regional economy and in particular the diversification of the rural economy.
The extent of future development in individual towns and villages needs to be determined and ways found to restore confidence in those settlements suffering from decay and dereliction.
Given the amount of housing development which has already taken place and continuing pressures for development, a key issue is to establish the extent to which future development can be accommodated in the countryside without detriment to the environment.
There is a concern about the quality and impact of much recent development in the open countryside and about the standards which should be applied to ensure that new development is satisfactorily integrated into its rural setting.
The fundamental challenge is to find the right balance between the development necessary to meet society's changing requirements and conserving the environment for future generations.