Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy HOU 5 Flats

Policy HOU 5 Flats
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 12-Housing in Settlements
Planning permission will be granted in appropriate areas for the conversion of buildings, or the redevelopment of sites, to flats.
There is a continuing increase in the total number of households in Northern Ireland. Conversion of larger and mainly older houses to flats is a regular occurrence in settlements and can make a useful contribution to meeting the housing needs of small households.
However, in certain areas the development of flats has led to environmental problems. It is, therefore, necessary to control the location of flat conversions, in the interest of orderly land use change, protection of amenity and prevention of traffic or parking congestion. In some towns, Flat Policy Areas, will be designated through the development plan system. In these areas there will be a presumption in favour of flat development, subject to normal planning and environmental considerations.
This policy is aimed at increasing the number of small dwelling units. It may also lead to the improvement of large, older property no longer suitable for single family accommodation and a more efficient use of land. It will also act to conserve family-sized dwellings, control the spread of flat conversions, and maintain the character of existing residential areas.
Proposals will be considered in relation to the location, nature of accommodation being provided, accessibility and availability of parking space. Flat conversions may have to be refused if serious traffic risks cannot be avoided.
Planning permission will not be granted for the sub-division of a small house into flats, if this would result in substandard dwellings lacking normal facilities, or where the provision of normal facilities and reasonable standards would require a disproportionate extension. This will prevent the loss of good housing accommodation and protect the character of an area.
The orientation, siting and internal arrangements of the building or buildings in a flat development should be such that each flat has adequate daylight and the privacy and amenity of nearby residential properties are safeguarded.
Car parking should as far as possible be located to the rear or side of properties and not in front gardens. Landscaping schemes and the provision of private amenity space within the site, sufficient to provide bin storage, external storage facilities and sitting out areas, will be required.
More detailed guidance on low rise apartment developments in existing residential areas is given in Development Control Advice Note 8 - Small Unit Housing.
The conversion of a large house in the countryside into flats will depend on individual circumstances. While no new building may result, the additional residential use and associated traffic and pressure on services will have an impact which could be harmful to the rural character of an area. Conversion of listed houses to flats will be evaluated in relation to impact on the character of buildings.
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