Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy HOU 7 Housing in Dispersed Rural Communities

Policy HOU 7 Housing in Disperd Rural Communities
The provisions of PPS 21 will take precedence over this policy.
To accommodate the need for housing in designated dispersed rural communities.
The settlement pattern of the dispersed rural community is one of single houses or clusters of houses, which have developed over time in the countryside, close to a church, school or shop. These facilities are considered by the residents to be the focal point for their dispersed community.
Each dispersed rural community, which fulfils certain criteria, will be identified and may be designated in the development plan for the area. The criteria for designation will include:
  • location outside Countryside Policy Areas, Green Belts or other areas of development pressure close to existing towns;
  • association with a traditional focal point, where there is convincing evidence of local community activity; with the existence of social and recreational facilities, such as a church, hall, school, community centre or sports club;
  • other facilities or services, such as a shop, public house or sewage treatment works;
  • a strong community identity. This could manifest itself through a local community association, church organisation or sports club; and
  • a locally significant number of dwellings that have been built over time. Although these places are not nucleated settlements, they will have to be more than just open countryside. A build-up or cluster of recently built houses will normally not be considered as fulfilling this criterion.
The method of determining the acceptability of development sites will depend on local circumstances. A limit of development will not necessarily be drawn round the existing dispersed settlement pattern, as this may be an unnecessary obstacle to promoting the regeneration of the community and gives no indication of the availability of housing or other sites.
In an effort to help sustain these particular rural communities, the Planning Service will approve suitable proposals for single houses or small groups of houses, associated with the existing settlement pattern.
The determining factors, on any application for housing development in dispersed communities, will be the number of dwellings proposed, the visual impact of the development, and its association or integration with the existing settlement pattern. Other service considerations such as access, method of sewage disposal, and drainage may on occasions be critical.
Planning permission will normally be limited to proposals for groups of 5 or 6 houses. Developments should reflect the evolution of these communities over time and maintain local rural character. Each proposal will however depend on local circumstances and planning decisions will be made locally having regard to the policies in the development plan.
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