Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy  IC 15 Roadside Service Facilities

Policy IC 15 Roadside Service Facilities
The provision of roadside service facilities on the trunk roads network in the open countryside may be considered acceptable where there is a clear indication of need.
It is important to secure the adequate provision of roadside services for long distance travellers using the trunk roads network. As part of the continual upgrading of the network, many settlements have been bypassed. It is not always appropriate for travellers to divert off major routes for services. On the other hand there has been pressure for new development, particularly petrol filling stations in the open countryside. This pressure if left unchecked could result in a proliferation of development resulting in a loss of environmental quality along major routes.
Proposals for roadside service facilities may be considered along the trunk roads network. New facilities will not be permitted unless:
  • there is a clear indication of need. In normal circumstances it is considered reasonable to expect a driver to travel at least 12 miles along the main traffic route network before reaching a petrol filling station or service centre (on either side of single carriageway roads). Proposals for new facilities within 12 miles of existing services will therefore not normally be acceptable;
  • the access arrangements are satisfactory. Proposals which would lead to traffic hazards will not be permitted. Stations should be designed for one-way working and should be accessible without dangerous right-turning movements across traffic flows. The pairing of stations/ services on either side of the road is always preferable - on both single and dual carriageways. In general, sites adjacent to the main routes but which have access to a minor route may be preferable to sites with direct access, provided the facility is clearly indicated to on-coming traffic. Where direct access is permitted the applicant will normally be required to provide any necessary improvements to the road layout, such as deceleration lanes; and
  • the proposal is satisfactory in terms of location, siting and design as set out in Policy DES 5. Adequate screening by landscaping will normally be required.
In normal circumstances, proposals for petrol filling stations, and roadside services are unlikely to be acceptable in Green Belts, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Countryside Policy Areas.
Along the trunk road network the Department considers there is a need not only for fuel provision but also for a wider range of services including toilet and catering services and picnic sites together with adequate parking. Favourable consideration will be given to applications for such service centres which meet the criteria outlined above. Where a route is already adequately served by existing petrol filling stations the creation of entirely new service centres will not normally be acceptable but proposals for the extension of facilities at existing filling stations may be considered. Such facilities will not be acceptable adjacent to every filling station - again a spacing of 12 miles between services is considered appropriate. Proposals for a grouping of services, by nature of their scale, can have a significantly greater impact on the rural environment. Proposals will therefore be carefully considered to ensure that they can be satisfactorily integrated into the local landscape. Design should be of a high standard and landscaping used to screen the development, particularly any large areas of car parking.
It is considered that on routes not forming part of the trunk roads network there will normally be no necessity to locate petrol filling stations or roadside services in the open countryside. Such facilities will normally be directed to existing settlements unless local circumstances indicate that such a policy would lead to undue hardship for the residents.
The upgrading of existing filling stations will normally be acceptable unless increased trade would create or exacerbate a road traffic hazard. Where a petrol filling station has been abandoned, the policy as set out above will be applied.
Most petrol filling stations now provide a wide range of retail goods in the associated shop. Many now function as the local shop or small supermarket serving the surrounding population. The important role of such retail provision is recognised. Such shops should however clearly remain secondary to the use as a petrol filling station. Proposals for larger units providing general retailing are not considered appropriate. Secondary uses such as vehicle sales or vehicle repairs will normally be unacceptable in countryside locations.
Where a new petrol filling station or roadside service centre is approved in a rural area conditions will normally be imposed to secure adequate parking and landscaping and to restrict the type of goods to be sold. The accumulation of signs will be resisted.
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