Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy REC 2 Outdoor Recreation

Policy REC 2 Outdoor Recreation
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 8-Open Space,Sport and Outdoor Recreation
Proposals for outdoor recreational uses which rely primarily on the use of open land will normally be approved in appropriate rural locations.
Some recreation needs, by their very nature cannot be accommodated in an urban area. The acceptability of countryside recreation activities depends upon the effect of the proposal on the environment including nature conservation and man-made heritage; the effect on the physical appearance of the land, the scale of any associated or ancillary built development, and access and parking arrangements.
The long term existence of countryside recreation activities depends upon the existence of finite 'natural' resources. It is important to ensure that recreational activities are generally sustainable in that they do not conflict with the overriding requirement to preserve and enhance the environment for future generations.
Government policy has sought to encourage diversification in the use of agricultural land. This has generated proposals for the change of use of open land to sports and leisure activities. Some of these recreational uses can be located on the urban edge where they can help to define the town and contribute to its setting and also assist environmental improvements in degraded areas.
Golf courses can provide for recreation, but they can also have a significant impact upon the countryside. They should be located and designed in harmony with the surrounding countryside and to conserve the natural environment. Each proposal should contain full details of the site and of the impact of the development proposed, including the effect on public rights of way. Any significant associated developments, such as hotels, will be considered on their merits. Special care will be taken in considering applications in or near Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Areas of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Green Belts, Countryside Policy Areas and historic landscapes. The Department proposes to produce a Development Control Advice Note on Golf Courses providing advice on the planning criteria to be applied when an application for this form of development is being considered.
The keeping and riding of horses for recreational purposes is increasingly popular in many parts of the countryside also. Outdoor particaptory recreational uses such as riding schools will normally be considered appropriate in areas subject to policy restraint. Activities which relate to spectator sports such as show jumping will normally be inappropriate due to the scale and nature of the activity generated - see Policy AG 3
Outdoor recreational uses such as motor car and motorcycle racing, including trials, can be a major cause of contention with noise as the principal planning objection. The General Development Order allows for the temporary use of land for such activities for a period of 14 days in total in any calendar year. Where there is a clear demand for noisy sports activities it is important to identify suitable sites which will minimise conflicts with other uses. Criteria for the suitability of sites for regular use will include the potential impact of the activity on the site itself, on neighbouring land and land-use and on nearby occupiers as well as any other relevant environmental considerations.
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