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Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy PSU 5 Main Traffic Routes

POLICY PSU 5 Main Traffic Routes
This Policy has been superseded by: PPS 3-Access, Movement and Parking
The strategic road network will be protected by controlling accesses to main traffic routes.
There is a network of main roads in Northern Ireland which enables the free and safe movement of traffic over long distances. These routes contribute to economic prosperity by providing efficient links between all the main towns, the airports, sea ports and with the Republic of Ireland. The network of main roads has been improved over the years by the building of motorways, bypasses and ring roads.
If these main roads are to fulfil their function the consequences of allowing accesses which could either increase road accidents or create traffic congestion must be considered. It is therefore generally accepted that the number of junctions and accesses on these routes must be limited.
It is the Department's policy to restrict the formation of new accesses and to control development which would lead to an intensification of the use of an existing access on selected roads in Northern Ireland. (A field gate is not an access for the purposes of this policy).
The Department, therefore, has designated the roads on which this policy of access control will be exercised. The network will be known as the Protected Routes Network. Any alterations to the designated routes will be published.
The designated routes are:
  • primary roads;
  • routes between the principal town in each District and/or cross border;
  • routes to ports and airports; and
  • selected routes with high traffic flows (over 5000 vehicles per day in 1989).
These roads represent just over 6% of the total road network in Northern Ireland.

Policy for Motorways

The Department has a strict policy of not allowing any direct access from adjacent development (other than motorway service areas) to motorways, motorway interchanges and/or slip roads.

Policy for Rural Roads

This policy covers the inter-urban sections of the designated network outside development limits and is detailed as follows:-
Planning permission will not normally be granted for development involving direct access to these stretches of the Protected Routes Network or for the intensification of the use of existing accesses. However an access for the following types of development would qualify for approval unless it does not meet the Department's standards of sightlines radii, gradients etc:
  • Replacement Dwellings
    Where a building to be replaced would meet the criteria for development within a Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area - see Policy HOU 13. A condition requiring the improvement of the access may be imposed.
  • Farm Dwelling
    Where a farm dwelling, including a retirement dwelling, would meet the criteria for development within a Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area - see policies HOU 9 and HOU 10, and access to it can only be obtained from a protected route. Normally the existing access should be used and this should be improved if appropriate.
  • Dwelling Serving an Established Commercial or Industrial Enterprise
    Where a dwelling would meet the criteria for development within a Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area - see Policy HOU 11, and access can only be obtained from a protected route.
  • Other Categories of Development
    In particular cases approval may be justified for other developments which would meet the criteria for development within a Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area.

Policy for Roads in Urban Areas and Settlements

In the settlements as defined by development limits in the relevant Area Plans the Department will assess the access requirements of development areas in association with other planning criteria. The main factors which will be taken into consideration include:
  • the nature and scale of development;
  • its contribution to urban/village regeneration, environmental improvement and/or housing need;
  • the standard of the existing road network;
  • the location and number of existing accesses; and
  • the availability of practical alternative access.

Protected Routes in Towns

In considering proposals for new development m areas zoned in area plans the Department will seek to minimise the number of new accesses on to the protected routes. Access to development areas should be taken from the minor road network where this is practicable and m appropriate circumstances the Department may require developers to contribute to the improvement of a minor road or its junction with the protected route.
In the case of those designated routes designed to an appropriate standard as ring roads, through passes or bypasses, planning permission will not normally be granted for development involving direct access or for the intensification of the use of existing accesses.
When designated roads are already subject to numerous direct accesses in existing urban areas the Department will generally seek to promote infill development by linking to a limited number of development accesses serving contiguous areas of land. Individual accesses will only be allowed if building plots would otherwise be sterilised.

Villages

The Department will seek to minimise the number of new accesses to a protected route within a village in the interests of road safety and the free movement of traffic. Development accesses will be directed to the minor road network where this is practicable. Exceptionally an access or intensification of use may be approved if an individual plot would otherwise be sterilised.

Other Rural Settlements

Generally it will not be acceptable for reasons of road safety, traffic management and environmental considerations to allow additional accesses to a protected route through other rural settlements. Exceptionally an access or intensification of use may be approved if a building plot would be otherwise sterilised. As far as possible, however, accesses shall be directed to the minor road network.

Planning Applications

All applications for planning permission for development involving an access or the intensification of the use of an existing access to the protected routes will be determined on their particular merit in light of the above policy considerations. Standards required for sightline splays, radii, gradients and junction spacings will vary depending on the speed of traffic on the protected route and the scale of development proposed. The need for merging and diverging lanes and other road improvements will be considered in conjunction with the Department's standards for design of major and minor road junctions.
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