Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Planning Strategy: The Strategy Housing
In the open countryside of the Greater Belfast Area there are strong development pressures, especially for single houses. These pressures extend beyond those areas presently subject to stricter planning control under Green Belt policy or other policy definitions. Progressively, areas of the countryside have been developed with pockets of essentially suburban development which threaten their rural character. The Strategy is to identify areas under threat and, through the development plan process, to designate them as either Green Belts or Countryside Policy Areas. Green Belts prevent the unrestricted sprawl of towns, safeguard the countryside and assist in urban regeneration. Countryside Policy Areas protect areas under development pressure and maintain their rural character. Within these areas there will be a presumption against unnecessary or inappropriate development. About 25% of the countryside is currently designated as Green Belts or Countryside Policy Areas.
Exceptionally, there may be an area presently designated as a Green Belt or Policy Area where there is little evidence of development pressure. In such an area the present designation will be reassessed.
In other parts of Northern Ireland such as Tyrone and Fermanagh, there is less pressure for development than in the Greater Belfast Area and in some settlements little development may have taken place in recent years. In those areas, it will be appropriate to consider generous limits of development, with environmental constraints, in order to encourage desirable development and accommodate the maximum flexibility and choice.
Even in those parts of Northern Ireland where there is less overall pressure for development, there will be a need for a Green Belt around the larger towns, and Countryside Policy Areas for places under threat from excessive development.
Elsewhere in the open countryside, planning applications will be assessed on design standards, normal planning criteria and environmental considerations.
Rural housing unfitness is a significant problem particularly in the west of the Province. The Strategy supports current housing initiatives designed to deal with this problem.