Planning Portal

DCAN 8: Housing in Existing Urban Areas
Executive Summary

A Sustainable Approach

1. Current policy at the strategic level advocates a moresustainable approach to development by promoting morehousing in existing urban areas. The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) has set an ambitious target which aims to achieve 60% of housing in Northern Ireland on land within existing urban areas. The RDS states that
“the objective ‘on the ground’ must be to achieve a significant increase in ’brownfield’ housing in a manner which pays sensitive regard to the amenities enjoyed by those living beside proposed redevelopment and infill housing sites.”
2. It is therefore recognised that the drive to encourage additional housing in existing urban areas must not result in town cramming and a situation where unsympathetic development is forced into established residential areas. The overriding concern in such areas needs to be the maintenance of environmental quality, local character and the privacy of existing residents.

A Design-led Approach

3. A design-led approach to new housing in existing urban areas embraces the philosophy of working with context, and ‘fitting’ development in with the prevailing character and appearance of the neighbourhood.
4. The successful application of this approach is not dictated by standards, but involves a stronger appreciation of the surrounding context, and a better understanding of the urban design and architectural principles which underpin successful residential development. These strategic principles include location and urban structure, urban form, land use and community, and movement.
5. The following detailed design principles also need to be considered:
  • creating a safe environment;
  • clearly defining public and private space;
  • ensuring adequate privacy and daylight;
  • providing appropriate garden and amenity open space;
  • creating an attractive landscape setting;
  • responding to opportunities created by corner sites;
  • providing for enhanced public transport, walking
  • and cycling facilities; and
  • accommodating car parking and determining the appropriate level.

New Housing in Established Residential Areas

6. Proposals for housing in established residential areas need to illustrate that they have taken the above design principles into account, clearly demonstrating an appreciation of the context, and reinforcing local character.
This is particularly important in relation to:
  • building lines;
  • boundary treatments;
  • scale of built form; and
  • varied rooflines.

Types of Proposals for New Residential Development in Existing Urban Areas

7. New housing proposals in existing urban areas can take various forms including:
  • demolition and redevelopment;
  • backland development;
  • conversion/extension of houses; and
  • Living Over The Shop (LOTS).


8. A design-led approach to housing in existing urban areas will help to safeguard urban and environmental quality. However, it is essential that proposals for housing, particularly in established residential areas, demonstrate that they have fully appreciated the context, leading to a design which reinforces local characteristics, while preserving the residential amenity of the area and respecting the privacy of existing residents.
Get Adobe Reader software (link opens in a new browser window)