Planning Portal

Information Leaflet 7: Hierarchy of Planning Documents
The Regional Development Strategy

The Regional Development Strategy (RDS),‘Shaping Our Future’, is a strategy for the development of Northern Ireland up to 2035. It contains a Spatial Development Strategy and related Strategic Planning Guidelines which provide the planning context for:
  • Strengthening the competitiveness of the regional economy and tackling social and economic disadvantage;
  • Protecting and enhancing the physical, natural and man-made assets of the Region;
  • Housing, transport, air and water quality, energy and waste strategies, and for infrastructure providers and public service providers; and
  • Development plans and for guiding public and private investment decisions relating to land use.
As a strategic planning document the RDS has set the long-term direction for development plans and the Department must also take its contents into account in making decisions on individual planning applications. As regards its relationship to existing development plans the RDS itself advises that:
“The strategies and policies in the RDS are, of course, material considerations which may take precedence over the provisions of existing development plans. The weight to be afforded to the RDS, the development plan, and to any other material considerations will be a matter for judgement and may vary from case to case.”
Confirming the importance of the RDS all planning policy and plans made by the Department must now be “in general conformity” with the Strategy.
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