Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Down District: Downpatrick Environment and Conservation
Those features or combination of features that contribute to the environmental quality, integrity or character of these areas are listed below.
LLPA 1 Inch Abbey, Mound of Down, Down Cathedral, Quoile River and associated lands including Cotter Hill, Hollymount and Ballydug
- distinctive historic landscape to the west and north of the town surrounding a series of significant archaeological sites at Inch Abbey, Mound of Down and on Cathedral Hill;
- contains prominent features in the form of the listed Down Cathedral, the Motte and Bailey and the listed Quoile Bridge which provide striking entrance features and a sequence of attractive vistas on north and western approaches to town;
- nature conservation interest provided by part of the attractive open and flat Quoile marsh landscape, a key element in the setting of the town;
- important tree groups - extends to south west to include forested areas and designed parkland landscapes at Hollymount and around Ballydugan House which contribute to the landscape setting, provide an attractive approach to the town and contain a number of archaeological remains, listed mills and areas of national nature conservation significance;
- includes significant areas of woodland, including remnants of estate planting and Portulla Wood of nature conservation and landscape significance to the setting of the town;
- public footpaths and facilities along the Quoile River provide access to a diversity of wildlife and heritage interest for passive recreation; and
- series of distinctive localised hills behind Roughal Park, at Cotter Hill and Quoile Road also contribute to the setting of town and monuments.
Ballydugan House and surrounding lands within this LLPA are also designated as a Historic Park, Garden and Demesne (supplementary site) under Proposal COU 7 in Volume 1 of the Plan.
LLPA 2 Downshire Hospital Site
- listed building and its surrounding walled and visually attractive landscaped grounds which are the setting of the listed building; and
- landscaped grounds, especially important stands of trees, provide an attractive entrance to the town and contribute generally to visual quality and amenity of the local landscape.
LLPA 3 Hill including ridgeline (Flying Horse Road)
- localised hill - elevated slopes provide background setting to town and critical focus in long distance views from the north and west;
- includes archaeological monuments and their surroundings at Down Fort and Sampson’s Stone; and
- adjoining established pedestrian linkage over hill and area provides potential as an urban park.
LLPA 4 Vianstown House (planting)
- important tree groups are the remains of the historic designed setting of Vianstown House, bounded by wall and gateposts;
- tree groups are significant in the landscape and in views from Ballydugan Road and Inch; an
- provides an attractive southern edge to the town.
LLPA 5 Carmel Hill
- localised hill - prominent local landscape feature in views approaching the town from the south and from the town centre; and
- visually significant steep slopes topped by substantial trees around Carmel Hill House.
LLPA 6 Gallow’s Hill
- localised hill - elevated ground provides a setting to the town and is a prominent feature in local landscape overlooking the town centre and across to the Cathedral; and
- valuable as public open space area with paths and stone feature.
The Area of Significant Archaeological Interest has been identified, following consultation with the Historic Monuments Council, in the Quoile valley to the west of Downpatrick and includes Cathedral Hill, the Mound of Down and Inch Abbey.
Cathedral Hill, Mound of Down and Inch Abbey are landmark features of historical and archaeological significance. The importance of these features is related to their location beside the Quoile, and to their association with the original town of Down.
This combination of historical and archaeological features represents a cultural landscape of considerable antiquity and significance in terms of the local tradition and history of Downpatrick and of Ireland. The integrity of the area has survived despite changes in the shoreline of the Quoile estuary as a result of 18th century drainage which also allowed the town to grow. In addition to the archaeological and historic interest of the area, this unique landscape is important to wildlife and the visual setting of Downpatrick
The area identified reflects the area of pre historic, medieval and post medieval settlement where, on the basis of current knowledge, it is likely that archaeological remains will be encountered in the course of development.