Planning Portal

Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Policy Framework: Housing (Page 3 of 3)

Policy HOU 3 Protected Housing Areas
Planning permission will not be granted for redevelopment or change of use within the protected housing areas in the Town Centres as identified on the relevant settlement town centre maps in Volumes 2 and 3 of the Plan.
Protected Housing Areas are designated in Newtownards, Comber and Donaghadee in Ards Borough, and Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Newcastle in Down District.
Town Centre housing can provide benefits, particularly for the elderly and young single people and to those without cars who wish to live within walking distance of the facilities of the Centre. Housing can bring benefits by providing continued life, activity and surveillance in the Centre outside normal commercial hours.
The Department will resist the spread of commercial uses into those areas which have a useful longer term residential life. They provide a valuable housing stock and are homes for established communities which contribute to the variety and vitality of life in the Town Centre.

Accommodation for the Travelling Community

Within the context of meeting local housing need and ensuring balanced communities it is important to deal with the needs of the travelling community; therefore, proposals for traveller’s accommodation that meet identified local need should be encouraged, subject to meeting prevailing regional policy, currently Planning Policy Statement 12 (PPS 12): Housing in Settlements. These proposals will be expected to clearly demonstrate how they meet identified local need and the planning authority will assess this in consultation with Northern Ireland Housing Executive. As with all development proposals, careful consideration will need to be given to the impact of the proposal on both surrounding land uses and the environment. Proposals that have a significant detrimental impact on surrounding land uses or the environment will be resisted.
The RDS, (SPG-HOU6) requires that consideration must be given to the distinctive needs of the travelling community. Policy HS 3 in Planning Policy Statement 12, (PPS 12): Housing in Settlements requires that where a need is identified and a development plan is under preparation, a site should be identified. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) has carried out a Housing Needs Assessment and there are no Traveller accommodation needs currently identified for the Plan area.
Future review of this assessment will be carried out by the NIHE on an annual rolling basis to reflect changes in need.

Social Housing

Social housing will be provided in accordance with the requirements of Planning Policy Statement 12, (PPS 12): Housing in Settlements, and draft PPS 21: Sustainable Development in the Countryside. This states that in locations where a demonstrable housing need is identified by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, planning permission for housing proposals will only be granted where provision is made for a suitable mix of house types and tenures to meet the range of market and social housing needs identified. The proportion of land or units to be set aside for social housing will be determined as part of the development control process.
Draft PPS 21 – Sustainable Development in the Countryside states that planning permission may be granted for a group of no more than 14 dwellings adjacent to or near a small settlement or within a Dispersed Rural Community to provide social and affordable housing to meet the needs of the rural community.
A detailed Housing Needs Assessment has been prepared by NIHE and will be subject to regular review. It will be material consideration when assessing the requirement for social housing provision. Implementation will be achieved through the application of Quality Initiative principles to specific development proposals and, where appropriate, through Planning Agreements to secure a proportion of social housing in major new developments.

Affordable Housing

Policy SPG- HOU 6.4 of the RDS places an onus on development plans to consider if there is a need for an exceptional housing land response to ensure a local supply of affordable housing and if local planning policies are required as a result of this. Lack of affordable housing was raised as an issue in the public participation process, which was followed by the preparation of the Plan.
Affordable housing is a regional issue, which might potentially affect the whole of Northern Ireland. Housing policies seeking to promote affordable housing are addressed in PPS 12: Housing in Settlements and Draft PPS 21: Sustainable Development in the Countryside.
There is currently no mechanism in place for the Plan to specifically address this issue in respect of its housing designations. The Plan focuses development at higher densities in urban areas, promotes mixed housing developments to accommodate balanced communities and promotes improved infrastructure and communications in the Plan area. Although these planning measures will not directly address affordability issues they can contribute positively.

Second Homes

Policy HOU 6.4 of the RDS places an onus on development plans to identify settlements and areas under pressure from second home development but offers no guidance on how this might be achieved.
Pressure from second home development was raised as an issue as part of the participation process leading to the formulation of Plan policies. While it may be the case that second homes is an issue for certain parts of the Plan area, it has not been possible to establish evidence of the exact scale of second home ownership as part of the Plan process. In addition, there is currently no mechanism in place to establish what percentage of planning approvals for new housing is intended for second homes ownership.  
The Department for Regional Development, (DRD) has confirmed that the uplifted HGI figure for each district includes an allowance for second homes.
Opposition to apartment development in areas most vulnerable to pressure for second homes forms a significant part of the second homes issue. Where considered appropriate, the Plan contains measures intended to protect those areas, which are likely to be under pressure from apartment type development issues, for example Donaghadee and Newcastle.
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