Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Policy Framework: Retailing, Services & Offices
Newtownards, the primary commercial centre within Ards Borough, provides 33% of the shopping floorspace and is also well served by banks, offices and retail services. Ards Shopping Centre adds to the variety of retailing provided by independent traders.
Downpatrick is the main administrative and service centre for Down District and provides a wide range of retail facilities. Commercial floorspace in the town has recently expanded with the arrival of a number of new commercial developments including a new shopping centre at Ballydugan Road and other multi-national and regional stores.
Ballynahinch and Newcastle in Down District and Donaghadee and Comber in Ards Borough provide important commercial focal points and service centres for their rural hinterlands.
The villages throughout the Plan area provide a range and variety of local and specialist retail and service facilities for their immediate areas.
Regional Policy Context
The Spatial Development Strategy central to the Regional Development Strategy, (RDS), seeks to develop a vibrant rural Northern Ireland spread across a network of hubs/clusters based on the main towns or hubs which have a role as centres of employment and services for urban and rural communities. Newtownards and Downpatrick have been identified as main hubs
The RDS requires the promotion of town centre vitality and viability. The means of achieving it include establishing a multi-functional role for town centres as prime locations for retail, service, administrative, leisure and cultural activities, making them physically attractive and distinctive, encouraging a diversity of economic activity and strengthening their accessibility by public transport. Residential development is to be encouraged in town centres to add vitality and security.
The Department’s current regional policy for retailing and town centres is contained in Planning Policy Statement 5, (PPS 5): Retailing and Town Centres. For office development in town centres and elsewhere, current regional policy is contained in “A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland”. The Department has published consultation drafts proposed to replace the existing PPSs entitled PPS 4: Industry, Business and Distribution and PPS 5: Retailing, Town Centres and Commercial Leisure Developments. Work on PPS 4 is well advanced and it is anticipated that it will be published shortly in its final format containing the Department’s regional policies on industry, commerce and office development.
Relevant supplementary planning guidance is contained in the following series of Development Control Advice Notes (DCANs):
- DCAN 1 Amusement Arcades;
- DCAN 3 Bookmaking Offices;
- DCAN 4 Hot Food Bars;
- DCAN 5 Taxi Offices;
- DCAN 6 Restaurants and Cafes; and
- DCAN 7 Public Houses
Town Centre Health Checks were carried out as part of the Plan preparation process and in accordance with PPS 5.
Town Centres are designated for Newtownards, Comber and Donaghadee in Ards Borough, and for Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, and Newcastle in Down District and are identified on relevant Town Centre maps. The purpose in designating town centres is to provide the degree of control over change in their structures to ensure the maintenance and enhancement of their vitality and viability.
Primary Retail Cores are designated in Newtownards, Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Newcastle and are identified on the relevant Town Centre maps. The purpose in identifying a Primary Retail Core within a Town Centre is to provide control over development inside that area, to ensure the continuance of a compact, lively and attractive shopping environment, offering both choice and convenience. Some office uses, such as banking and professional services, are convenient in the shopping environment but their proliferation at street level within retail frontages can displace significant amounts of retail floorspace, reducing shopper activity and the commercial viability of the main shopping area.
Local Centres are designated at Stratheden Heights and Scrabo estate in Newtownards and Ballymote in Downpatrick and are identifed on the relevant settlement maps.
Development proposals within Town Centres, Primary Retail Cores and Local Centres will be assessed in the context of prevailing regional planning policy and other relevant policies contained in the relevant settlement sections in Volumes 2 and 3 of the Plan.