Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015
District Proposals: Newtownabbey Countryside and Coast Background
The character of the countryside throughout the Borough, its landscapes, biodiversity and heritage are detailed in the Countryside Assessment Technical Supplement. This includes an analysis of development pressure which along with the Regional Development Strategy, the Rural Strategy and the NI Character Assessment 2000 has informed proposals for the designation of Green Belt in order to meet the strategic objectives of the policy.
Newtownabbey has a variety of attractive landscapes such as the Carrickfergus and Tardree upland pastures, Three and Six Mile Water valleys and slopes and the Belfast Lough shoreline. The Belfast Basalt and Carrickfergus Escarpment, which frame the built up area, are a significant natural asset, as is Carnmoney Hill, a prominent local landmark.
There are also many areas of international and national nature conservation importance in the Borough, most of which are located along the Lough Shore.
Aspects of the rural economy are outlined under Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in the Countryside and Coast section of Part 3, Volume 1 of the Plan.
Regional Policy Context
The overall aim of the RDS Spatial Development Strategy is to develop an attractive and prosperous rural area. This should be based on a balanced and integrated approach to the development of town, village and countryside, in order to sustain a strong and vibrant rural community, contributing to the overall well being of the region as a whole.
The RDS includes a number of Strategic Planning Guidelines that focus on conserving the natural environment, including the use of various designations to protect valued landscapes and the use of Green Belts to control development in areas under pressure. The RDS indicates the approximate extent of a strategic Green Belt around the BMA, with the precise delineation to be considered in the context of the relevant development plan. The objectives of Green Belt designation and the prevailing policies for the control of development within Green Belts are currently contained in the Rural Strategy.