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Craigavon Area Plan 2010
Policy Framework:The Countryside

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The rural area of Craigavon Borough comprises a number of rich and diverse landscapes that have been moulded and modified by thousands of years of man's presence and a long established agricultural heritage. Whilst it is acknowledged that the countryside will continue to change over time, the Department also considers that it is necessary to operate strict planning controls within certain parts of the countryside, which are vulnerable to development pressure or are environmentally sensitive.

Regional Policy Context

The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) aims to develop an attractive and prosperous rural area, 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. This will be achieved by:
  • supporting the development of a strong, diversified and competitive rural economy served by the Regional Strategic Transportation Network;
  • developing a living and working countryside which recognises the unique rural character of the Region and contributes to a sense of belonging in local rural areas;
  • promoting the continuing renewal and revitalisation of towns and villages in Rural Northern Ireland;
  • improving the accessibility of the rural community to employment, services and regional amenities; and
  • managing and enhancing the natural and built heritage in rural areas.
The Department's regional planning policies that apply in the countryside of Craigavon Borough are currently set out in various Planning Policy Statements and A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland (The Rural Strategy). Policies for nature conservation and the archaeological and built heritage, and which address access considerations, shops, rural enterprises, and other industrial projects in the countryside, are set out in the PPSs. The Rural Strategy contains a range of policies for a number of development types, including agriculture, minerals, tourism development and houses in the countryside. In addition, there are specific policies for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Green Belts and Countryside Policy Areas. Development proposals within the rural remainder will be considered in accordance with prevailing regional planning policies currently set out in the Rural Strategy.
Supplementary design guidance is provided within A Design Guide for Rural Northern Ireland.
Plan Policy COU 1 Green Belt
A Green Belt is designated around the Craigavon Urban Area.
Development proposals within this Green Belt area will be restricted in accordance with the provisions of prevailing regional planning policy.
The strategic objectives of Green Belt designation are:
  • to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • to prevent neighbouring settlements from merging;
  • to safeguard the surrounding countryside;
  • to protect the setting of settlements; and
  • to assist in urban regeneration.
The Department considers it appropriate and necessary to maintain strict planning control in the area where development pressure is likely to be greatest. Consequently, a Green Belt is designated and the boundary is identified on Map No. 1 Craigavon Borough and the relevant settlement maps.
Plan Policy COU 2 Countryside Policy Areas
Countryside Policy Areas (CPAs) are designated in the following locations:
  • Lough Neagh Shore
  • Portmore Lough; and
  • Lough Gullion
Development proposals within these Countryside Policy Areas will be restricted in accordance with the provisions of prevailing regional planning policy.
The Department considers it necessary to protect the Lough Neagh, Portmore Lough and Lough Gullion shorelines and their environs.
The Department considers that further development on the Lough Neagh, Portmore Lough and Lough Gullion shorelines and their environs could erode the rural character and landscape quality of the areas. In addition, it is considered that the continued build-up of development closer to Lough Neagh would not only be damaging to the character and appearance of this area, but would also have significant adverse effects on the important nature conservation interests of the Lough and its shoreline.
Countryside Policy Areas (CPAs) are therefore designated in order to protect the amenity of the Lough Neagh, Portmore Lough and Lough Gullion shorelines and environs. The boundaries of these CPAs are identified on Map No.1 Craigavon Borough and relevant settlement maps.

Lough Neagh Shore

Lough Neagh provides the most sensitive landscape in the Craigavon Borough and its shoreline consists of a high quality rural landscape, characterised by an extensive and varied pattern of pasture, woodland and wetland and occasional smaller settlements. There are extensive areas of peatland which contain archaeological evidence of previous industry in the form of old peat workings.
The southern shoreline of the Lough consists of a low-lying marshy landscape with dispersed low drumlins. River channels and drainage patterns have a strong visual influence and the traditional road pattern mirrors that of the peat workings. The scattered traditional farmsteads and small Lough edge and drumlin villages have been supplemented by groups of new residential dwellings, which often overwhelm the traditional settlement pattern.
The mouth of the River Bann is particularly scenic, consisting of a flat tranquil landscape of pastures, peat and marsh. Pastures are mostly of a medium size and are edged by mature trees and common species are oak, beech and ash with downy birch, alder, sycamore and ash on wetter land. Open low-lying pastures edged by drains are found adjacent to the River Bann.
The rolling farmland, on the eastern shores, is mostly small in scale with overgrown hedgerows and numerous small holdings. There is a linear pattern of settlement, with some derelict farm buildings and tiny cottages along the ridgetop roads, as well as much new development. Settlements are concentrated along roads and are sited on rising land.

Portmore Lough

The shores of Portmore Lough consist of an area of pasture and fen, on a low-lying flat landscape. The landscape is characterised by numerous straight drainage channels with extensive areas of rushes, willow and marsh.
The traditional settlement pattern consists of scattered small holdings and tiny cottages along narrow, straight tracks which lead to dead ends on the edge of the fen. The geometric farmed pattern of the landscape breaks down progressively towards the scrubby fenland on the Lough margins.
Although there has been some ribbon development, the landscape retains a rather wild and remote character. The Lough margins are inaccessible and there are few views to Portmore Lough, as it is screened by dense fen carr.

Lough Gullion

The Lough Gullion shoreline is a low-lying flat landscape, comprising of small pockets of marsh and semi-improved pasture. Although fen and carr vegetation predominate, the substantial area of bog supports diverse flora and fauna with several rare species. The water's edge is inaccessible for much of the shoreline and the area remains relatively remote and isolated.
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