Derry Area Plan 2011
Recreation and Open Space: Proposals/Policies
The Department zones sufficient land to meet the recreational and open space needs of the District.
Although the City is particularly well endowed with open space in quantitative terms there remain inadequacies in the overall distribution of open space. This is particularly true in the inner city and in some of the new private sector housing areas where small informal open space areas are generally lacking.
A central theme of the City Council’s strategy is to provide a series of linkages enabling easy pedestrian and cycle movement between major recreational facilities. Although much has already been achieved, some critical linkages have still to be provided, for example, between Culmore Road and Ballyarnett Country Park and at Woodburn. The Department will endeavour to assist as appropriate through the Development Plan and Development Control processes. In allocating land for recreation and open space needs the Department has had regard to the National Playing Fields Association’s standard of 2.5 hectares per 1,000 population.
The Department will not permit proposals for built development in areas zoned as Recreation and Open Space on Maps 2, 3 and the Village Maps except where:
- the development is related to the existing use,
- the development provides leisure facilities, or
- any replacement buildings do not exceed the site coverage of the existing development.
The land zoned as recreation and open space comprises a number of activities and a variety of ownerships. Some of the areas are in passive use, some in active use whilst others encompass the grounds and buildings of schools, only a part of which consists of active open space. Other areas such as the City Cemetery are included because of their prominence and contribution to the setting and landscape within the City.
The policy is aimed primarily at protecting the open space character of these land uses. It allows for proposals for additions or extensions to existing schools or sports buildings. On sites where there are no buildings, proposals for sports facilities may be permitted provided the open nature of the site is not impaired. Large scale developments, for passive indoor leisure, such as multi-screen cinemas, will not be acceptable. Where an existing open space use ceases or is no longer required, this will not be sufficient justification in itself to permit development. The Department will need to be satisfied that the loss of the land to other development does not affect adversely the amenity of the locality nor lead to an under provision in the area.
The zoned areas encompass the major recreation and open space areas in the District. The Department recognises that there are many small incidental open spaces, particularly within housing areas that also make an important contribution to the overall provision. In assessing proposals for development of these areas, the Department will take into consideration the density of surrounding development, the overall provision in the area and the proximity of suitable alternative open spaces.
The Department will encourage both private and public bodies to provide appropriate recreational facilities along the River Foyle, particularly between Craigavon Bridge and Foyle Bridge.
In assessing proposals developers will be expected to pay attention to public access to the riverside by foot or cycle. It is widely recognised that Londonderry enjoys a splendid location on the River Foyle. It is important that the City takes full advantage of this riverside setting. There is an opportunity to provide pedestrian paths and cycleways on either bank, thus enhancing safe and easy access to the river. Proposals beyond the City Development Limit along the riverside will be subject to Green Belt and Area of High Scenic Value policies (see Section 3 and Section 4). The principle of making better use of the urban riverside is addressed in the Central Area section.
The Department will require as necessary the provision of manageable areas of incidental open space suitable for informal amenity and play use within new housing developments
It is important to ensure that adequate open space is made available within larger housing areas. Land has not been specifically zoned for this purpose so as not to restrict unduly the design of future housing layouts. However, provision of open space should be incorporated within the overall scheme at an early stage in the design. The Department in consultation with Derry City Council will assess all planning applications for housing estate development and determine whether such open space areas are required. In assessing the need for and size of such areas, the Department will take into consideration the location, the overall size and density of development proposed, together with garden size and the accessibility of the development to any nearby play spaces. To ensure the provision, future maintenance and management of the above areas, developers will normally be required to enter into Article 40 or other legal agreements to guarantee provision and maintenance either by the City Council, communal arrangements, management company or other appropriate means before planning permission is forthcoming (see also Plan Policy H2, Section 6).