Planning Portal

Magherafelt Area Plan 2015
Strategic Plan Framework: Housing (Page 1 of 2)

Housing continues to represent the greatest pressure on the land resource throughout Northern Ireland and in Magherafelt District, as elsewhere, it is likely to continue to be the most widespread urban land-use change for many years to come.  Need for additional housing land is created by the formation of new households through natural increase in the population, net inward migration and the trend to smaller household sizes.  That need includes variety in dwelling size, type and tenure to meet the particular requirements of groups such as the elderly, people with limited incomes and people with disabilities.

Regional Policy Context

Prevailing regional planning policy for housing development is currently contained in the Regional Development Strategy (RDS), in relevant Planning Policy Statements (PPSs), and in the Rural Strategy.
The RDS has introduced a radical change in the manner by which the amount of land for housing development is to be allocated to, and distributed throughout, the District.
The RDS allocates 5,000 housing units to Magherafelt District as an adjusted “Housing Growth Indicator” for the period 31 December 1998 to 31 December 2015. It is the task of the Plan to distribute the growth allocated to the District in accordance with the strategic planning guidance in the RDS. In this context there are two RDS Strategic Planning Guidelines which are particularly important:
SPG-HOU 1 which is to manage housing growth in response to changing housing need.
This SPG sets down an evaluation framework which is intended as an aid for the Plan in the allocation of housing growth to the various settlements within the District. The framework consists of a series of tests and an assessment against each of these is made in respect of each of the towns and villages in the District. The results of this assessment are set out in the Population and Housing Technical Supplement.
SPG-HOU 4 which is to promote a drive to provide more housing within existing urban areas.
This SPG promotes compact urban forms and encourages more housing within existing urban areas. The regional target for the share of new housing growth to be accommodated within the existing urban areas of towns and cities of over 5,000 population has been set at 60%. The potential for achieving this regional target is determined through the development plan process by way of urban capacity studies.
Details of the housing allocation process, urban capacity studies and urban footprints are contained in the Population and Housing Technical Supplement.
The RDS (Policy SPG–HOU 6) encourages the development of balanced local communities through providing housing choice to meet different needs.
PPS 7 - Quality Residential Environments - sets out the Departments regional planning policies for achieving quality in the design and layout of new residential developments.  It embodies the Government’s commitment to sustainable development and the Quality Initiative.  The Statement contains criteria-based policies against which all proposals for new residential development including those on land zoned will be assessed, with the exception of single dwellings in the countryside. These will be assessed under policies contained in PPS21 - Sustainable Development in the Countryside.
Supplementary planning guidance for residential development is contained in “Creating Places - Achieving Quality in Residential Development”, published in May 2000.  It is the principle guide for use by developers in the design of all new housing areas.
In addition, the Department published in June 2002 a revised Development Control Advice Note 8 (DCAN) : Housing in Existing Urban Areas. This will be material to the determination of planning applications for small unit housing within existing urban areas.
The Department will require housing proposals to be designed and implemented in accordance with prevailing regional planning policies and with the relevant Plan Proposals, including the key site requirements set out for zoned land. The key site requirements set out the most important matters which developers will need to address in bringing forward proposals for specific sites.
Developers should however note that while the key site requirements for the development of zoned sites and Housing Land Use Policy Areas are set out in the Plan, the need for certain supplementary infrastructural works and/or mitigation measures necessary to facilitate the specific scale and form of development proposed may only be identified at planning application stage. An example may be as a result of an Environmental Impact Assessment or a Transport Assessment.
Many development sites will require the improvement of existing infrastructure and/or the provision of additional supplementary infrastructural works to enable the development to take place. The infrastructural works may include transport infrastructure, water and sewerage or land drainage. It is presently government policy that developers should bear the cost of works required to facilitate their development proposals.  This policy applies to both public and private sector developments. Where appropriate, planning agreements under Article 40 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 may be used to enable developers to proceed. Developers are urged to liaise early in the preparation of their proposals with the relevant Department, Agency or service provider.
Some development sites will require existing infrastructure, such as major water mains and sewers, and designated watercourses, to be safeguarded. This may include ensuring that such infrastructure is not built over and that necessary wayleave strips are retained to facilitate maintenance. It is the responsibility of the developer to liaise with the relevant Agencies in this regard.
Allocation HOU 1 Housing
A total of approximately 101 hectares of land is zoned for housing in the 2 towns, comprising:
  • Magherafelt:  77 hectares
  • Maghera:       24 hectares
Inside the designated settlement development limits for the villages approximately 52 hectares are identified in Housing Land Use Policy Areas.
In accordance with PPS 1 – General Principles, zoned land and Housing Land Use Policy Areas, along with the key site requirements which developers will be expected to meet, are set out and shown in Part 4 of the Plan. The zoning of land provides a basis for rational and consistent decisions on planning applications and provides a measure of certainty about which types of development will and will not be permitted.
Details of the housing allocation process are set out in the Population and Housing Technical Supplement.
Further to this allocation an allowance is made for 2,600 dwellings in the small settlements and countryside. The settlement development limits of the small settlements are designated to take account of this.
In view of the amount of committed land, the level of allocation to the towns and the need to ensure choice and an equitable distribution of housing land, it is considered inappropriate to phase zoned housing land.

Committed Housing

Committed sites include housing units built between 31 December 1998 and 1 August 2010 and those committed through planning approvals. The Department's Housing Land Availability Summary Reports provide details of the housing land availability together with the extent of housing development for settlements and is available from the Department's Planning NI website.

Windfall Sites

Windfall development is potential future housing development on land not designated for housing within the urban footprint of towns.  It can arise, for example, as a result of plot sub-division or property conversion and can contribute to the housing land supply over the Plan period. Accordingly, past trends and broad-based survey techniques have been used to estimate the potential level of windfall development that might occur during the Plan period and this has been taken into account in the housing allocation process for the towns.
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