Planning Portal

PPS 3: Access, Movement and Parking
Policy AMP 2

Policy AMP 2 Access to Public Roads
Planning permission will only be granted for a development proposal involving direct access, or the intensification of the use of an existing access, onto a public road where:
  1. such access will not prejudice road safety or significantly inconvenience the flow of traffic; and
  2. the proposal does not conflict with Policy AMP 3 Access to Protected Routes.
The acceptability of access arrangements, including the number of access points onto the public road, will be assessed against the Departments published guidance. Consideration will also be given to the following factors:
  • the nature and scale of the development;
  • the character of existing development;
  • the contribution of the proposal to the creation of a quality environment, including the potential for urban / village regeneration and environmental improvement;
  • the location and number of existing accesses; and
  • the standard of the existing road network together with the speed and volume of traffic using the adjacent public road and any expected increase.

Justification and Amplification

5.12 The planning system has an important role to play in promoting road safety and ensuring the efficient use of the public road network. New development will often affect the public road network surrounding it, and it is part of the function of planning control to seek to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts. In assessing development proposals the Department will therefore seek to ensure that access arrangements for development proposals are safe and will not unduly interfere with the movement of traffic. In addition the Department considers it essential to restrict access to Protected Routes in order to facilitate the efficient and safe movement of traffic over long distances (see Policy AMP 3 Access to Protected Routes).

New Access

5.13 New development will generally require vehicular access4 to a public road, either in the form of a new access or by the use of an existing one. A properly located and well-designed access is essential for the safety and convenience of all road users – those proceeding on the public road, including cyclists and pedestrians, as well as those using the access.
5.14 The proximity of the proposed access to junctions, other existing accesses and the total number of accesses onto a given stretch of road are relevant matters in the assessment of traffic hazards. The combining of individual access points along a road will be encouraged as this can help to improve road safety.
5.15 Whatever the type of access, good visibility is also essential for the safety and convenience of all road users. The Department will expect applicants to have control over the land required to provide the requisite visibility splays and ensure that they are retained free of any obstruction. A condition will normally be imposed requiring that no development shall take place until the works required to provide access, including visibility splays, have been carried out.
5.16 Development Control Advice Note 15 ‘Vehicular Access Standards5’ sets out the current standards for sightlines, radii, gradient etc. that will be applied to both new access and intensified use of an existing vehicular access onto existing public roads. DCAN 15 also includes guidance on special requirements for access onto a Trunk Road. The current standards for access within new residential developments are set out in the ‘Creating Places’ design guide6.
5.17 It is recognised that it may not always be practicable to comply fully with the appropriate visibility standards. Such standards, like all material considerations, need to be assessed in light of the particular circumstances of the individual case. Exceptionally a relaxation in standards may be acceptable in order to secure other important planning objectives. Visibility standards, however, will not be reduced to such a level that danger is likely to be caused.

Use of an Existing Access

5.18 In circumstances where an existing access is available to facilitate development proposals, the Department will generally expect this to be used, unless there is an opportunity to provide a more acceptable access arrangement, having regard to both road safety and local amenity considerations. Where an existing access is to be used, but is sub-standard, a condition requiring its improvement prior to the commencement of the development will normally be imposed on a grant of planning permission. In cases where a new access is considered acceptable in preference to the intensified use of an existing access a condition requiring the existing access to be closed may be imposed.

Access for Rural Replacement Dwellings

5.19 In relation to development proposals for a replacement dwelling7 in the countryside, where an existing access is available but this does not meet the current standards, the Department would encourage applicants to consider the potential for incorporating improvements to the access in the interests of road safety.

Access Within Settlement Limits

5.20 One of the key themes that underlies the Department’s approach to planning is quality development, in particular, the need to secure a higher level of design, layout and landscaping for residential development. Planning Policy Statement 7 ‘Quality Residential Environments’ recognises that the design of many housing developments in recent years has tended to be dominated by roads considerations. Properties have often backed onto nearby roads or other public areas and created unsightly views. This has, in part, resulted from the practice of minimising the number of access points onto the public road.
5.21 Minimising access onto the public road needs to be balanced with the greater emphasis now placed on the overall quality of design and sustainability of development. The residential design guide ‘Creating Places’ advocates the creation of permeable layouts with an interconnected network of carriageways and a number of access points. This will not only help improve quality, but it can also enhance safety by ensuring that vehicle flows are well distributed and low in most places by creating the shortest practicable routes to destinations. It will also provide alternative means of access for the emergency services.
5.22 Accordingly the Department considers that greater attention should in future be given to the potential adverse impact that minimising the number of vehicular accesses on to the public road can have on the visual and environmental qualities of a development scheme.

Access for Emergency Services

5.23 The suitability of access arrangements for the fire service and ambulance service can be an important consideration in the layout and design of development, particularly in relation to backland development or sites with restricted access. Designers should therefore consider the needs of the emergency services early in the design process and may be required to submit information to accompany their proposals indicating how the matter has been addressed.
4 For the purposes of the policies in this PPS, a field gate is not an access.
5 Development Control Advice Note 15 ‘Vehicular Access Standards’, 2nd Edition, August 1999.
6‘Creating Places: Achieving Quality in Residential Developments’, DOE/DRD, May2000.
7 Proposals for replacement dwellings in the countryside are currently assessed against Policy HOU 13 of the Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland.
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