PPS 6 (Addendum): Areas of Townscape Character
The Importance of Areas of Townscape Character
1.1 Many of our cities, towns and villages contain areas which exhibit a distinct character and intrinsic qualities, often based on their historic built form or layout. Some of these have merited statutory designation by the Department as Conservation Areas by virtue of their special architectural or historic interest. For others, recognition as Areas of Townscape Character (ATCs) has been judged to be more appropriate.
1.2 The importance of ATCs is recognised in Strategic Planning Guidance ENV 3.3 of the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland which advises on the need to:
"protect designated Areas of Townscape Character where the inherited mix and layout of buildings of different ages, styles and functions adds to the quality of life of the local community and keep under review the merits of extending Conservation Area status to townscapes of distinctive character."
1.3 In recognition of their importance, planning permission is now required for the demolition of an unlisted building in ATCs as a consequence of a Departmental Direction issued under Article 11(2)(f) of the Planning (NI) Order 1991.
1.4 In processing planning applications within ATCs, the key consideration for the Department will be to ensure that development proposals respect the appearance and qualities of each townscape area and maintain or enhance their distinctive character.
1.5 It is acknowledged, however, there may be exceptional cases where this consideration may be overridden in favour of development whith is desirable in the public interest.