PPS 7: Quality Residential Environments
Policy Context: Introduction
1.1 House-building has made a significant impact in Northern Ireland in the last decade and is likely to continue to be the most widespread urban land-use change for many years to come. While much of this recent house-building has taken place on greenfield sites the Government in future wishes to promote a more sustainable form of development through a two-pronged approach of:
- encouraging compact urban forms; and
- promoting more housing within existing urban areas.
1.2 New residential development, wherever it occurs, can however threaten local character and identity. A cumulative loss of environmental quality has already become apparent as substantial housing areas, often devised with little appreciation of surrounding context, local character, distinctiveness or a sense of place, have taken shape around the fringes of our cities, towns and villages. Such developments have tended to be designed around the requirements of the private car and often lack adequate provision of open space or landscaping.
1.3 There has also been a tendency for residential development within urban areas to ignore its immediate setting and to be similarly dominated by the requirements of the car. In certain cases redevelopment schemes in established residential areas have also resulted in a level of intensification which has adversely affected local townscape character and identity.
1.4 The promotion of more housing in urban areas should not be allowed to result in town cramming or damage to areas of distinctive townscape character. In established residential areas the overriding objective will be to avoid any significant erosion of the local character and the environmental quality, amenity and privacy enjoyed by existing residents.
1.5 This Statement seeks to achieve residential developments, on both brownfield and greenfield sites, which promote quality and sustainability in their design and layout, are more in harmony with their townscape or landscape setting and which ultimately will make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of our settlements. In essence the Statement is about the creation of quality residential environments, as the housing we build today will not only help to shape our environment in the immediate future, it will also be a legacy determining the environmental quality of many areas throughout the 21st century.
1.6 The Statement, together with the advice contained in associated Supplementary Planning Guidance documents, complements existing Government policy and initiatives aimed at achieving attractive and sustainable places through better design. Through the Quality Initiative, the Regional Development Strategy, Planning Policy Statements and the Northern Ireland Transport Policy Statement the Government wishes to promote:
- more sustainable patterns of living, working and traveling;
- more effective integration between land-use planning and transport;
- the creation of attractive places in which people are happy to live, work and take their leisure.
In raising the overall quality of residential development the Department considers that the policies of the Statement will also help contribute to the achievement of other Government objectives, such as the promotion of Biodiversity.