Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
The Context: Design
In the past, most buildings in the countryside were modest in scale, respected physical site constraints and used local building materials in simple characteristic ways. Nowadays, buildings tend to be larger and their impact on the landscape is greater. Replacement dwellings are frequently larger than the original structure and have a greater visual impact. Other types of development, such as certain agricultural buildings, do not require express planning permission, though their effect on the landscape can be considerable.
Modern dwellings have generally been built on the road frontage in typical suburban forms, alien to their rural setting. When dwellings are placed side by side they form ribbon development which is detrimental to the amenity of the countryside. In some instances, new developments have been accompanied by road widening and the provision of footpaths and street lighting, further affecting the rural character of the countryside.
Prominent dwellings have been imposed on the landscape through the power of modern machinery to reshape the landform. The architectural style, the materials and finishes and the associated site works are often inappropriate and overly dominant. Landscaping may be absent or unsuitable.
To try to maintain the distinct character of the open countryside, the Department has been actively encouraging high quality design by the application of its location, sitting and design standards introduced in 1987. These standards are revised and replaced by this Strategy. Design guides have been published for the Mourne and the Antrim Coast and Glens Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and will continue to be applied.