Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
The Context: Settlements
Northern Ireland has a characteristic pattern of many small settlements scattered throughout its countryside. The towns and villages act as service centres for those people living in the rural hinterland and as focal points for community activity. These settlements differ in historical development, social and economic function and physical form. Some of these have increasingly become commuter settlements for Belfast and other larger towns. In a number of cases the scale and form of new development is threatening the character of the settlement. Other settlements have suffered decline with little investment, leading to physical decay and dereliction.
In response, there have been a number of approaches to regeneration in recent years including action by community groups and District Councils; support from the International Fund for Ireland; and projects by the Department of the Environment in certain towns. There have been schemes for comprehensive development, pedestrianisation, environmental improvement and enhancement of conservation areas.