Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Implementation: Development Plans

Implementation of the Strategy will be principally through the statutory development plan system plans produced in consultation with the District Councils and the general public which interpret at District and local level the broad principles contained in this Strategy. They will set out the detailed policies and specific proposals for the development and use of land in the rural area and will guide most day to day planning decisions. They are not prescriptive and should not be considered as such but rather provide an important framework for sound and effective development control within which appropriate development can take place.
Development plans in Northern Ireland comprise:
  • Area Plans - dealing with matters affecting the development and use of land for the whole or a substantive part of one or more District Council's area;
  • Local Plans - affecting part of one or more District Council's area; and
  • Subject Plans - based on consideration of a particular description of development or other use of land in the area to which it relates.
The principal vehicle for applying the Strategy to local areas will be the area plan.
The proposals and policies to be included in area plans will be identified only after a thorough planning assessment of the District and its communities, landscapes and environment. The proposals and policies will therefore be tailored to the specific circumstances and particular needs of each area. For example, in planning for the growth of settlements, limits of development will be defined and land will be zoned for the principal land uses; based on an assessment of any strategic, environmental and/or servicing constraints. A thorough assessment of the latter is important as developers may be expected to bear all or part of the costs involved in providing any new infrastructure required to facilitate the development of zoned land. Indeed, it may be necessary to phase the release of zoned land to enable developers to set priorities for infrastructure investment, and to encourage the orderly implementation of the plan provisions.
Some of the regional policies relate to specific issues of development control, for example, the policy for the control of development in the open countryside. The Department's policy published in 1978 was included within a number of area plans for information, together with the particular definitions of the areas to which the policy applied. The development control policies for the countryside set out in this Strategy come into effect immediately and supersede the previous expressions of policy in existing plans. Proposed plans will review the area definitions of where these policies apply and decisions on the location and extent of the policy areas will be based on a Countryside Assessment for the district. Particular importance is attached to consultations with District Councils in reviewing area definitions.
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