Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland

The requirement to prepare Development Plans and operate a Development Control system is established by law under the Planning Northern Ireland Order 1991, which corresponds to similar legislation in Great Britain and the European Community.
The Regional Physical Development Strategy 1975-95 established the Department's approach to development throughout Northern Ireland, including the rural area. It is appropriate to review that approach in the light of changing circumstances and the new challenges facing town and country - in particular the continuing change in the rural economy, with its implications for rural communities and the increasing pressures upon our environment and countryside.
The Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland covers all of the towns, villages and countryside of Northern Ireland outside Belfast (and adjoining built up areas) and Londonderry. It provides a comprehensive framework for the preparation of development plans for 19 individual District Council areas across the region. The Strategy establishes the objectives and the policies for land use and development appropriate to the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland and which need to be considered on a scale wider than the individual District Council Area. It provides a basis for coordinating decisions in both the public and the private sectors and sets out regional policies for the control of development, to ensure a consistent approach to rural planning matters.
The Strategy takes account of the Government's approach to the environment set out in the White Paper "This Common Inheritance". This is based on a set of principles, including sound stewardship of the nation's heritage and the creation of conditions for a healthy and growing economy. The recent publication by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Economic Development, entitled "Growing a Green Economy", amplifies some of these principles in the context of the environment and economy of Northern Ireland.
In producing the Strategy the Department has sought to bring the main planning issues before the public. The Department is grateful for the contribution of District Councils, other public bodies, rural communities, interest groups, Members of Parliament and individuals to the wide-ranging debate. It acknowledges the specific help provided by the Rural Development Council, the Rural Community Network and Community Technical Aid in the consultation process. This debate and the many comments received have greatly assisted and significantly influenced the Department in the preparation of the Strategy.
The document is in four main parts:
  1. Context
    This describes the social, economic and planning background to the Strategy and summarises the submissions made to the Department in response to the consultation process. From this the main planning issues are identified.
  2. The Strategy
    This sets out the Department's principal planning objectives and strategic policies for the rural area.
  3. Regional Planning Policies
    This sets out regional development control policies under a series of topic headings. Where appropriate, detailed planning practice is provided explaining how the policies will be applied.
  4. Implementation
    This sets out how the Strategy will be implemented and the procedures for monitoring, evaluation and review. The Department may in due course produce, after public consultation, further policy statements on regional planning issues.
The Strategy is supported by a section on key statistics and other appendices.
With the publication of the Planning Strategy the following policy documents are withdrawn:
  • The Regional Physical Development Strategy 1975-1995
  • The Policy for the Control of Development in Rural Areas 1978
  • The Policy for the Control of Development in Rural Areas - Practice Notes 1979
  • Planning - Development Control: Statement by David Mitchell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1981.
  • Location, Siting and Design in Rural Areas 1987
The Department may in due course produce, after public consultation, further policy statements on regional planning issues.
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