Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy IC 16 Office Development

The office and business sector is of great importance to the Northern Ireland economy. It provides essential services for town and country. Employment in this sector has grown over the past decade - at a time when employment in some other sectors has declined. It is hoped that Northern Ireland will continue to benefit from the expansion of office and business development - including the further development of local services and the relocation of some office functions of national and international companies and government departments.
The Department will seek to encourage the growth of the office and business sector by ensuring that the planning system makes adequate provision for future office development. It is recognised that office technology has undergone considerable transformation which has permitted much greater freedom in the choice of location. Concentrations of offices in urban centres have, however, contributed much to the vitality of our town and city centres. It is planning policy to encourage a range of choice in terms of office location while ensuring the continued vitality and viability of town centres.
Policy IC 16 Office Development
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 4-Planning and Economic Development insofar as it applies to Class B1 of the 2015 Use Classes Order:
To facilitate office development in established town centres.
New office development should continue to be concentrated within established town centres in order to retain the vitality and viability of urban centres. Further office development can help reinforce the existing administrative and service functions of many settlements, as well as creating new employment in locations accessible to large sections of the population.
Large and medium sized office development will not normally be permitted outside established established town centres. Within larger towns, office areas within the town centre may be identified in the relevant area plan.
The use of vacant or underused upper floors in central areas may be appropriate locations for small office development. Proposals for office use at ground floor level are unlikely to be successful within the primary retail areas of an established centre.
The development of office development nodes outside existing town centres will be resisted.
Where there is a clear deficiency in the existing or potential supply of office floor space within a particular settlement and where there is little prospect of enlarging the central area, consideration may be given through the development plan process to the identification of land suitable for "office park" development. i.e. a cluster of small office buildings, in landscaped surroundings, with an accumulated total floor space appropriate to the scale of the settlement. Where such provision is considered necessary the Department will encourage the re-use of redundant urban land in preference to the allocation of greenfield sites.
Where there is a definite rather than a speculative proposal for a new office development which would make a substantial contribution to the economy of a particular town and no feasible site exists within the existing town centre, consideration may be given to an alternative site within the urban area. Normally a location on the periphery of the existing commercial core would be preferable. Any site to be acceptable will need to be compatible with existing land uses in the immediate area and meet normal planning and environmental standards.
In all cases the Department will require car parking provision - see Policy PSU 4.
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