Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy TOU 1 Tourist Development

Policy TOU 1 Tourist Development
This policy has been superseded by PPS 16 Tourism
To give favourable consideration to proposals for tourist development which are appropriate in terms of nature, scale and location.
The outstanding quality and variety of the natural and built environment in Northern Ireland underlines the importance of sustainable tourism development which should not damage the resource or prejudice its future tourist value. Tourists can be attracted by a wide range of features areas of high scenic quality, heritage towns and cities, traditional seaside resorts, archaeological sites and monuments and historic buildings, gardens and landscaped parks and demesnes, and by our industrial heritage.
Through the development plan process the Department will seek to facilitate and protect the tourist industry. Where appropriate area plans will contain a tourist development strategy tailored to the needs and assets of the particular locality. Such a strategy may indicate:
  • how future tourist demand can best be accommodated;
  • the protection of key tourist assets;
  • the identification of potential growth areas and activities;
  • environmental considerations resulting from tourist development; and
  • the contribution of tourism to economic development, conservation and urban regeneration.
Within Green Belts and Countryside Policy Areas, proposals for tourist development will be balanced against the objectives of protecting these areas and keeping new development to a minimum. Appropriate tourist development proposals may be approved. Within some Countryside Policy Areas, there are particularly precious areas, for example, high mountain areas or certain stretches of coast, where no development would be acceptable. Such areas which should be left in their undeveloped state for the appreciation of both visitors and the local population, will normally be identified in area plans.
All proposals for tourist developments will be judged on their contribution to the tourism industry and the degree to which they contribute to the conservation of the natural, man-made and built heritage. Advice will be taken from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and other appropriate bodies. Such developments will need to be acceptable in terms of the scale and design of any new building, the level of activity and type of use, and integration into the local environment.
New tourist attractions which have regard to the rural character or heritage of the area, such as the opening of historic houses or gardens to the public, farm visits, museums and interpretation centres will generally be looked on sympathetically.
The Department recognises that in some scenic areas, where development must be strictly curtailed, there may be a need, exceptionally, for a "one-off" unique facility to meet a particular tourist need. Such unique proposals will be considered on their merits taking into account need, location, siting and an assessment of environmental impacts.
Where permission is granted for tourist development, the highest standards of design and landscaping will be required.
The promotion and enhancement of existing tourist attractions is seen as significant to the development of tourism in Northern Ireland. In assessing the acceptability of any proposal which seeks to consolidate and enhance existing attractions, the balance between the economic benefits and possible environmental costs will be an important consideration.
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