Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy PSU 10 Development at Risk

Policy PSU 10 Development at Risk
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 15 (Revised) - Planning and Flood Risk (insofar as it applies to flooding).
Development will not normally be permitted in areas known to be at serious risk from flooding, coastal erosion or land instability.
Problems resulting from flooding, erosion or land instability can result in danger to life, damage to property and wasteful expenditure of public and private resources on remedial works. As a result, new development in areas at risk will be kept to an absolute minimum.
It is important that these issues are considered at all stages of the planning process. Development plans may set out specific planning policies to control development on land subject to flood risk, coastal erosion or land instability. Major areas which are subject to specific problems may also be identified in the relevant development plan.

Coastal Development

Development adjacent to the coast can be at risk from inundation by the sea, erosion, land slips and rock falls. The policy in these areas will be to avoid putting further development at risk. New development will not normally be permitted in areas where expensive engineering works would be required either to protect development on land subject to erosion by the sea, or to defend land at risk from coastal flooding.
In areas of coastal erosion development will not normally be permitted in areas where such erosion is likely to occur during the lifetime of the building. There will be a presumption against development in areas of coastal land instability. Development will not be permitted in areas of flood risk where the existing sea defences, properly maintained, would not provide an acceptable standard of safety over the lifetime of the development or where new flood defences would have adverse impacts.

Land Instability

In the determination of planning applications, account will be taken of known hazards of land instability which would affect the development site or would as a result of development pose a potential threat to neighbouring areas.
Where such hazards are known the applicant will be advised at the earliest stage possible. Where an applicant is aware of such a hazard pre-application discussions would be helpful.
In those situations where land instability is of such a scale as to render a site potentially unsuitable for development or would have a major impact on surrounding areas, the developer will be required to carry out and submit a specialist investigation and assessment to:
  • determine the stability of the ground; and
  • identify any remedial measures required to deal with any instability.
In particular the report should highlight the most suitable forms of development, if any, and the measures required to stabilise the site and to protect buildings and/or structures.
Planning permission will normally be refused where:
  • instability problems cannot be overcome; or
  • there is insufficient information to resolve the issue as to whether development
    should proceed or not
Where planning permission is granted conditions may be imposed to:
  • specify measures to be carried out in order to overcome stability; and
  • require an adequate site investigation and assessment where there is insufficient information on points of detail and to require the development to have incorporated all measures shown to be necessary.
Warning to Developers/Landowners - It is important to note that where permission is granted it does not infer that the land is free from instability and the responsibility for safe development and secure occupancy of the site remains with the developer and/or landowner.


The Department of Agriculture's Watercourse Management Division is consulted on applications for development:
  • on land protected by sea embankments;
  • on land subject to flooding;
  • of a size which would significantly increase surface water run off (normally developments of more than five dwellings or comprising an area more than one hectare of land); and
  • which would have drainage implications -for example those affecting designated watercourses.
There will be a general presumption against development, including the raising of land, where such development:
  • would be at risk from flooding;
  • would be likely to increase the risk of flooding elsewhere; or
  • where the works required to alleviate flood risk would result in unacceptable damage to visual amenity, nature conservation interest or the man-made heritage.
Where planning permission is granted conditions may be imposed:
  • to require necessary alleviation works; and
  • to ensure adequate access to watercourses
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