Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy AG 4 Community Woodlands

Policy AG 4 Community Woodlands
The provisions of PPS 21 will take precedence over this policy.
To support the establishment of community woodlands and forests around centres of population throughout Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is sparsely wooded in comparison with other parts of the British Isles and Europe. Most of the existing forests have been established on hill ground, with the greatest concentration in Fermanagh and Tyrone. In recent years, however, there has been a tendency for new planting to move down to better quality agricultural land.
There are particular opportunities to enhance the environmental quality of many of our urban centres by the development of new areas of woodlands in or close to the settlements. Such woodlands can fulfil many functions - environmental enhancement, provision of recreational facilities, creation of new wildlife habitats, production of timber, employment creation and the creation of "green lungs" for the urban area. Woodlands are also considered to be an important element in farm diversification schemes.
The Department of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture are promoting the creation of "Community Woodlands" near our towns and cities for the benefit of the whole community. Grant aid is currently available to eligible schemes through the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture. The involvement and support of local communities is a vital element in the success of such initiatives. General locations may be identified in development plans where the provision of such woodlands would be acceptable, taking into account factors such as:
  • opportunities to restore degraded or derelict landscapes;
  • opportunities for significant environmental improvement including the improvement of the setting of settlements;
  • the need for additional urban recreational space;
  • opportunity to screen unsightly development; and
  • opportunities to enhance existing natural features, scenic routes or recreational and tourist facilities.
Planning permission is not required for the change of use of land to woodland. Buildings and other operations requisite for forestry purposes are permitted under the Planning (General Development) Order. Buildings for recreation, tourism, interpretive purposes or similar uses within an urban forest will require the grant of planning permission. Permission will normally be granted for such buildings unless the development would result in a loss of visual or residential amenity, give rise to traffic generation or road safety problems or adversely affect areas of nature conservation interest or the man-made heritage.
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