Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy DES 6 Rural Character

Policy DES 6 Rural Character
The provisions of PPS 21 will take precedence over this policy.
To ensure that the cumulative effects of new buildings in the countryside do not cause detrimental changes to the overall character of rural areas.
New buildings should be sympathetic and not appear incongruous with their surroundings. A carefully sited and well designed building, which respects the local landform and pattern of vegetation, not only looks more pleasing but will be in harmony with its immediate and wider surroundings and integrated into the landscape. One building by itself may meet required planning and environmental standards and have little impact on an area. However, the cumulative impact of a number of buildings could be significant and lead to the gradual erosion of the rural character of that area.
Parts of the countryside have already changed. The problem is a product of many houses being built in recent years, and some of what has been built being insensitive in design, lacking in character and not integrated into the landscape. Without a change in policy this loss of rural character will continue. Therefore, the planning policy will be to resist development which would cause a detrimental change to the rural character of an area of countryside.
Where a rural landscape is threatened by development pressure, the locality will be designated through the development plan system as a Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area.
Change of rural character will be used as a reason for refusal, if:
  • the proposed dwelling is unduly prominent, or
  • it would create an adverse impact on an area of countryside when added to the existing buildings in that area.
Each application will be treated on its merits and the threshold of planning approvals will depend on local circumstances. These will include the number of existing buildings in the area; the potential number if all valid planning approvals were implemented; the vulnerability of the landscape as defined in the development plan Countryside Assessments; and the scale and design of the proposed development.
The scale and design of a building should be sympathetic and not appear incongruous with its surroundings. There will be circumstances where a different design solution could make a development proposal acceptable where otherwise it would cause a detrimental change to the rural character of an area and be refused.
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