Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy IC 5 Economic Diversification

Policy IC 5 Economic Diversification
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 4-Planning and Economic Development
To Facilitate the diversification of the rural economy

Agricultural Diversification

The Department wishes to see the retention of rural communities and will therefore give favourable consideration to appropriate proposals for small-scale on-farm agricultural diversification schemes. The retention of farmers and their families on their holdings is important, not only to retain the social structure of rural areas, but also to maintain the countryside management role performed by the farming community, which is of such importance to society as a whole. The promotion of economic activity in rural areas must however be seen against the background of the need to conserve the quality of the Northern Ireland countryside for the benefit and enjoyment of the present and future generations.
In considering whether a particular diversification proposal is acceptable, the Department will seek to ensure the scale and nature of the activity is appropriate for the location and that the proposal can be satisfactorily integrated into the rural landscape.
The detailed planning practice relating to agricultural diversification is set out in Policy AG 3.

Rural Community Projects

In remote areas, a positive and flexible approach will be taken in relation to rural community projects being developed in response to initiatives for the regeneration of declining rural areas.Normally such projects should be located in or close to existing settlements.
For any proposal to be acceptable it will be necessary to demonstrate that:
  • the scale is appropriate for a rural location;
  • there is no significant potential either for pollution problems or nuisance to nearby residents; and
  • the proposal is acceptable in visual terms and in terms of access,parking and other environmental and planning considerations
In reaching decisions on such applications the Department will seek to balance employment generation and the need to protect the rural environment.
Where possible such projects should be contained within existing buildings or seek to make use of existing damaged landscapes.
Planning permission will normally be subject to conditions:
  • requiring landscaping of the site;
  • controlling external storage and car parking; and
  • controlling the scale of development.

Redundant Farm Buildings

Outside Green Belts and Countryside Policy Areas, favourable consideration may be given to the re-use of redundant farm buildings for appropriate small-scale business or industrial purposes. However, in order to prevent potential abuse of this policy, the Department will require to be satisfied on the following issues:
  • where the building is part of an agricultural holding, evidence that the building is no longer required for agricultural purposes. In such circumstances permitted development rights for new f m buildings in respect of that agricultural holding or unit may be withdrawn; and
  • that the building has had an existing genuine agricultural use for a reasonable period of time.
In addition the following will be of importance in reaching a decision on such a proposal
  • the use can be largely contained within the existing building;
  • the nature and scale of the proposed use including car parking, access, etc, are such that can be absorbed into the particular rural environment without undue loss to visual amenity;
  • any alterations to the existing building are small in scale and that their design and materials respect the architectural style of the existing building in particular and the rural environment in general;
  • adequate landscaping and screening is provided; and
  • the proposal is acceptable in terms of normal planning and environmental consideration.
Exceptionally in Green Belts or Countryside Policy Areas appropriate, small-scale business or industrial uses may be permitted in some locations where they meet an identified local need.

Other Redundant Rural Buildings

The countryside contains many non-agricultural buildings which have outlived their original purpose - for example, old mills, rural schools, churches or other community buildings. Unless alternative uses are found, they may suffer decay and dereliction leading to the despoilation of the rural landscape. Some however may be suitable with little external alteration for re-use for business, industrial or tourist purposes. The re-use of such properties can help stimulate new enterprises and provide much needed and acceptable accommodation for small-scale business and industries. Favourable consideration will normally be given to proposals for the adaptation and re-use of existing rural buildings, where the proposal meets the normal planning criteria and is of a scale and type which can be absorbed into the rural environment without leading to a significant loss of amenity.
The re-use of redundant buildings will be permitted where:
  • the building will require conversion or minor alterations rather than rebuilding or substantial reconstruction;
  • the use can be accommodated without any unacceptable change in the character of the building; and
  • the building is genuinely redundant in terms of the use for which it was constructed and/or it's last occupation
Previous Next
Get Adobe Reader software (link opens in a new browser window)