Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Strategic Policies: Policy SP 12 Rural Landscapes

Policy SP 12 Rural Landscapes
The provisions of PPS 21 will take precedence over this policy.
To protect rural landscapes from excessive or inappropriate development by the designation of Green Belts and Countryside Policy Areas.
Northern Ireland has a wide variety of landscapes of considerable quality and amenity. Man actively farms most of the countryside and he has shaped much of the landscape that we cherish. The landscapes of Northern Ireland are a rich resource of productive agricultural land, sites for nature conservation and indications of our cultural heritage. They provide for our recreational needs and are a considerable tourist asset. They contribute to the quality of life and create a landscapes from quality of environment that can attract investment. The Department has designated Areas of excessive or Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) to give national recognition to some of the most beautiful landscapes in Northern Ireland.
There are some areas of countryside with exceptional landscapes, such as the High Mournes, certain stretches of sea or lough shore, and certain views or vistas, where any development would Policy Areas. be likely to adversely affect their scenic qualities. There are certain landscapes which suffer from excessive development pressure related to their location close to cities and towns. There are other landscapes which are also subject to strong development pressure or which are vulnerable because of their limited capacity to absorb further development.
Planning policy must take account of the wide variety of landscapes and development pressures in the preparation of development plans. Countryside Assessments will be carried out to identify the particular characteristics of the landscapes within each District - see Policy DES 1. These assessments will identify development pressure and consider its impact on the landscape and local rural character. Where it is considered necessary to protect landscapes from excessive or inappropriate development, Green Belts will be designated around cities and towns and Countryside Policy Areas (CPAs) elsewhere - see Policy GB/CPA 1.
Green Belts are intended to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; to prevent neighbouring settlements from merging; to safeguard the surrounding countryside; to protect the setting of settlements; and particularly in the case of Belfast, to assist in urban regeneration. In some instances, the boundaries of existing Green Belts may need to be adjusted to include particular areas at risk from excessive development.
Other areas of countryside, under pressure or likely to come under pressure for development which would adversely affect the rural character of their landscapes, will be designated as Countryside Policy Areas including important river corridors. These may also include pockets of the countryside beyond the Green Belt, affected by commuter pressures associated with the Belfast Urban Area, where their rural character is threatened by suburban development. Within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there may be areas where the quality of landscape is identified as under threat from development pressure. Such parts of AONBs will be designated as Countryside Policy Areas or included within a Green Belt as appropriate.
The policy in Green Belts and Countryside Policy Areas is to minimise new development. Planning permission will be granted only where the need for the development is clearly established and it meets the planning and environmental criteria. In some Countryside Policy Areas a special policy will apply to protect unique landscapes and no development will be acceptable unless, exceptionally, it is required in the wider public interest.
The extent of all Green Belts and Countryside Policy Areas will be determined through the development plan process, involving the participation of the District Council and the rural community. The extent of each area will relate to the particular local circumstances.
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