Introduction

10.1.1The historic environment of Mid and East Antrim is a finite, fragile and non-renewable asset which showcases our unique identity and promotes our pride of place. Mid and East Antrim has many historic assets contained within a compact geographic area which span across a broad range of styles, functions and periods. Together, they offer considerable potential to deliver tangible benefits to society and the economy.

10.1.2Our historic environment includes buildings of architectural significance, historic monuments, archaeological and industrial sites. There are 157 scheduled monuments, five State Care Monuments, 18 Historic Parks, 600 Listed Buildings and one Area of Special Archaeological Interest at Knockdhu. In addition, there are five Conservation Areas and five Areas of Townscape Character which enhance the distinct character and quality of the host settlements.

10.1.3The protection, conservation and enhancement of our heritage assets also supports our Community Plan themes of promoting ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’; ‘Increasing Awareness’ and ‘Positive Attitudes’ towards ‘Our Environment’; and ‘growing sustainable tourism’. Heritage assets are important for many reasons. They make significant contributions to the distinctiveness of places by reinforcing their character and identity. This, in turn has a positive influence on the quality of life enjoyed by communities and enhances the appeal of these places for tourists and visitors. A vibrant local historic environment attracts visitors and businesses to places, provides jobs and opportunities to acquire skills, and (as in Carrickfergus historic core) can be a catalyst for regeneration. In summary, positive efforts to maintain or enhance the quality of our historic environment will benefit everyone who lives, works or visits Mid and East Antrim.

10.1.4Where the historic environment provides the spatial context for new development, it is imperative for successful development and place making, that the new respects and responds positively to the old. However, in some conservation areas, it has become apparent that the cumulative effects of small-scale change, including unsympathetic signage, are having a noticeable and detrimental impact on their special architectural and historic character. This applies particularly to shopfronts, signage and unsympathetic alterations to non-listed buildings. In the case of unlisted buildings within conservation areas, prevailing legislation allows a range of works to be carried out without the need to apply for planning permission. Many of these small scale ‘permitted development’ works such as the replacement of traditional timber or metal windows with plastic windows in modern styles, can over time, significantly harm the character and appearance of historic buildings and areas. This is a significant challenge in several historic areas within Mid and East Antrim.

10.1.5In regard to the historic environment, the SPPS sets out three regional strategic objectives (paragraph 6.4) and also indicates that the development management system is the primary mechanism for the implementation of the regional strategic policy. The SPPS also sets out a number of guidelines for policy development though the LDP system (paragraph 6.29), which are intended to secure the regional strategic objectives.

Policy Aims

10.1.6The strategic approach adopted within the LDP with regard to the historic environment is set out in our policy aims below. These policy aims fully embrace the above-mentioned regional strategic objectives and guidelines for LDPs as set out in the SPPS and build on the key considerations informing the preferred options as detailed in our POP in relation to Archaeology and Built Heritage.

  • To protect, conserve, and where possible enhance the historic character of the Borough;
  • To manage change in such a way that preserves, maintains and where possible enhances the heritage assets for the enjoyment of current and future generations;
  • To promote new high quality and innovative architecture and built forms which are sympathetic to the historic character and responds to and reinforces locally distinctive patterns of development, townscape and landscape;
  • To safeguard and protect archaeological sites, monuments, objects and their settings and any additional newly discovered archaeological remains; and
  • To exploit the tourism and educational value of Mid and East Antrim’s unique heritage and historic environment, in a sensitive and sustainable manner.

Implementation

10.1.7The policy aims will be delivered primarily through the strategic policies set out in the remainder of this section.

10.1.8Given the challenges previously referred to, particularly in some Conservation Areas, Council may consider the imposition of Article 4 Directions52 at the Local Polices stage to restrict the range of permitted development rights within a particular area. Essentially, this means that, if someone wishes to carry out works that would normally be considered permitted development, they would need to obtain planning permission first.

10.1.9Introducing an Article 4 Direction gives Council more control over what works take place and provides additional protection of the area’s character, appearance, and built heritage. This does not mean that such works cannot be carried out or would be refused, but it does mean that careful thought must be given to make sure any changes are appropriate and sympathetic for both the property and the wider area.

Policy HE1 Archaeological Remains and their Settings

The Preservation of Archaeological Remains of Regional Importance and their Settings

There is a presumption in favour of the physical preservation in situ of archaeological remains of regional importance and their settings. These comprise Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest, monuments in State Care, scheduled monuments and other sites and monuments that would merit scheduling. Development which would adversely affect such sites of regional importance or the integrity of their settings will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances.

A development proposal which would adversely affect the integrity of these assets and their settings will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where it is determined to be of overriding regional importance and there are no alternative solutions.

The Protection of Archaeological Remains of Local Importance and their Settings

Development proposals which would adversely affect locally important archaeological sites or monuments or their settings will only be permitted where it is clearly demonstrated that the need for the proposed development outweighs the value of the remains and/or their settings.

Archaeological Assessment and Evaluation

Council shall seek all necessary information from applicants particularly in cases where the impact of a development proposal on archaeological remains is unclear, or the relative significance of such remains is uncertain. Should an applicant fail to provide a suitable assessment or evaluation on request, Council shall adopt a precautionary approach and refuse planning permission.

Archaeological Mitigation

In exceptional circumstances where planning permission is granted for development which will affect sites known or likely to contain archaeological remains. Conditions will be attached to ensure that appropriate measures are in place for the identification and mitigation of the archaeological impacts of the development, including where appropriate the completion of a licensed excavation53, recording examination and archiving of remains before development commences.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.10Mid and East Antrim has a rich archaeological heritage which comprises of both above and below ground remains, and standing structures. Archaeological remains are a limited, finite and non-renewable resource, often highly fragile and vulnerable to damage or destruction through insensitive development. Protecting sites and monuments and their settings is therefore the means of maximising survival of information about our past.

10.1.11Development proposals impacting on archaeological remains and their settings will be assessed on the individual merits of each case, taking into account the intrinsic importance of the archaeological remains in question, their potential use for amenity, tourism and education purposes and weighing these against other factors, including the need for and the benefits of the proposed development.

The Preservation of Archaeological Remains of Regional Importance and their Settings

10.1.12State Care and scheduled monuments and Areas of Significant Archaeological Significance (ASAIs) together represent those archaeological assets which are of the greatest importance. Development that would adversely impact upon archaeological remains of regional importance, or the integrity of their settings will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances, where there is no practical alternative site and where there is a regionally significant overriding need for development. Not all important archaeological remains meriting preservation are yet scheduled. Accordingly, in assessing development proposals affecting sites which would merit scheduling Council will proceed as for State Care and scheduled monuments and only permit development in exceptional circumstances.

10.1.13Monuments in State Care are protected by legislation54 and managed as a public asset. In assessing proposals for development in the vicinity of these monuments particular attention will be given to the impact of the proposal on:

  • the critical views of, and from the site or monument;
  • the access and public approaches to the site or monument; and
  • the understanding and enjoyment of the site or monument by visitors.

10.1.14Where a planning application is submitted which involves works affecting a scheduled monument the applicant is advised to submit an application for Scheduled Monument Consent to Department for Communities (DfC) – Historic Environment Division (HED). As part of any related planning application written evidence must be provided to confirm that it has been formally submitted. Confirmation that Scheduled Monument Consent has been granted may also be required prior to our final determination of the related planning application.

10.1.15The only ASAI in Mid and East Antrim is designated at Knockdhu, an upland area within the Antrim Coast and Glens AONB (refer to District Proposals Maps). This unique historic upland landscape contains a wide array of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites and monuments. The landscape of the ASAI is highly vulnerable to insensitive change. In particular, the erection of masts, pylons, wind turbines and associated infrastructure, or other large-scale development including large agricultural buildings or quarrying and mining activities are likely to adversely impact on the distinctive landscape character and the historic environment assets, including the archaeological sites and monuments. Accordingly, this regionally significant archaeological site is protected under this policy and through other LDP strategic designations and associated policies.55

The Protection of Archaeological Remains of Local Importance and their Settings

10.1.16While the vast majority of archaeological sites and monuments in Northern Ireland are not scheduled, they are all capable of providing evidence about our past. Many are archaeologically important in the local context or valued by the community and therefore require safeguarding through the planning process. In assessing the local significance of archaeological sites and monuments, account will be taken of the following indicators:

  • Appearance: distinctive features in the landscape/townscape or local landmarks.
  • Quality: well-preserved or extensive buried remains.
  • Folklore/historical interest: association with a person or event in local tradition or legend.
  • Group value: one of a number of locally important sites.
  • Rarity: a locally rare example.

This will enable a balanced judgment to be reached on a case by case basis.

10.1.17In cases where development proposals affect archaeological sites and monuments or their settings which are not of regional or local importance regard will be given to the desirability of preserving such remains and their settings.

Archaeological Assessment and Evaluation

10.1.18Prospective developers need to take into account archaeological considerations from the outset. The needs of archaeology and development can often be reconciled, and potential conflict avoided or much reduced, if developers discuss their proposals with Council at an early stage. Flexibility is much more difficult and expensive to achieve once detailed designs have been drawn up and finance arranged.

10.1.19It is therefore in the developers own interests to establish whether a site is known or likely to contain archaeological remains as part of their assessment of its development potential prior to submitting a planning application. The first step will be to consult the Northern Ireland Monuments and Buildings Record which contains database information on all known archaeological sites and monuments. Informal discussions with HED at this time will help raise awareness of the archaeological sensitivity of a site. In certain cases, following submission of a planning application the Council may request further information in the form of an archaeological assessment or an archaeological evaluation.

10.1.20Archaeological Evaluations help to define the importance, character and extent of the archaeological remains that may exist in the area of a proposed development, and thus indicate the weight which should be attached to their preservation. They may also provide information useful for identifying potential options for minimising or avoiding damage.

10.1.21Areas of Archaeological Potential (AAP) will be highlighted, for the benefit of prospective developers in the Local Policies Plan. These are areas within certain settlements, where on the basis of current knowledge, it is likely that archaeological remains will be encountered in the course of continuing development and change.

Archaeological Mitigation

10.1.22In some circumstances it will be possible to permit development proposals which affect archaeological remains to proceed, provided appropriate archaeological mitigation measures are in place which preserve the remains in the final development or ensure excavation and recording prior to destruction. A mitigation measure may for example require design alterations to a development scheme to avoid disturbing the remains or to minimise the potential damage. Excavation and recording of remains is regarded as a second best option to physical preservation. There will however be occasions, particularly where archaeological remains of lesser importance are involved, when the Council may decide that the significance of the remains is not sufficient when weighed against all other material considerations, to justify their physical preservation in situ, and that the development should proceed. In such cases developers will be required to prepare and carry out a programme of archaeological works using professional archaeologists and working to a brief prepared by the Historic Environment Division.

Policy HE2 Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes

Planning permission will only be granted for development proposals within historic parks, gardens or demesnes, or which may impact upon their settings, where it can be demonstrated that all of the following criteria are met:

  1. the development would not lead to the loss of, or cause harm to, the overall character, principal components or setting of the Historic Park, Garden or Demesne, including landscaping and distinct boundary features;
  2. the development would not adversely impact on the overall quality, understanding, experience and enjoyment of the Historic Park, Garden or Demesne; and
  3. the development would not impair the archaeological, historical or botanical interest of the site.

In addition, proposals must meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.

If permission is granted for a development proposal which would result in the loss of any distinctive features, a planning condition will be applied which will require developers to record these features prior to the commencement of development, working to a brief agreed by the Council in liaison with the other appropriate agencies.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.23Our historic parks, gardens and demesnes are designed landscapes. They provide for enjoyment, relaxation and learning and contribute to the wellbeing of our communities as well as having a significant role to play in tourism. They also make an important contribution to the quality and character of our local landscapes. However, they are also a fragile and finite resource which can become vulnerable to the pressures of development if not adequately protected.

10.1.24The Register of Parks, Gardens and Demesnes of Special Historic Interest was established by Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Committee on behalf of NIEA (now DfC HED) to identify those planned landscapes considered to be of exceptional regional importance. In Mid and East Antrim 11 sites have been included on the ‘Main Register56’ with a further seven sites having been identified as having a high level of interest and designated as 'Supplementary' sites. Further details are contained in Technical Supplement 13 Built Environment and Creating Places.

10.1.25This planning policy seeks to secure the protection, conservation and, where possible, the enhancement of the heritage features associated with these historic parks, gardens and demesnes and where considered appropriate this policy will also be applied to the 'Supplementary' sites. In assessing proposals for development in or adjacent to a designated historic park, garden or demesne particular attention will be paid to the impact of the proposal on:

  • the archaeological, historical or botanical interest of the site;
  • the site’s original design concept, overall quality and setting;
  • trees and woodland and the site’s contribution to local landscape character;
  • any buildings or features of character within the site including boundary walls, pathways, garden terraces or water features; and
  • planned historic views of or from the site or buildings within it.

Policy HE3 Listed Buildings - Change of Use or Extension/Alteration or Conversion of a Listed Building

All works to a listed building must ensure that the essential character and special architectural and/or historic interest is protected, conserved, and where possible, enhanced.

Change of Use of a Listed Building

Subject to the above, planning permission will be granted for the change of use of a listed building where this secures its upkeep and survival. The new use must be compatible with the fabric, setting and character of the building.

In addition, proposals must meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.

Extension/Alteration or Conversion of a Listed Building

Planning permission will only be granted for proposals for the extension/alteration or conversion of a listed building where all the following criteria are met:

  1. the essential character and special architectural and/or historic interest of the building(s), and its features of special interest remain intact and unimpaired;
  2. the works proposed make use of traditional and/or sympathetic building materials and details which match or are in keeping with those found on the existing building(s);
  3. in the case of extensions, they shall be subservient to the existing building(s) with regard to height, scale, form, proportion and massing; and
  4. architectural details (e.g. doors, gutters, windows, internal joinery) match or are in keeping with the existing building.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.26Listed buildings are identified and protected by DfC as buildings or structures of special architectural or historic interest. There are approximately 600 listed buildings in Mid and East Antrim. This policy allows for the sympathetic change of use or alteration of such buildings with the aim of securing their upkeep and retention.

10.1.27The unnecessary replacement of historic fabric, no matter how carefully the work is carried out, will have an adverse effect on the character, seriously diminish its authenticity and will significantly reduce its value as a source of historical information. Replacing original or earlier elements of a building with modern replicas only serves to falsify the historical evidence of the building. Listed buildings vary greatly in the extent to which they can accommodate change without loss of special interest or character. Some may be sensitive even to slight alterations, whereas others are more resilient to change.

10.1.28Successful work to listed buildings results from a full understanding of the historic asset, its special interest, context and character. All proposals for change of use, alterations or extensions to listed buildings must ensure that the heritage value of the building is not lost or its character or setting undermined by unsympathetic or insensitive changes. Any changes should be complementary to the historic asset and be of a high quality, both in design and use of material. In principle the aim should be to identify the best viable use that is compatible with the fabric, setting and character of the building and it should be noted that this may not necessarily be the most profitable use.

10.1.29Suitable alternative uses will be considered for listed buildings where this is necessary to secure their future. Any necessary adaptation of the fabric must be undertaken carefully and sensitively and have minimum impact on the architectural and historic interest, character and setting of the building. A detailed justification statement must be submitted to support an application proposing an alternative use.

10.1.30The extension, alteration or conversion of a listed building will only be acceptable where a proposal ensures the protection, conservation or enhancement of the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses. Works will not be permitted where this would diminish the architectural integrity of the building or its historic interest. A high-quality standard of design will be expected for all proposals, and all applications for alterations to a listed building must be accompanied by a detailed justification statement.

10.1.31Proposed extensions should be subservient to the listed building and respect the character and appearance of the listed building and its setting in terms of scale, height, massing, proportion and alignment and must use appropriate and high quality materials. An extension should be sensitive to the age and style of the host building, the original design intent of the architect and the historical functional use of the building. In assessing the effect of any proposed alteration or extension Council, in consultation with HED, will take account of all the elements that make up the special interest of the listed building and its setting. This may comprise not only the obvious visual features such as decorative facades, staircases or decorative plaster ceilings, but also the spatial layout of the building, the archaeological or technological interest of the surviving structure and the use of materials.

10.1.32Change of use or alterations to a listed building will also require the submission of a listed building consent application. All applications should be supported by sufficient information to allow the impact of the proposal and its potential to secure the ongoing retention and upkeep of the listed building to be assessed. The amount and detail of information required will depend on the nature and significance of the building and the level of intervention proposed.

Policy HE4 Listed Buildings - Demolition of a Listed Building

There will be a presumption in favour of retaining Listed Buildings. Permission will not be granted for the total or partial demolition of a listed building unless there are exceptional reasons why the building cannot be retained in its original or a reasonably modified form. A listed building may only be demolished where comprehensive evidence is provided to demonstrate that every effort has been made to retain it.

Where, exceptionally, listed building consent is granted for total or partial demolition this will be conditional on prior agreement for the redevelopment of the site and appropriate arrangements for recording the building before its demolition.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.33In this context of this policy, demolition refers to the loss of a listed building or a partial loss of some of its elements. Even if part of the building will be retained (such as in façade retention schemes), a proposal may still be considered as demolition if it would result in the loss of the majority of the listed building or of key features that contribute to its special interest.

10.1.34There is a presumption in favour of retaining listed buildings. While it is acknowledged that on very rare occasions the demolition of a listed building will be unavoidable, consent will not be given simply because redevelopment is economically more attractive to the developer than the repair and re-use of the building. In cases where it is clear that a building has been deliberately neglected in the hope of obtaining consent for demolition, less weight will be given to the costs of repair.

10.1.35Structural issues will not be given substantive weight when making a case of demolition where these have arisen due to neglect of a listed building through lack of maintenance or failure to secure by current or previous owners. Evidence will be required to indicate alternative options for stabilisation of the existing structure have been considered in efforts to retain the listed building. Reports submitted for consideration on the integrity of the building, including structural integrity, must be submitted by suitably experienced engineers, architects or building surveyors. Where proposed works would result in the total demolition of a listed building, or of any significant part of it, the applicant must submit details relating to the following:

  • the condition of the building, the cost of repairing and maintaining it in relation to its importance and to the value derived from its continued use;
  • actions taken to retain the building in use. Council will require to be satisfied that genuine efforts have been made without success to continue the present use or to find compatible alternative uses for the building; and
  • the merits of alternative proposals for the site.

10.1.36There may exceptionally be cases where demolition would bring substantial benefits for the community, which have to be weighed against the arguments in favour of preservation. Even in these circumstances it will often be feasible to incorporate listed buildings within new development. Demolition of a listed building will not be considered in isolation from proposals for subsequent redevelopment.

10.1.37The council will request applicants to submit detailed drawings illustrating the proposed redevelopment of the site to accompany a listed building consent application for demolition. Where the demolition of a listed building is granted by way of this policy it will be unacceptable to leave a vacant plot. Applicants are strongly advised to consider engaging the services of an appropriately qualified conservation accredited and competent person(s) to prepare such reports and consider the submission of a PAD at an early stage.

10.1.38Where consent is granted for the demolition of a listed building the following conditions will be imposed:

  • prohibiting demolition of the building until planning permission has been granted and contracts have been signed for the approved redevelopment of the site; and
  • requiring, where appropriate, the recording of the building prior to its demolition.

Policy HE5 Development affecting the Setting of a Listed Building

Planning permission will not be granted for development which would adversely affect the setting of a listed building. Development proposals will only be considered appropriate where they meet the General Policy, accord with other provisions of the LDP and all the following criteria are met:

  1. the proposed development is sympathetic to the special characteristics of the listed building and its setting in regard to height, scale, form, massing, alignment, materials and finishes;
  2. the proposed development does not result in the significant loss of key public views of the listed building; and
  3. the nature of the proposed use respects the character and setting of the listed building.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.39The term ‘setting’ applies to the physical space that is part of and contributes to the significance and distinctive character of a heritage asset, and through which the asset may be seen, experienced, understood and enjoyed57. The setting of a listed building is often integral to its significant character. The design and siting of new building(s) and how they relate to the listed building is particularly critical. The setting is more than the immediate surroundings of a site or building and may be related to the function or use of a place, or how it was intended to fit into the landscape or townscape, the quality of the setting and the extent to which the proposed development and the listed building will be experienced in juxtaposition. The extent to which proposals will be required to comply with the criteria will be influenced by the following factors:

  • the character and quality of the listed building;
  • the proximity of the proposal to it;
  • the character and quality of the setting;
  • the extent to which the proposed development and the listed building will be experienced in juxtaposition; and
  • how the setting of the heritage asset is understood, seen, experienced and enjoyed and the impact of the proposal on it.

10.1.40Although the setting of a listed building is not solely defined by its views, it remains important that new development should not interrupt key views of, from or to a listed building. New development should not dominate the listed building or detract from it in a way that diminishes the understanding and appreciation of the listed building. It should also be noted that development can potentially affect the setting of a listed building when it is located within the setting but out of sight of the listed building(s).

Policy HE6 Conservation Areas

There is a presumption in favour of the conservation of individual historic buildings and the character of development within the wider historic environment of conservation areas. Development proposals in a conservation area will be assessed with the aim of enhancing its character and only where an opportunity to enhance does not exist should the lesser test of preserving be applied.

New Build or Replacement Buildings

Planning permission will only be granted for a new or a replacement building in a conservation area or which impact on its setting where it meets the General Policy, accords with other provisions of the LDP and all the following criteria are met:

  1. the overall character and appearance of the conservation area is preserved or where possible enhanced;
  2. the height, scale, form, massing, alignment, materials and finishes respect the characteristics of adjoining buildings, the distinct character and setting displayed within the conservation area, and the integrity of wider setting of the conservation area;
  3. the plot layout and site density reflect and respond positively to existing buildings and the distinct characteristics of the conservation area;
  4. key public views within, into and out of the conservation area are protected;
  5. it does not result in environmental problems such as noise, nuisance or disturbance;
  6. trees and other landscape features contributing to the character or appearance of the conservation area are protected and/or integrated in an appropriate way into the design and layout of the development; and
  7. the development has regard to published supplementary planning guidance such as a Conservation Area Design Guide.
Alteration, Extensions and Change of Use

Planning permission will only be granted for alterations and extensions and/or change of use applications within conservation areas where criterion a) above is met. The following additional criteria shall also be required to be met unless the applicant can demonstrate why they are inappropriate with regard to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area:

  1. extensions shall be subservient to the existing building with regard to height, scale, form, massing, alignment, materials and finishes;
  2. the design should incorporate wherever possible visual characteristics or features reflective of the existing building and surrounding area;
  3. the proposal makes use of materials and appropriate detailing sympathetic with the existing building and/or setting; and
  4. the proposal will not result in the detrimental loss of visual gaps between the existing building and the site boundary.
Demolition within a Conservation Area

There will be a presumption in favour of retaining non-listed buildings in conservation areas. A development proposal involving the demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where it is demonstrated that the existing building makes no material contribution to the character and appearance of the area and it is demonstrated that the new building enhances the character or appearance of the area.

Where it is determined that the unlisted building does make a positive material contribution to the character or appearance of the area, Policy HE4 Demolition of a Listed Building shall apply.

Where conservation area consent for demolition is granted this will be conditional on prior agreement for the redevelopment of the site and appropriate arrangements for recording the building before its demolition.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.41There are five designated Conservation Areas within Mid and East Antrim as shown in Appendix J:

  • Carnlough
  • Carrickfergus
  • Gracehill
  • Glenarm
  • Whitehead

10.1.42Conservation Areas are legally defined as areas of 'special architectural or historic interest’, and in managing development within these areas the guiding principle is to afford special regard to the desirability of enhancing its character or appearance where an opportunity to do so exists, or to preserve its character or appearance where an opportunity to enhance does not arise. The special character of our conservation areas relates to the quality and interest of an area as a whole, rather than just individual buildings.

10.1.43All development proposals in conservation areas will be required to be of a high quality and sensitive design and be based on a careful consideration of issues such as height, scale, form, massing, alignment, materials and finishes. Proposals will also be expected to adhere to guidance set out in any relevant Conservation Area Design Guide.

10.1.44Where outline applications are submitted for development proposals within a conservation area, information on matters such as scale, massing, materials/finishes, access and parking will also be required to ensure that a full assessment of the impact of development proposals can be undertaken.

New or Replacement Buildings

10.1.45A high quality standard of design will be expected for all proposals for new or replacement buildings within or adjoining conservation areas. Such buildings should be appropriate and sympathetic to the historical character and/or the setting of the conservation area and must therefore fully adhere to all of the policy criteria. Where appropriate, good quality contemporary design will be acceptable, provided it draws upon the heritage values associated with the particular conservation area. If a traditional approach is considered more appropriate, the architectural detail, proportions and materials should more closely reflect local distinctiveness.

10.1.46Special care is also needed in the location and design of development proposals which are visually linked to a conservation area. Inappropriate development outside a conservation area can have a detrimental effect on the character and historical setting of the area. In such cases new or replacement buildings will be required to respect the character and appearance of the adjacent conservation area and not compromise important views in to and out of the area.

Alteration, Extensions and Change of Use

10.1.47Proposals for the alteration, extension and change of use of buildings in a conservation area will be supported where they are sensitive to the existing building and are in keeping with the character and appearance of the particular conservation area. Extensions should be subsidiary to the existing building use appropriate materials and not result in the detrimental loss of visual gaps between the existing building and the site boundary.

Demolition within a Conservation Area

10.1.48The Council will operate a presumption in favour of retaining any building which makes a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area. Where demolition is proposed the onus rests with the applicant to provide evidence that the building makes no material contribution to the character or appearance of the area. In determining proposals for demolition of unlisted buildings Council will take account of their contribution to the architectural or historic interest of the area, and also to wider impacts on the surroundings and on the conservation area as a whole. In cases where it is determined by Council that the existing building does make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area Council will have regard to the same broad criteria used when considering applications for the demolition of listed buildings as prescribed in Policy HE4 Demolition of a Listed Building.

10.1.49Applicants are strongly advised to consider the submission of a PAD application at an early stage.

10.1.50In cases where permission is granted for demolition, conditions will be imposed:

  • requiring the redevelopment of the site to be based on previously agreed detailed proposals; and
  • prohibiting the demolition of the building until contracts have been signed for the approved redevelopment of the site.

Policy HE7 Areas of Townscape Character

New or replacement buildings

Planning permission will only be granted for new or replacement buildings within an Area of Townscape Character (ATC) where it meets the General Policy, accords with other provisions of the LDP and all the following criteria are met:

  1. the overall distinct character displayed within the ATC is maintained or where possible enhanced;
  2. the existing built form in the ATC is respected by way of the height, scale, form, massing, alignment, materials and finishes;
  3. the plot layout and site density reflect and respond positively to existing development patterns and the distinct characteristics of the ATC;
  4. there is no detrimental impact on the setting of the ATC including no significant loss of key views within, into and out of the ATC; and
  5. trees and landscape features which contribute to the distinctive character of the ATC are protected and integrated in a suitable manner into the design and layout of the development.
Alterations and extensions

Planning permission will be granted for alterations and extensions within an ATC where the above criteria are met, and regard is given to the following additional criteria:

  1. extensions shall be subservient to the existing and adjacent buildings with regard to height, scale, form, massing and alignment; and
  2. alterations and extensions utilise materials and finishes that are characteristic of the ATC.
Demolition

There will be a presumption in favour of retaining any unlisted building which makes a positive contribution to the distinct character of an ATC.

Planning permission for total or substantial demolition of an unlisted building within an ATC will only be granted where it is determined that the building makes no material contribution to the distinctive character of the ATC or where the quality of the design of the replacement building is determined to enhance the overall character of the ATC.

Where permission for demolition is granted this will be conditional on prior agreement for the redevelopment of the site.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.51Many areas within our towns exhibit a distinct character, based on their historic built form or layout. This character is normally derived from the common characteristics of the area's buildings, their setting, landscape and other locally important features. It is therefore important to protect the distinctive character and intrinsic qualities found within our ATCs. At present there are five ATCs in Mid and East Antrim with the potential for additional areas to be designated through the Local Policies Plan.

New or replacement buildings

10.1.52New or replacement buildings should seek to reinforce local identity, promote high quality development and protect key views and assets. This should ensure that both the individual and cumulative impacts of any proposed development does not detract from the character, appearance and quality of the ATC. Proposals for new or replacement buildings will only be permitted where it is clearly demonstrated that the development will maintain or enhance the overall character of the area by meeting the policy criteria.

Alterations and extensions

10.1.53Proposals for the alteration or extension of buildings within an ATC will only be considered acceptable where it is determined that they are sensitive to the existing building and are in keeping with the character and appearance of the particular area. Extensions should normally be located on the rear elevations of a property, be subsidiary to the parent building, be of an appropriate scale and use a palette of materials and finishes which complement the existing building. Careful consideration will be required for alterations and extensions affecting the roof of a property as these may be particularly detrimental to the character and appearance of the area.

Demolition

10.1.54The demolition of a building or buildings within an ATC can significantly erode the character, appearance and integrity of the area and is particularly damaging where there are no proposals for the full redevelopment of the site. Council will therefore operate a presumption in favour of retaining any building which makes a positive contribution to the character of the area with the onus resting with the applicant to provide evidence that the building makes no material contribution to the character or appearance of the area. Where the demolition of an unlisted building is proposed the key considerations that will be taken into account are the contribution of the building to the character and appearance of the ATC, and the effect of its demolition on the distinctive character of the area, and whether the proposal for the redevelopment of the site is sufficient to maintain or enhance the distinctive character of the area.

10.1.55The demolition of an unlisted building in an ATC will only be permitted where Council is fully satisfied that the building makes no material contribution to the distinctive character of the area or where the quality of the design of the replacement building will enhance the overall character of the ATC. In cases where permission is granted for demolition, conditions will normally be imposed:

  • requiring the redevelopment of the site to be based on previously agreed detailed proposals; and
  • prohibiting the demolition of the building until contracts have been signed for the approved redevelopment of the site.

Policy HE8 Non-listed Locally Important Building or Vernacular Building

All development proposals for the sympathetic conversion of a locally important and/or vernacular building should involve the minimum intervention and should maintain or enhance the existing character of the building and its setting.

Conversion/Re-use

There will be a presumption in favour of the sympathetic conversion and/or re-use of a non-listed locally important building or vernacular building to other appropriate uses where it would secure its upkeep and retention and maintain or enhance the form, character and architectural features, design and setting of the existing building.

Proposals will be required to meet all of the following criteria:
  1. the proposal will maintain or enhance the form, character, architectural features and setting of the existing building and not have an adverse effect on the character or appearance of the locality;
  2. any extension(s) shall be subservient to the existing and adjacent buildings with regard to height, scale, form and massing; and
  3. any new extensions, alterations or adaptations should not significantly alter the integrity of the existing building or its setting and must be of high quality.
Replacement of a Vernacular Dwelling in the Countryside

Proposals involving the replacement of such dwellings will be assessed against Policy HOU9 Replacement Dwelling and in addition, the existing dwelling must be retained in perpetuity and incorporated in the layout of the overall development scheme to form an integrated building group.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.56There are a significant number of buildings within Mid and East Antrim which by reason of their built attributes or their social and historical connections are important in defining the character and identity of their locality. While these buildings are not currently considered to be of sufficient interest to merit statutory listing, they undoubtedly enrich local distinctiveness and assist our understanding of the evolution of the historic environment in Mid and East Antrim. These buildings should therefore be retained, and where possible, appropriate uses sought to secure their ongoing viability.

10.1.57Non-listed locally important buildings are buildings which have a degree of architectural or historical significance but are not formally designated and can include buildings such as former school houses and churches, mills or former banks.

10.1.58The term vernacular architecture is applied to building design that was not formalised, but its form, plan and method of construction expresses local or regional traditions. Vernacular dwellings can largely be identified by their simplicity of form, built without formal plans or drawings, based around a linear plan layout and constructed of locally sourced materials.

10.1.59The impact of a development on the significance of a non-listed heritage asset will be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing a proposal that directly or indirectly affects such assets, a balanced judgement will be made having regard to the scale of any harm or loss relative to the significance of the heritage asset.

10.1.60The retention and reuse of these types of buildings exemplifies sustainable development and Council will support appropriate re-use and sensitive conversion if necessary, rather than their replacement. This may include proposals for residential, tourism or recreation use, small-scale employment uses or new rural enterprises (see Policy ECD4 – Economic Development in the Countryside). All proposals for the conversion of non-listed locally important or vernacular buildings should involve a minimum level of intervention and should maintain or enhance the character of the existing building and its setting.

10.1.61Approval will not be given to a proposed extension which significantly alters the integrity or character of the original building. Buildings should be of permanent and substantial construction and should not be so derelict that they could only be brought back into use by substantial rebuilding, tantamount to the erection of a new building. Good design is particularly important and where extensions or external alterations are proposed, these must reflect the form, scale, massing, materials and respect the character and architectural features of the existing property. All proposals will therefore be critically assessed as to their contribution to the conservation of the building to be converted.

10.1.62Structural issues will not be given substantive weight when making a case for replacement where these have arisen due to neglect of a building through lack of maintenance or failure to secure it by the current or previous owners. Evidence will be required to indicate alternative options for stabilisation of the existing structure have been considered in efforts to retain the building. If however, evidence is submitted that clearly demonstrates that the vernacular dwelling is found to be structurally unsound and not capable of sympathetic conversion or repair to allow residential use, a replacement dwelling will be permitted provided that the existing dwelling is retained in perpetuity, through a sympathetic conversion to a functional use that is ancillary to the proposed dwelling house to form an integrated building group. The original building should not be left derelict.

10.1.63Where a proposal for the conversion or replacement of a non-listed locally important or vernacular building is considered acceptable any curtilage created, as part of the proposal should not have a harmful effect on the character of the countryside, particularly in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other areas of high landscape quality.

Policy HE9 Enabling Development for the Conservation of Heritage Assets

Council will only permit Enabling Development relating to the conservation, refurbishment and re-use of a Heritage Asset58 in exceptional circumstances where it will not materially harm its heritage value or setting. It must be demonstrated through a Statement of Justification that all the following criteria will be met:

  1. the heritage asset to be subsidised by the proposed enabling development will bring significant long-term benefits according to its scale and location;
  2. the conservation of the heritage asset would otherwise be either operationally or financially unviable;
  3. the impact of the enabling development is precisely defined at the outset;
  4. the scale of the proposed enabling development does not exceed what is necessary to support the conservation of the heritage asset;
  5. sufficient subsidy is not available from any other source;
  6. the public benefit decisively outweighs the disbenefits of departing from other planning policies;
  7. it will not materially harm the heritage values of the heritage asset or its setting;
  8. it avoids detrimental fragmentation of the management of the space;
  9. it will secure the long-term future of the heritage asset and, where applicable, its continued use for a sympathetic purpose; and
  10. it is necessary to resolve problems arising from the inherent needs of the heritage asset, rather than circumstances of the present owner, or the purchase price paid.

Justification and Amplification

10.1.64Enabling Development is development which conflicts with other policies in the LDP and which, in its own right, would normally be considered unacceptable, but which may be supported if Council is satisfied that the proposal will facilitate and secure the long-term future of a heritage asset by using the profit generated by the proposed development. It is intended that this policy will only be used as a last resort where the long-term public benefit of securing a significant place decisively outweighs the disadvantages of departing from other LDP policy provisions. It allows for assessment of such proposals as a preliminary requirement and will not be implemented if Council is uncertain that the public benefit will be gained. The conflict with other planning policies places a responsibility on both the developer and the Council to carefully assess whether the public benefit arising from the restoration of the historic asset outweighs the disbenefit from setting aside other policies.

10.1.65The design of the new enabling development is required to be of high quality. Aside from the specific areas of conflict, the proposed development must accord with the General Policy and other provisions of the LDP.

10.1.66Applications incorporating enabling development should be accompanied by a detailed Statement of Justification setting out the need for the proposal and the public benefit. This statement should include sufficient, detailed financial information as is necessary to allow Council to make an informed decision upon the application. In particular, the information provided on the enabling development component should be sufficiently detailed to allow Council to validate the need for, and assess the scale of the enabling development and consider the impact on private concerns where this coincides with the public interest. The information supplied by the developer should cover all the financial aspects of the proposed enabling development, in a sufficient degree of detail to enable a proper assessment.

10.1.67The scale and intensity of enabling development must be proportionate to the funds needed for the restoration. It should be the minimum necessary to generate the income for the restoration and reuse of the target historic asset. As the profit generated by the enabling development will be used for the restoration work, the costs of both elements must be set out in a business plan and financial projection accompanying the application, in order to allow the viability assessment of the scheme to be assessed.

10.1.68Applicants should expect to have restrictive planning conditions, and/or a planning agreement attached to any permission and should therefore be prepared to have access to their own legal services to facilitate this.

  • 52 - Article 4 Directions are made under Article 4(1) of Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 Article 104 & The Planning (General Permitted Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015.
  • 53 -Archaeological excavations may only be carried out under the provision of a licence granted by the Department under the provisions of the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995.
  • 54 - State Care and Scheduled Monuments are protected under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.
  • 55 - Other LDP Strategic Designations – Area of Constraint on Mineral Development and Area of Constraint on High Structures
  • 56 - The current list of Registered and Supplementary Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes can be accessed here: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/historic-parks-gardens-and-demesnes
  • 57 - https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/communities/guidance-on-setting-and-the-historic-environment.pdf
  • 58 - For the purposes of this policy, ‘Heritage Asset’ means a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest. Heritage asset includes any part of the historic environment that has heritage value including scheduled monuments, archaeological remains, historic buildings (both statutorily listed or of more local significance) together with any historically related contents, industrial, marine and defence heritage, conservation areas, Area of Townscape Character or a Historic Park, Garden or Demesne.

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