7. Sustainable Economic Growth
Growing a sustainable economy and investing in the future is a key strategic priority of both the NI Executive and our Council. Long term economic growth will be achieved by improving competitiveness and building a larger and more export driven sector. This will involve a rebalancing of our local economy to meet the challenges of a highly competitive global environment, so as to create more employment and higher paid jobs thereby enhancing the health and living standards of everyone.
We will also seek to grow our local economy by building on existing strengths in other economic sectors such as our agricultural, tourism and mineral resources and through enabling our town centres to fulfil their economic potential.
Growing a sustainable and vibrant economy in Mid and East Antrim will require ongoing significant inputs from a wide range of organisations and stakeholders, in order to continue to build a reservoir of expertise in such fields as education, skills training, marketing, finance etc. However, the planning system is also a vital ingredient in this mix. Through the LDP, we will seek to ensure that the locational and land use needs of the various economic sectors are met in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all our citizens.
Focusing on achieving sustainable economic growth aligns with two key themes within our Community Plan. The themes of ‘Sustainable Jobs and Tourism’ and ‘Our Environment’, highlight our Borough as a place where there should be employment opportunities as well as a clean, safe, protected and vibrant environment. The LDP will seek to deliver a sustainable balance that will allow for employment opportunities in our business and retail sectors, as well as facilitating tourism development and minerals development in appropriate locations, whilst also protecting the environment.
The strategic subject policies within this chapter will assist with the implementation of the strategic objectives set out in Chapter 4.0, particularly the following:
- To provide a sufficient supply and choice of sites for business and employment uses so as to assist in promoting sustainable economic growth in Mid and East Antrim and in meeting the locational needs of particular sectors, including new and emerging sectors.
- To support and sustain vibrant town centres in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.
- To protect strategically important transportation assets and routes (including disused transport routes) and, where possible, to facilitate enhanced connectivity within Mid and East Antrim and between the Borough and other centres.
- To support tourism as a key growth sector in Mid and East Antrim by facilitatingopportunities for sustainable tourism development and by safeguarding key tourism assets from inappropriate development.
- To facilitate sustainable economic development in the countryside, provided it is suitably located and is of an appropriate nature and scale for the rural context;
- To facilitate the provision or upgrading of public utilities infrastructure (including water, wastewater, energy and telecommunications) to meet economic and community needs.
In this chapter, the strategic subject polices are informed by our evidence base and the relevant regional and local policy context, alongside our Sustainability Appraisal objectives, particularly the following:
- Enable sustainable economic growth; and
- Protect physical resources and use sustainably.