Introduction

9.1.1The movement of people and the efficient distribution of goods and services is essential to the proper functioning of our Borough. Transportation connects people socially and provides access to essential services such as employment, leisure, recreational and educational opportunities which are all key to people’s wellbeing.

9.1.2Mid and East Antrim occupies a key strategic location in relation to Northern Ireland’s regional transport network. Our main towns are all served by major roads and rail links providing easy access to Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. Connectivity beyond Northern Ireland is provided through the Port of Larne within our Borough and through close proximity to the International Airport.

9.1.3The RDS identifies Larne as a Gateway on the Eastern Seaboard Corridor (one of the five Key Transport Corridors (KTCs) identified in the RDS), linking it to Belfast and the Motorway network. The A8, a major transport link between the Port of Larne and the M2, was upgraded in 2015 providing further opportunities to take advantage of this Key Gateway location. Ballymena’s location on another of these five KTCs - the Northern Corridor, links it with Belfast and Antrim as well as Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Derry/Londonderry. The dualling of the A26, north of Ballymena, was completed in 2017, further improving the connectivity and attractiveness of Ballymena’s central location. Carrickfergus is located on one of the Key Link Corridors within the Belfast Metropolitan Area. The A2 at Greenisland was dualled in 2015, further improving accessibility between Belfast and Carrickfergus, and ensuring that our Borough is a key link on the Causeway Coastal Route. Figure 9.1 below shows the context of our Borough in relation to these Key Transport Corridors identified in the RDS.

Figure 9.1 Key Transport Corridors in the RDS in relation to Mid and East Antrim

9.1.4There are also currently eight Protected Routes designated within Mid and East Antrim, some of which extend into other Council areas. These help to ensure the relatively free flow of traffic across the Borough and beyond.

9.1.5Our Borough is served by the NI Railways network, with both Ballymena and Cullybackey having train stations along the Belfast – Londonderry line which also facilitates links to Coleraine and Portrush. There are also several train stations throughout Carrickfergus and Larne districts which provide a key link to Belfast City Centre and beyond. There are also bus stations in both Larne and Ballymena. Many of these public transport stations also benefit from the provision of free park and ride car parking. There are also a number of disused railway lines which have the potential to be re-used as transport routes, including active travel routes such as greenways.

9.1.6Given the dispersed nature of our Borough, there is a continued reliance on motorised transport - in particular the private car. Just under 5% of residents in employment within Mid and East Antrim travel to work using public transport (Census 2011). To address this situation, the LDP promotes the use of more sustainable modes of transport.

Map 9.1 Key transportation infrastructure and connectivity within Mid and East Antrim

9.1.7The RDS and 'Ensuring a Sustainable Transport Future: A New Approach to Regional Transportation' (DRD, 2011) consider better integration between transport and land use as fundamental to achieving the transportation vision “to have a modern, sustainable, safe transportation system which benefits society, the economy and the environment and which actively contributes to social inclusion and everyone’s quality of life”. The SPPS outlines seven regional strategic objectives for transportation and land-use planning (para 6.297) and highlights that the LDP provides the opportunity to assess the transport needs, problems and opportunities within the Borough and to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to transportation issues in the allocation of land for future development.

9.1.8In line with the regional direction, our LDP seeks to improve connectivity through promoting the integration of transportation and land-use, whilst promoting more sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport. It also seeks to facilitate safe and efficient access, movement and parking.

Policy Aims

9.1.9The LDP strategic approach to transportation is set out in our policy aims below. These fully embrace the above-mentioned regional strategic objectives and guidelines for LDPs set out in the SPPS.

  • To deliver sustainable patterns of development which reduce the need for the private car and promote the use of public transport and active travel modes;
  • To facilitate safe and efficient access, movement and parking; and
  • To protect land required for new transport schemes and the re-use of disused transport routes.

Implementation

9.1.10The policy aims will be delivered primarily though the operational strategic subject policies set out in the remainder of this section. The Local Policies Plan will also identify and protect specific transport schemes and disused transport routes. Also through the Local Policies Plan, land will be zoned for development taking due account of its accessibility so as to facilitate integration between transportation and land use.

Policy TR1 Access to Public Roads

A development proposal involving direct access, or the intensification of the use of an existing access, onto a public road will only be permitted where both of the following criteria are met:

  1. such access will not prejudice road safety or significantly inconvenience the flow of road users; and
  2. the proposal does not conflict with Policy TR2 Access to Protected Routes.

The acceptability of access arrangements, including the number of access points onto the public road, will be assessed against current DfI published guidance33. Consideration will also be given to the following factors:

  • the nature and scale of the development;
  • the character of existing development;
  • the contribution of the proposal to the creation of a quality environment, including the potential for urban/village regeneration and environmental improvement;
  • the location and number of existing accesses; and
  • the standard of the existing road network together with the speed and volume of traffic using the adjacent public road and any expected increase.

Justification and Amplification

9.1.11New development will most often require vehicular access34on to the public road, either in the form of a new access or the use of an existing one. A properly located and well-designed access is important for the safety and convenience of all road users. The Council will ensure that access arrangements for development proposals are safe and will not unduly hinder the movement of traffic.

9.1.12It is recognised that it may not always be practicable to comply fully with the appropriate visibility standards. Such standards, like all material considerations, need to be assessed in light of the particular circumstances of the individual case. Exceptionally a relaxation in standards may be acceptable in order to secure other important planning objectives. Visibility standards, however, will not be reduced to such a level that danger is likely to be caused.

9.1.13Where an existing access is available to facilitate development proposals, the Council will generally expect this to be used unless there is an opportunity to provide more acceptable access arrangements, having regard to both road safety and local amenity considerations. Where an existing access is to be used, but is sub-standard, a condition requiring its improvement prior to the commencement of the development will normally be imposed on a grant of planning permission. In cases where a new access is considered acceptable in preference to the intensified use of an existing access a condition requiring the existing access to be closed may be imposed.

9.1.14Whatever the type of access, good visibility is also essential for the safety and convenience of all road users. Applicants will therefore be required to have control over the land needed to provide visibility splays and ensure that they are retained free of any obstruction. A condition will normally be imposed requiring that no development shall take place until the works required to provide access, including visibility splays, have been carried out.

9.1.15Council will apply the current Departmental guidance contained within ‘Creating Places – Achieving Quality in Residential Developments’ (DOE, 2000) and Development Control Advice Note (DCAN) 15 ‘Vehicular Access Standards’ (2ndEdition, DOE, 1999).

Policy TR2 Access to Protected Routes

The Council will operate a general presumption against new development involving direct access, or the intensification of the use of an existing access, onto a protected route. Exceptions relating to the various types of Protected Route are specified below:

Motorways and High Standard Dual Carriageways35 – All locations

Planning permission will not be granted for a development proposal involving direct access. An exception may be considered in the case of roadside services where there is a demonstrable need as required by retail Policy RET4 Rural Shops and Roadside Service Facilities.

Other Dual Carriageways, Ring Roads, Through-Passes and By Passes – All locations

Planning permission will only be granted for a development proposal involving direct access or the intensification of the use of an existing access where the proposal is of regional significance.

Other Protected Routes – Outside Settlement Limits

Planning permission will only be granted for a development proposal involving direct access, or the intensification of the use of an existing access in the following circumstances:

  1. A Replacement Dwelling – where the proposal would meet the criteria set out in Policy HOU9 and there is an existing vehicular access onto the Protected Route.
  2. A Dwelling on a Farm Business – where the proposal would meet the criteria set out in Policy HOU10, and access cannot reasonably be obtained from an adjacent minor road. Where this is not achievable, proposals will be required to make use of an existing vehicular access.
  3. A Dwelling serving an established Non-Agricultural Business Enterprise – where the proposal would meet the criteria set out in Policy HOU11, and access cannot reasonably be obtained from an adjacent minor road. Where this is not achievable, proposals will be required to make use of an existing vehicular access.
  4. Other Categories of Development – approval may be justified in particular cases for other development proposals which would meet the relevant policy criteria for development in the countryside, and access cannot reasonably be obtained from an adjacent minor road. Where this is not achievable, proposals will be required to make use of an existing vehicular access.
  5. The proposal is for a facility that would reduce traffic congestion (e.g. Park & Ride or Park & Share sites).
Other Protected Routes – Within Settlement Limits

Planning permission will only be granted for a development proposal involving direct access, or the intensification of the use of an existing access in the following circumstances:

  1. Where access cannot reasonably be taken from an adjacent minor road; or
  2. The proposal is for a facility that would reduce traffic congestion (e.g. Park & Ride or Park & Share sites); or
  3. For a major economic development zoning where there is no reasonable alternative access; or
  4. In the case of proposals involving residential development, the applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated that the nature and level of access onto the protected route will significantly assist in the creation of a quality environment without compromising standards of road safety.

The distinction between the various categories of Protected Routes is illustrated on the Protected Routes map in Appendix H (check DfI website for updates).

Justification and Amplification

9.1.16The primary aim of this policy is to restrict access onto our strategic road network in order to facilitate the efficient movement of traffic between urban areas with Mid and East Antrim and beyond, thereby promoting good connectivity between these centres.

9.1.17These strategic roads are referred to as ‘protected routes’ which are identified by DfI, and include primary routes, routes between the principal towns across the Borough and beyond, routes to ports and airports and other selected routes with high traffic flows. It is recognised that safeguarding these routes by restricting unnecessary access, contributes to economic prosperity, road safety, reduced journey times and alleviation of traffic congestion.

9.1.18Any development proposal allowed under this policy must not compromise the function of those protected routes which form part of the regional strategic road network in facilitating the free and safe movement of traffic. On other classes of protected routes outside and inside settlements, a new access or the intensification of use of an existing access will only be permitted in the circumstances outlined above.

9.1.19For clarification, the criteria relating to a facility that would reduce traffic congestion does not include private car parking proposals.

9.1.20Proposals for roadside service areas will only be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated a need and there are no existing roadside services along the strategic road network within 12 miles of the proposal (see retail Policy RET4 Rural Shops and Roadside Service facilities).

9.1.21In all cases, where access to a Protected Route is acceptable in principle, it will also be required to be in accordance with Policy TR1 Access to Public Roads.

Policy TR3 New Transport Schemes

Protection of Transport Schemes

The Council will safeguard land required for the implementation of a transport scheme identified in the LDP. A development proposal that would prejudice such a scheme will not be permitted.

Delivery of Transport Schemes

A developer will be required to deliver or to contribute to the cost of a transport scheme in any of the following circumstances relating to the development:

  1. where the development relies on a planned transport scheme identified in the LDP/Local Transport Plan; or
  2. where future residents or users of the development will benefit from proximity to a planned transport scheme identified in the LDP/Local Transport Plan; or
  3. where the development itself generates a need for a new transport scheme or for connectivity to an existing transportation facility in the locality.

The developer contribution in each instance will be commensurate with the scale of the development proposal and on the extent to which the development itself relies on the transport scheme.

Justification and Amplification

9.1.22This policy aims to ensure that land needed to facilitate new transport schemes (including major proposals for road, rail and public transport provision, park and ride proposals and cycle/pedestrian networks or planned improvements to the transport network), are protected from development likely to jeopardise its implementation.

9.1.23This policy will apply to all road lines designated in the extant Development Plan for this reason. The Local Policies Plan, in conjunction with the DfI Local Transport Plan and the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP), will determine which road lines will be afforded ongoing protection under this policy, along with any potential new routes.

9.1.24In assessing whether the implementation of a particular transport scheme would be prejudiced by a development proposal, matters such as the nature of the proposal, the programming of the transport scheme, and the extent to which implementation of the scheme would be compromised by the carrying out of the proposed development, will all be taken into account.

9.1.25Where a new development relies on a developer-led transport scheme, for example for access, the applicant will be required to include delivery of that scheme (or part of) in order to facilitate the development. In other instances, the onus on the developer to contribute, either wholly or partially, to the delivery of a new transport scheme may arise because of a need brought about by the development itself, for example for a cycleway or walkway to link the development to a broader active travel network in the locality, whether existing or planned.

9.1.26The matter of what will be required to be delivered in each instance will be agreed between the Council and the applicant on a case by case basis until such times as a formal developer contribution framework may be published by the Council.

Policy TR4 Disused Transport Routes

A development proposal impacting on a disused transport route will not be permitted where it would prejudice its future re-use for transport purposes, or for alternative appropriate recreational, nature conversation or tourism related uses.

Justification and Amplification

9.1.27In Mid and East Antrim, disused transport routes may include roads and railway lines that are currently not operational. A number of disused railways offer potential opportunities through the reinstatement of their former transportation mode, while others may present opportunities for alternative transport modes such as new active travel routes.

9.1.28This policy aims to protect those disused transport routes identified in the Plan where there is a reasonable prospect of re-use for future transport purposes. Where this is not the case, the Council will support proposals for other alternative appropriate recreational, nature conservation or tourism related uses which will deliver environmental, social or economic benefits for communities, for example by extending the blue/green infrastructure network in the Borough. Until such time as the Local Policies Plan is adopted, all disused transport routes will be protected under this policy.

Policy TR5 Active Travel

A new development proposal within an urban area should ensure the needs of pedestrians and cyclists are taken into account. Where appropriate, the following will be required:

  1. Safe and convenient pedestrian and cycle access;
  2. Safe, convenient and secure cycle parking having regard to DfI published standards36; and
  3. Safe and convenient pedestrian and cycle links to existing or programmed active travel networks and public transport services in reasonable proximity37to the development site.

Major employment generating development will be required to make appropriate provision for shower and changing facilities.

Justification and Amplification

9.1.29This policy aims to promote active travel, such as walking and cycling, as everyday modes of transport which can help to reduce reliance on the private car, and improve health and wellbeing. Active travel provision should also integrate with public transport use to enable convenient, safe and attractive sustainable modes. In particular, opportunities to improve connections between a major development and the town centres, public transport hubs, as well as areas of employment and services will be promoted through this policy.

9.1.30In Mid and East Antrim, there is insufficient provision of safe and good quality infrastructure for walking or cycling which discourages active travel patterns. It is important that safe and convenient walking and cycling access, associated facilities, and any required links to existing or programmed active travel networks and public transport services are incorporated into the scheme design at an early stage.

9.1.31Therefore, new proposals for residential (more than two units), economic or employment, shopping, leisure and services, including educational and community uses should demonstrate how active travel considerations have been incorporated within the design concept of the scheme. The measures required will be proportionate to the nature of the development in terms of scale, location and use.

9.1.32The delivery of such infrastructure is addressed through Policy TR3 New Transport Schemes.

Policy TR6 Parking and Servicing

A development proposal will be required to provide adequate provision for parking and appropriate servicing arrangements. The precise amount of car parking will be determined according to the specific characteristics of the proposed development and its location having regard to DfI published standards38. Proposals should not prejudice road safety or significantly inconvenience the flow of people or goods.

A reduced level of car parking provision may be acceptable in the following circumstances:

  1. where, through a Transport Assessment, it forms part of a package of measures to promote alternative transport modes; or
  2. where the development is in a highly accessible location well served by public transport; or
  3. where the development would benefit from spare capacity available in nearby public car parks or adjacent on-street car parking; or
  4. where shared car parking is a viable option; or
  5. where the exercise of flexibility would assist Council in securing broader planning gain and public benefit that would outweigh the reduced level of parking.

Justification and Amplification

9.1.33The role of car parking in influencing the mode of transport people choose for their journeys is recognised. Car parking should not incentivise the use of the private car over more sustainable modes of transport. However, it is acknowledged that in the absence of an adequate public transport network to serve the whole of the Borough, a balance needs to be struck between the car parking provision and promoting other transport modes. This policy therefore seeks to ensure that car parking is considered alongside the aim of achieving more sustainable travel patterns.

9.1.34In some circumstances, it may not always be appropriate or desirable to require applicants to fully meet demand for car parking generated by their developments. This is especially the case in town centres and other areas where alternative modes of transport exist, or where there is spare capacity within nearby public car parks or adjacent on-street car parking. In these highly accessible locations, any reduced level of parking will need to be negotiated with the Council, in conjunction with DfI Roads, unless there are specific provisions for reduction of standards included in the LDP Local Policies Plan.

9.1.35Outside of these areas, there may also be situations where a reduction in car parking provision in a new development will be considered. Flexibility around this may be justified where a reduced level of car parking forms part of a package of measures included in the Travel Plan that seeks to promote alternative modes of transport. In other circumstances, flexibility may be afforded where a reduced level of car parking would secure a broader planning gain – for example a better quality development or an appropriate design within a Conversation Area. This should not be at the expense of road safety, for example, in rural locations where suitable alternative parking is not normally available.

9.1.36In all cases where a reduced level of parking is considered acceptable, the applicant will still be required to reserve an appropriate proportion of reserved parking spaces for those with disabilities or impaired mobility.

9.1.37Parking provision in excess of the published standards will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

9.1.38Parking provision should include an appropriate amount of electric charging points. In addition, for shopping, leisure and services (including educational and community uses), parking spaces should be provided for those with disabilities or impaired mobility, as well as consideration given to the provision of ‘parent and child’ parking spaces.

9.1.39Servicing arrangements are also important and can exert a major influence on the quality of the urban environment and its attractiveness to shoppers and other visitors. In town centre locations, applicants will normally be expected to include proposals for the provision of rear servicing facilities where practicable.

9.1.40Council will apply the current Departmental guidance contained within ‘Creating Places – Achieving Quality in Residential Developments’ (DOE, 2000), Development Control Advice Note (DCAN) 8 ‘Housing in Existing Urban Areas’ (DOE, 2002), Development Control Advice Note (DCAN) 11 ‘Access for People with Disabilities’ (DOE, 1991); and draft Revised Development Control Advice Note (DCAN) 11 ‘Access for All – Designing for an Accessible Environment’ (DOE, 2003).

Policy TR7 Provision of Car Parks

A development proposal for a new, or an extension of an existing public or private car park, including Park & Ride or Park & Share, will be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated that all the following criteria are met:

  1. the proposal meets a need identified by DfI in the Local Transport Plan;
  2. it does not significantly contribute to an increase in traffic congestion;
  3. it includes a high standard of design, layout and landscaping;
  4. provision has been made for security, and the direct and safe access and movement of pedestrians and cyclists within the site;
  5. provision has been made for accessible parking bays which facilitate safe, convenient access for people with a disability or impaired mobility; and
  6. surface level parking utilises sustainable drainage (SuDS).

A development proposal for a temporary car park will be permitted where the proposal complies with all the above criteria. In addition, it must be submitted in conjunction with a programmed proposal to develop or redevelop the site. Planning permission, if granted, will be subject to a time-limited condition of a maximum of two years which will not be renewed.

Justification and Amplification

9.1.41The supply of adequate public parking facilities within our towns, in particular, is vital to maintaining economic vitality and viability and to allow them to compete with out-of-centre developments and the other challenges facing the high street. This, however, needs to be balanced against the sustainable transport aims of reducing reliance on the private car and encouraging shoppers and commuters to walk or cycle, to use public transport or park and ride/park and share facilities. Proposals will therefore be required to meet a need identified in the Local Transport Plan, which will incorporate a Car Parking Strategy.

9.1.42New town centre parking provision should focus on the demand generated by the economic benefits of short-stay spaces for shoppers and visitors rather than increasing the supply of spaces for long stay commuter spaces which can act as an impediment to economic growth by contributing to congestion. In locations where a proposal is considered acceptable, the Council may require the applicant to enter into a Section 76 agreement to control the use of the parking spaces approved, including restrictions on the leasing of contract spaces.

9.1.43The Council will expect a high standard of design, layout and landscaping for all car parking proposals as the scale and layout of car parking can have a significant impact on local townscape quality and character. Car parks should be well designed and respect local character. They should also provide safe and convenient access/egress for vehicles as well as for cyclists and pedestrians, including those with disabilities or impaired mobility. All parking provision should include an appropriate amount of electric charging points and ‘parent and child’ parking spaces.

9.1.44Proposals for surface level parking should avoid the creation of a vast amount of dead space and include a well-designed landscaping scheme including appropriate boundary and surface treatments. Sustainable drainage (SuDS), should be incorporated into proposals to help reduce surface water run-off that inevitably results from large expanses of concrete or tarmac surfaces. For any multi-level or basement parking, the building at street level must have an active frontage, where practicable.

Park and Ride/Park and Share

9.1.45The Council will also support development proposals for Park & Ride or Park & Share facilities in appropriate locations where it helps to reduce congestion around urban areas by either increasing the occupancy of cars on roads, or encouraging the use of public transport. Such facilities should normally be sited at key junctions on main transport routes, on the edge of settlements, or close to transport hubs.

Temporary Car Parks

9.1.46Development proposals for temporary car parks will be assessed against the same criteria as permanent car parks. In addition to this, the applicant must demonstrate how the proposed temporary car park is linked to a firm longer-term proposal for the redevelopment of the site. Any planning approval will be time-limited to a maximum of two years to give the applicant sufficient lead-in time to proceed with the redevelopment of the site for its longer term use. Any subsequent planning applications to renew or extend this temporary period will be refused as the longer term existence of such car parks is likely to hinder economic growth potential, particularly in town centres, and may also contribute to prolonged traffic congestion and adverse impacts on local townscape quality and character.

  • 33 - Development Control Advice Note (DCAN) 15 (2nd Edition) – Vehicular Access Standards (DOE 1999)
  • 34 - For the purposes of these policies, a field gate is not an access
  • 35 - A High Standard Dual Carriageway is a dual carriageway with all junctions either ‘Grade Separated’ or ‘at-grade left-turn only’. There are no cross-overs on the central median
  • 36 - Parking Standards (DOE, 2005)
  • 37 - For the purposes of this policy, a reasonable proximity is considered to be approximately 400m or 1⁄4 mile.
  • 38 - Parking Standards (DOE, 2005)

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