CS8 Protection of Main River Corridors
Main River Corridors within Mid and East Antrim Borough are indicated on the District Proposals Maps and include the following rivers:
Lower River Bann (east bank)
The extent of the Main River Corridors covered by this policy will be designated through the Local Policies Plan.
Planning permission will only be granted for a development proposal sited adjacent to a main river corridor when all of the following criteria are met:
a biodiversity strip of at least 10 metres from the edge of the river is provided and accompanied with an appropriate landscape management proposal;
facilitate opportunities for public access and recreation provision, where appropriate;
there is no significant adverse impact on the key landscape features, natural environment, amenity value, biodiversity or the historic environment;
the development would not prejudice an opportunity to provide a riverside walk or to extend an existing one; and
the proposal must not compromise water quality or prejudice Policy FRD1 insofar as it seeks to manage development in flood plains.
All development proposals will also be required to meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.
Justification and Amplification
This policy seeks to protect, conserve and enhance river corridors as significant environmental assets, in ways which bring benefits to local communities, in line with our Community Plan and LDP objectives.
The four designated river corridors have been identified as being important landscape features that are also significant for their nature conservation interests, biodiversity, recreational and amenity value. They form a vital and integral part of the green / blue infrastructure network by connecting open spaces within settlements and often beyond the urban edge, to potentially link with nearby settlements.
The policy applies to the rivers, adjoining open space and other predominantly open land that together form the strategically important green corridors that run through the heart of our urban areas. This policy also applies to sections of the river corridors that extend beyond the urban areas (as defined by settlement boundaries). Along with the settlement boundaries, the full extent of river corridors to which this policy applies will be defined at Local Policies Plan stage.
Access and recreational routes
All new developments adjacent to these areas should seek where possible to enhance public access to and along the river corridors. Where appropriate this should provide a direct, safe and clear access for pedestrians and cyclists and at intervals along the river corridor provide access points across the river channel. Ecological protection and public access provision need to be carefully balanced. Access may be restricted in places in the interests of ecology.
River corridors provide an important biodiversity resource and new developments should preserve or enhance local biodiversity by including the following measures:
provide a biodiversity strip of at least 10 metres from the edge of the river accompanied with an appropriate landscape management proposal;
provide appropriate landscaping that utilises native species of trees and shrubs;
establish less disturbed, low maintenance, riverside areas;
provide habitat for a range of species that is appropriate to the area, including shade and shelter;
ensure appropriate lighting is used to avoid a negative impact on species;
enhance green networks that link sites;
manage and seek to eradicate invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed; and
employ biodiversity measures and procedures to reduce the risk of introducing or spreading invasive non-native species (and other harmful organisms such as diseases) in the wild.
Historic and Cultural Environment
Given that many settlements in Mid and East Antrim originated because of the main river corridors they are of significance to the historical and cultural evolution of the Borough. Development proposals within or adjoining these river corridors should therefore ensure that archaeological remains, historic buildings and historic landscapes and their settings are protected, conserved and where possible enhanced.
Development proposals should take into account the landscape character context for each of the river corridors as set out in the Landscape Character Assessment. Landscaping proposals within or adjacent to a main river corridor should only use appropriate native species and should be designed in such a way to be low maintenance.
Fringes of land adjacent to watercourses will often perform a primary function of providing for the storage and conveyance of flood-water during times of flood. All development proposals will need to ensure that the capacity of the flood plain to store and carry flood water is not hindered, as this could result in increased flooding problems downstream, (refer to Policy FRD1 Development within Floodplains for further information).
Water Quality and Pollution Prevention
The ecosystem of the river depends on good water quality. Development proposals therefore need to consider pollution prevention as a priority measure which must be addressed from the beginning of the development process. Any proposed development that may create potential for pollution will not be granted planning permission unless the threat can be addressed effectively through appropriate planning conditions and agreed mitigation measures.