ECD4 Economic Development in the Countryside

Closeddate_range16 Oct, 2019, 9:30am - 11 Dec, 2019, 5:00pm

Policy ECD4 Economic Development in the Countryside

A proposal for economic development in the countryside will be permitted where it meets the General Policy and the specific criteria for each of the circumstances set out below where this policy provides opportunity for rural enterprise:

  1. Expansion of an established economic development use in the countryside

    A proposal for the expansion of an established economic development use in the countryside will be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated that all the following criteria are met:

    Exceptionally, expansion beyond the existing curtilage may be acceptable where the applicant has demonstrated that relocation of the enterprise is not possible for particular operational or employment reasons and the proposal would make a significant contribution to the local economy.

    1. there is no major increase in the site area of the enterprise; and

    2. involves the reuse or extension of existing buildings on site, unless the applicant has demonstrated that this is not possible. In that case, new buildings may be approved provided they are in proportion to the existing building(s) and will integrate as part of the overall development.

  2. Redevelopment of an established economic development use in the countryside

    A proposal for the redevelopment of an established economic development use in the countryside for economic development purposes (or an appropriate sui generis employment use) will be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated that both the following criteria are met:

    1. there is only a proportionate increase in the site area; and

    2. relative to the existing development, the proposed redevelopment scheme must demonstrate a planning gain over the site as a whole in regard to environmental and visual impact on the surrounding countryside.

  3. Major Industrial Development in the Countryside

    A major industrial proposal which makes a significant contribution to the regional economy will be permitted in the countryside where the applicant has demonstrated that the proposal due to its size or site specific requirements needs a countryside location. An edge of settlement location will be favoured over a location elsewhere in the rural area.

  4. Small Rural Start-up Projects

    A firm proposal to develop a small community enterprise centre or a small rural start-up industrial enterprise on land outside a village or small settlement will be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated that all the following criteria are met:

    Where an economic development proposal is permitted under this policy, any subsequent proposal should preferably be sited to cluster or visually link to this, subject to meeting the General Policy.

    1. there is an unmet need;

    2. there is no suitable site within the settlement;

    3. the proposal would benefit the local economy or contribute to community regeneration; and

    4. the development is clearly associated with the settlement, but will not dominate it, adversely affect landscape setting or otherwise contribute to urban sprawl. Preference will be given to a site adjacent to the settlement limit, or reusing a building on a degraded/derelict site close to the settlement limit.

  5. Farm/Forestry Diversification

    A proposal for farm or forestry diversification will be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated that both of the following criteria are met:

    Proposals will only be acceptable where they involve the re-use or adaptation of existing farm buildings.

    Exceptionally, a new building may be permitted where there is no existing building available to accommodate the proposed use, either because they are essential for the maintenance of the existing farm enterprise, are clearly unsuitable for adaptation and re-use or cannot be adapted to meeting the requirements of other statutory agencies.

    Where a new building is justified, it should be satisfactorily integrated with an existing group of buildings.

    1. the farm or forestry business is currently active and has been active and established for the last six years; and

    2. it is to be run in conjunction with the agricultural operations on the farm.

  6. Agricultural and Forestry Development

    A proposal for development on an active and established farm or forestry business will be permitted where the applicant has demonstrated that the following criteria are met:

    1. the farm or forestry business is currently active and has been active and established for the last six years; and

    2. it is necessary for the efficient use of the farm or forestry business.

    In cases where a new building is proposed the applicant must demonstrate:

    1. there are no existing buildings on the farm or forestry business that can be used; and

    2. the proposal is sited beside established buildings on the farm or forestry business. Exceptionally an alternative siting away from established buildings on the farm or forestry business may be acceptable where the applicant has demonstrated there are verifiable site specific health and safety reasons,

    A proposal for intensive farming or animal husbandry will be required to demonstrate that it will not result in any significant adverse environmental impact, including in relation to ammonia emissions.

  7. The Conversion and Re-use of an Existing Building

    A proposal for the conversion and re-use of an existing building for economic development use will be assessed under Policy HE8 Non-listed Locally Important Building or Vernacular Building.

    Proposals for new offices, call centres, or storage and distribution will not be permitted unless ancillary to the main use. In addition, retailing (unless acceptable under Policy RET4 Rural Shops and Roadside Facilities) and commercial leisure uses will not be permitted in the countryside.

Justification and Amplification

The Council is committed to facilitating opportunities for economic development and diversification in the countryside while maintaining, and where possible, enhancing the quality of the rural environment for local people and visitors. A pleasant and attractive countryside is central to the Borough’s economic prosperity and tourism offering. The circumstances provide for in this policy offer the greatest scope for sustainable economic development in the countryside.

Expansion of an established economic development use in the countryside

There are many established industrial and business enterprises located throughout the Borough’s rural area. Whilst expansion of these enterprises may promote job creation, this also has the potential to radically change the nature of the enterprise and its impact on the local rural area. The policy seeks to strike a reasonable balance by allowing for expansion of enterprises while minimising the potential for harmful impacts.

Redevelopment of an established economic development use in the countryside

This policy seeks to offer the opportunity for some redundant or poor quality industrial sites in the rural area to be appropriately redeveloped to modern standards with the aim of promoting job creation and securing environmental improvement/benefits. The overall impact of replacement buildings should not be greater than that of the existing buildings to be replaced.

Major Industrial Development in the Countryside

The Council will seek to encourage major industrial development to locate in the Borough’s main towns. This policy allows for an exception to this where a proposal which makes a significant contribution to the regional economy requires a countryside location. The applicant must demonstrate both of these aspects to the Council’s satisfaction. The latter test will require evidence of the exploration of alternative sites in urban areas, and full consideration of all environmental impacts. Existing enterprises in an urban area will not be permitted to relocate to the countryside.

Small Rural Start-Up Projects

This policy seeks to facilitate the development of new small scale industrial start-up enterprises in the countryside for the benefit of the rural economy and community. It allows for a flexible approach to ensure adequate provision is made where a firm proposal exists for a small rural enterprise that is associated with a village or smaller rural settlement but cannot be accommodated within that settlement. The applicant will be required to demonstrate the need for, and the economic benefits of, the proposal. If permitted, the economic development uses considered appropriate for the site will be conditioned.

Farm Diversification

The Council is committed to supporting farm diversification proposals and enterprises where they are compatible with broader planning objectives for the countryside and elsewhere. This policy aims to promote forms of diversification that are sustainable in the countryside, including farm related small business enterprises, agri-food or tourism schemes. It is important that the countryside is not spoilt by the unfettered development of urban uses. Diversification proposals, therefore, should be of a scale and nature appropriate for the location and be capable of satisfactory integration into the rural landscape. Applications for proposals more suitable to the urban area or existing urban-based enterprises seeking relocation to the countryside will not be acceptable. Where a new building is proposed, the applicant will be required to provide sufficient information to satisfactorily demonstrate why existing buildings cannot be used.

For the purposes of this policy, a farm business is one that demonstrates that it enjoys the decision-making power, benefits and financial risks in relation to the agricultural activity25 on the land. One of the clearest ways of demonstrating that a farm business is currently active is firstly by providing an active DAERA Category 1 Business ID Number, and secondly by demonstrating receipt of Single Farm Payment or payment from the Basic Payment Scheme administered by DAERA. Where applicants do not have a Category 1 Business ID Number and have not received payment through DAERA, then the applicant must provide evidence of an active farm business. Examples of evidence that may be required include:

  • Accounts for the farming business prepared by a qualified accountant.
  • Receipts relating to outputs and inputs.
  • Bank statements showing income/expenditure relating to receipts.
  • Evidence demonstrating that they are personally and substantially involved in the agricultural activity as opposed to simply renting land in conacre and how this can be reconciled with other documentary evidence in relation to the farm business.

Additional evidence may also be required. In all cases such evidence must cover a minimum of the last six years from the date of the application.

Agricultural and Forestry Development

This policy seeks to support the ever-changing operational needs of farm or forestry businesses. The applicant will be required to demonstrate that the proposal is necessary for the efficient use of the farm or forestry business. Where a new building is proposed, the applicant will also be required to satisfactorily demonstrate why existing buildings cannot be used. Where the new building is proposed away from the existing farm buildings, the applicant should submit verifiable evidence of site specific health and safety reasons why this is needed, for example, bio-security risks to flock and feed associated with intensive livestock farming such as poultry breeding or rearing. In addition, an applicant for a proposal for intensive livestock farming or animal husbandry will have to demonstrate that it will not result in any significant adverse environmental impact, including in relation to ammonia emissions.

The Conversion and Re-use of an Existing Building

This policy seeks to facilitate the potential reuse of a locally important building in the countryside for appropriate economic development use. Applicants should refer to Policy HE8 Non-listed Locally Important Building or Vernacular Building for criteria to be met. Development proposals relating to offices, call centres, or storage and distribution uses will be more tightly controlled in the countryside than other economic development uses, as they are considered to be more difficult to absorb into the countryside without detrimental impact on rural amenity.

  • 25 - For the purposes of this policy, agricultural activity is as defined by Article 4 of the European Council Regulations (EC) No. 1307/2013.

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