GP1 The General Policy for all Development

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

Policy GP1 The General Policy for all Development

Planning permission will be granted for sustainable development where the proposal accords with the LDP and there is no demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance. Where this is not the case there will be a presumption to refuse planning permission.

All development proposals requiring planning permission with the exception of minor proposals18, will be assessed against the following general policy criteria a) - e) and will, where relevant, be required to demonstrate compliance with them. In addition, all development proposals outside settlement limits and within the open countryside will also be required to demonstrate compliance with general policy criterion f).

  1. Criteria relating to Design Quality and Respecting Local Character and Distinctiveness
    1. The development is compatible with surrounding land uses and neither the use or the built form19 and associated infrastructure (including hard/soft landscaping) will detract from the visual amenity, landscape quality, local distinctiveness and inherent character of the locality;
    2. The development, including associated infrastructure and landscaping is of high quality and, where appropriate, complements or enhances local built form;
    3. Appropriate landscaping and means of enclosure are provided so as to facilitate satisfactory integration of the development into the local townscape or rural landscape; and
    4. The development does not adversely affect features associated with the historic environment/setting, natural heritage or areas recognised for their exceptional landscape quality and should seek to retain or integrate such features wherever possible.
  2. Criteria relating to Safeguarding Residential Amenity
    1. Neither the use or the built form shall have an unacceptable adverse impact upon the amenity20 of existing residents living within, adjacent to or in reasonable proximity to the development site;
    2. Appropriate boundary treatment and means of enclosure are provided so as to effectively mitigate against significant adverse impacts on visual amenity and, where relevant, other amenity impacts; and
    3. New residential development shall be sited so as to maintain sufficient separation distance from existing or approved infrastructure likely to prejudice residential amenity or safety21.
  3. Criteria relating to Access/Movement /Car Parking
    1. Access arrangements shall be in accordance with the latest guidance published by the Department for Infrastructure22;
    2. A movement pattern is provided that, insofar as possible, supports active travel (walking and cycling), meets the needs of people with disabilities or whose mobility is impaired, respects public rights of way and provides adequate and convenient access to public transport and local community facilities;
    3. The existing road network has sufficient capacity or can be adequately upgraded to safely manage any extra vehicular traffic that the proposed development will generate; and
    4. Adequate and appropriate provision is made for car parking in accordance with the latest supplementary planning guidance23.
  4. Criteria relating to Safety and the Safeguarding of Human Health/Wellbeing
    1. The development will not prejudice safety nor cause demonstrable harm to human health and wellbeing;
    2. Where appropriate, the development should be designed so as to facilitate opportunities for active and passive recreation for everyone, both within and wherever possible, beyond the site;
    3. The development is designed to deter crime and promote personal safety;
    4. Any emission or discharge of effluent (including sewage) arising from the development is in accordance with legislative requirements pertaining to air and water quality;
    5. The development site is not at risk from flooding and the development will not cause or exacerbate flooding elsewhere, taking account of present day flood risk and the potential future risk associated with climate change; and
    6. The development site is not located in an area known to be at significant risk from coastal erosion or land instability, or will not exacerbate such risks elsewhere.
  5. Criteria relating to Sustainable Development
    1. Development proposals, particularly major applications, will be expected to generally align with the LDP Spatial Growth Strategy;
    2. Essential infrastructure to facilitate the development must be available or, if lacking, there must be a firm commitment in regard to its timely provision;
    3. The development shall utilise sustainable drainage systems, as the preferred drainage solution, where feasible and practicable to ensure that surface water runoff is managed in a sustainable way;
    4. The development does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the quality and integrity of the environment and particularly upon local biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services beneficial to the community;
    5. The development takes account of the efficient use of energy, water and other resources, where feasible and practicable integrates micro-generation and passive solar design, in order to mitigate against the adverse impacts of climate change; and
    6. All development will be required to have adequate provision for the storage and management of waste.
  6. Criteria relating to Development in the Countryside
    Development proposals in the countryside should not have a significant adverse impact on landscape character, the rural character of the locality or environmental quality. The siting and design of proposals should overall be appropriate for the site, respect rural character, distinctiveness and the pattern of settlement in that area. Accordingly, a proposal for a building(s) and/or ancillary works should:
    1. be integrated into the surrounding landscape through the use of established boundaries such as trees and hedges, without the need to primarily rely on new landscaping or significant earthworks;
    2. not result in a prominent or obtrusive feature in the landscape, for example through siting on the top of ridges or slopes, particularly when seen from critical views from roads, shared lanes, public paths, or other public vantage points;
    3. be of an appropriate design, scale, height and massing for the site and the locality;
    4. respect any locally distinctive traditions in the siting and design of buildings;
    5. respect any traditional pattern of settlement exhibited in the locality;
    6. not result in a suburban style build-up of development in the area;
    7. not create or add to a ribbon of development; and
    8. not mar the distinction between a settlement and the surrounding countryside or result in urban sprawl.

Justification and Amplification

The LDP General Policy applying to all development above the specified threshold will ensure that key planning principles embodied in such overarching government strategies as the RDS, SPPS and SDS, filter through to development on the ground via the operation of the development management process in the context of the new Plan-led system.

Design Quality and Respecting Local Character and Distinctiveness

In line with the LDP Vision to create high quality, sustainable and connected places, Council will encourage the highest standards of design for all development in the Borough. There are many aspects to good design. Principles of how good design can contribute to good place making are set out in ‘Living Places – an Urban Stewardship and design Guide for Northern Ireland’, published by the former Department of the Environment, in August 2013. One of the most important of these principles is ‘the Contextual’, which seeks to ensure that new development is the ‘right fit’ in regard to reinforcing a sense of place. In assessing planning applications, Council will therefore require that new development should respect its surroundings and be of an appropriate design for the site and its locality. In an urban setting regard should be given to the relationship with nearby buildings and spaces, the density and pattern of development, and the character and special qualities of the local townscape. This will be particularly important in areas valued for their architectural or historic interest, such as in Conservation Areas. Respecting local character and distinctiveness is equally important in the rural context. Here, it will be important for new development to be sited and designed so as to integrate into the landscape and for external appearance of buildings to respect local building traditions in terms of materials, finishes, details and colours. Further details are provided below in relation to the criteria for development in the countryside.

Safeguarding Residential Amenity

The safeguarding of residential amenity is about ensuring that a new development does not give rise, either directly or indirectly, to an unacceptable adverse impact upon the amenity of those living in a neighbouring or nearby dwelling. Relevant considerations such as noise and loss of privacy or sunlight/daylight are listed in the footnote to the policy with a caveat that the list is not exhaustive. In assessing applications, Council will request the developer to look at how likely adverse impacts might be effectively mitigated, before refusing planning permission. In all cases, Council will apply the principles of good neighbourliness and fairness.

Access/Movement/Car Parking

The integration of good accessibility must be considered early in the design process and consider both the inside and outside areas of the development. New buildings should be designed to provide ease of access for all, with a level approach from the boundary of the site to the building without the hindrance of steps or other such obstructions where possible. The pedestrian environment around a development should provide for priority over vehicles as far as reasonably possible. Other proposals for the conversion, extension or re-use of an existing building for the above purposes should make provision for improved access to the building and its surroundings, where there is reasonable opportunity to do so.

In the design of new development, applicants must demonstrate how they have taken account of the specific needs of people with disabilities and others whose mobility is impaired, including incorporating facilities to aid accessibility e.g. provision of dropped kerbs and tactile paving etc; convenient movement along pathways and an unhindered approach to buildings; pedestrian priority to facilitate pedestrian and wheelchair movement within and between land uses; and ease of access to public transport facilities, taxi ranks, and car parking reserved for people with disabilities and whose mobility is impaired, including young children.

In order to demonstrate the measures considered to aid accessibility for everyone, a Design and Access Statement may be required to accompany the planning application.

Council will apply the current Departmental guidance contained within ‘Creating Places – Achieving Quality in Residential Developments’ (DOE, 2000); DCAN 11 ‘Access for People with Disabilities’ (DOE, 1991); draft Revised DCAN 11 ‘Access for All – Designing for an Accessible Environment’ (DOE, 2003); and Development Management Practice Note 12 ‘Design and Access Statements’ (DOE, 2015).

A development proposal generating significant travel movements must be accompanied by a Transport Assessment (TA) in order to evaluate the transport implications of the proposal. Where appropriate, a TA may need to be accompanied by a Travel Plan setting out complementary measures to help mitigate any adverse impacts highlighted by the TA. The Council will apply the Department’s published guidance ‘Transport Assessment Guidelines for Development Proposals in Northern Ireland’ (DfI, 2006). Where a TA concludes that a development necessitates the provision of additional transport infrastructure or improvements to existing infrastructure, these costs shall be borne by the developer.

Safety and the Safeguarding of Human Health/Wellbeing

Council will ensure that all new development is safe for those who will be living, working or visiting the building(s) and/or site or the immediate locality. In this regard, Council will mainly exercise control through its role in administering the Building Regulations. However, Council will also use its planning powers to ensure that new development is not located in areas of risk such as flood plains, areas liable to land instability and subsidence, or in the vicinity of COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) sites. In assessing applications for residential development, Council will give due consideration to layout and design which takes proper account of deterring crime.

Council will base its decisions on planning grounds alone. Accordingly, it will not use its planning powers to secure objectives achievable under other legislation for the regulation of air and water quality. However, new development will be expected to be in compliance with the relevant legislation, so as to have proper regard for the safety and wellbeing of occupiers. In line with the LDP and Community Plan Vision to improve quality of life for all, development proposals, particularly for housing, will be required to provide adequate private and public and amenity space and to connect to green infrastructure / active travel networks where they exist or are proposed in the locality. These measures will provide opportunities for leisure or more active recreation which will promote public health and wellbeing.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development lies at the heart of the planning system and this LDP. Sustainable development principles are therefore embedded in the full range of the strategic proposals and policies included in the draft Plan Strategy. The policy criteria included in this category of the General Policy embrace several aspects of sustainable development.

Our Spatial Growth Strategy is designed to secure sustainable patterns in the location of new development over the Plan period, in line with the RDS. The General Policy therefore requires new development, particularly major proposals to generally align with the Spatial Growth Strategy.

Another important aspect of sustainable development requires that new development that delivers for society and the economy, does not do so at the expense of the environment. Accordingly, all development should avoid harming the quality and integrity of the environment and to ensure that essential infrastructure to support the development, for example adequate wastewater capacity, is either available or committed. Where possible, it is also desirable that new development should enhance the environment. The promotion of sustainable drainage for all development will assist in improving water quality and may have a positive impact on local biodiversity and the incidence of flooding.

A further aspect of sustainable development relates to the conservation of resources such as water and energy. Conserving the use of energy has a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change and is therefore a positive step in taking action to adapt to anticipated climate change. The adoption of sustainable building practices and the integration of renewable energy technology including micro-generation and passive solar design into new development, are examples of how the planning system can assist in delivering on this aspect of sustainable development. In similar fashion, the layout and design of new development can assist in the conservation of water resources. Further details on this are contained in ‘Sustainable Water – a Long Term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland 2015-2040’.

Development in the Countryside

Our countryside in Mid and East Antrim is one of our greatest assets. Council recognises the value of the countryside and through the planning system will seek to manage development in a manner which strikes a sustainable balance between protection of the environment from inappropriate development, while supporting and sustaining rural communities. A major part of this approach to managing development in the countryside requires careful attention to details around the location, siting and design of new development in the rural area. The General Policy therefore sets out a number of criteria to ensure appropriate forms of development in our countryside.

Satisfactory integration of new development and ancillary works (including buildings and accesses) into the surrounding landscape will be required. Essentially, this means that the site has the capacity to absorb the development without adverse impact on visual amenity. While new tree planting for integration purposes will be considered together with existing landscape features, new planting alone will not be sufficient. A building on an unacceptable site can not be successfully integrated into the countryside by the use of landscaping.

Ancillary works including accesses and services, such as electricity lines, should use existing field boundaries/hedgerows and the landform to aid integration and be accompanied by additional landscaping if necessary. Wherever possible access to a new building should be taken from an existing lane-way. New accesses and associated walls, pillars and fencing in themselves have the potential to be obtrusive and accordingly it will often be necessary to attach a condition removing permitted development for such boundary treatments in the interest of visual amenity and preserving rural character.

New development in the countryside should respect rural character and distinctiveness. These emerge from an often subtle combination of elements such as landscape characteristics, pattern of settlement, the siting and size of buildings and local building traditions in regard to the use of materials, finishes, window proportions and colours. The assessment of the impact of a proposal, both on its own and cumulatively with other existing and approved buildings and ancillary works, on rural character, will be judged from critical views from roads, shared lanes, public paths and other public vantage points.

The form and proportions of a new building are key elements in the design and strongly influence its visual impact on the landscape. Successful rural design whether traditional or contemporary is based upon simple shapes, forms and finishes of traditional buildings.

The traditional field pattern should be preserved and roadside and field boundary hedges and stone walls retained or reinstated following any access works. Retention or reinstatement of natural boundaries and walls is an important element in mitigating the impact of new development and where necessary will be controlled by condition. Suburban style front gardens should be avoided as they can lead to prominent and unnatural features in the countryside. It may on occasion be necessary to control the size and extent of the curtilage of a new dwelling by applying a planning condition.

Landscapes surrounding a settlement are important in maintaining a clear distinction between the urban entity and the countryside, in providing a setting to the built up area, and in preventing the coalescence of settlements in locations where they are in relatively close proximity. Accordingly, the General Policy in regard to development in the countryside, aims to manage development in these peripheral areas so as to ensure that the landscape setting of settlements is maintained and not marred by development that would prejudice its various roles or otherwise contribute to urban sprawl.

All development proposals in the countryside should take account of the supplementary planning guidance – ‘Building on Tradition: A Sustainable Design Guide for the Northern Ireland Countryside ’, published by the former DOE in 2011.

  • 18 - This refers to non-residential extensions (Industrial/Commercial/Leisure etc.) with a footprint less than 150 sq. m, Alterations: development that does not increase the size of buildings, e.g. alterations to external finishes. ‘Householder’ development: e.g. sheds, garages, games rooms etc. within the curtilage of the existing dwelling in addition to extensions to the existing dwelling. This excludes any proposed development that would create a separate dwelling within the curtilage of the existing dwelling e.g. subdivision of a dwelling house into flats.
  • 19 - In the context of this and other general or subject related policy criteria; built form refers to the siting, layout, density, scale, height, massing, form, levels, materials and detailing of buildings within the development site.
  • 20 - Relevant considerations will include the potential adverse impacts of noise, lighting, air pollution, water pollution, dust, loss of light, overshadowing, loss of privacy, or other disturbance arising from the operational use or traffic generated by the development. This list is not exhaustive and weight will also be given to the impact of the development on future residents of adjacent schemes that benefit from a live planning approval.
  • 21 - Examples include overhead cables, renewable energy structures, electricity sub-stations, waste water treatment works, waste management facilities. The list is not exhaustive.
  • 22 - Currently, Development Control Advice Note 15 (2nd edition).
  • 23 - Currently ‘Parking Standards’ published by former DOE in February 2005.

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