Policy OSL1 Protection of Open Space

Development that would result in the loss of existing open space or land zoned for the provision of open space will not be permitted, irrespective of its physical condition and appearance.


  1. An exception may be permitted where it is clearly shown that redevelopment will bring substantial community benefits that decisively outweigh the loss of the open space.
  2. An exception may also be permitted where it is demonstrated that the loss of open space will have no significant detrimental impact on the amenity, character or biodiversity of an area and where either of the following circumstances occur:
    1. in the case of an area of open space of two hectares or less, alternative provision is made by the developer which is at least as accessible to current users and at least equivalent in terms of size, usefulness, attractiveness, safety and quality; or
    2. in the case of playing fields and sports pitches within settlement limits, it is demonstrated by the developer that the retention and enhancement of the facility can only be achieved by the development of a small part of the existing space - limited to a maximum of 10% of the overall area - and this will have no adverse effect on the primary use of the facility for sport and recreation. This exception will be exercised only once.

Justification and Amplification

A general presumption against the loss of open space to competing land uses will be operated as once built on it is almost certainly lost to the community forever. The retention and, whenever possible, enhancement of existing open space will be supported throughout the Borough, whether specifically identified in the LDP or not, unless the lands are identified in the LDP for an alternative use.

For exception a), applicants will be expected to demonstrate that their proposals are supported by the local community. For exception b) i., where an exchange is acceptable in principle it will be secured through use of planning conditions or, where appropriate, a Planning Agreement under Section 76 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. This will tie redevelopment to the provision of the new facility and ensure that this is capable of being maintained adequately through appropriate management agreements. Exception b) ii. will be applied only once to guard against the piecemeal erosion of playing fields and sports pitches by a succession of small developments. In addition, the grant of planning permission will normally be reliant on the applicant entering into a Section 76 Planning Agreement tying the financial gain arising from redevelopment to the retention and enhancement of the open space facility.

All proposals for the alternative use of open space will be assessed with regard to their effect on the amenity, character and biodiversity of the area and the wider locality and taking into account anticipated future need for open space. Any deterioration in the appearance or condition of open space due to inadequate management or maintenance, however, will not be sufficient justification in itself for the loss of the open space to alternative uses.

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