Policy SFA1 Strategic Focus Areas

Within a designated Strategic Focus Area, development proposals are required to be in accordance with both of the following criteria:

  • support the objectives of the Strategic Focus Area; and
  • protect and/or enhance identified key features within the Strategic Focus Area and their settings and linkages.

All development proposals will also be required to meet the General Policy criteria and accord with other provisions of the LDP.

Justification and Amplification

Place-making is a people-centred approach to the planning, design and stewardship of new developments and public spaces that seeks to enhance the unique qualities of a place. The SPPS states that, “key to successful place-making is identifying the assets of a particular place as well as developing a vision for its future potential”.

Our Borough has distinctive urban areas that give expression to the unique identity of Mid and East Antrim. Such areas, through their distinctiveness, also offer opportunities for tourism development and economic growth. Often, these areas have evolved around a distinctive historic core, and may also be a key location. Carrickfergus, with its historic castle and town walls, coastal setting and location on the Causeway Coastal Route, is an obvious example. Such areas have unique selling points, which can be exploited to promote economic growth through tourism. To maximise their potential, these special urban areas should be inviting, stimulating and encourage visitors to engage in activities such as leisure, recreation, shopping or simply to stay and experience the distinctive buildings and streetscape setting. This requires a place-making approach.

In order to support good place-making in such areas, the Local Policies Plan will designate Strategic Focus Areas. The overall aim of a SFA is to support the successful and sustainable development of discrete urban areas that are strategically important for our Borough, in regard to sustainable tourism and economic growth and their heritage and unique amenity value.

The Local Policies Plan will set out a bespoke Spatial Framework and objectives for each designated SFA that will support the Council’s strategic vision for that area. The spatial framework will be supported by planning guidance that will seek to manage development so as to meet the place-making objectives and secure a coherent and sustainable approach to the development of the area. Such guidance will take account of identified key features such as important views and vistas, buildings, streets, squares, green and blue infrastructure and pedestrian/cycle networks. It will also identify spatial linkages and functional relationships between key features and explain how all these elements combine to create (or have potential to create) a wider ‘sense of place’.

A Spatial Framework with associated planning guidance will support place-making and further the Council’s strategic vision for these strategically important urban areas. This is considered imperative given the challenging economic conditions facing our town centres and the intense competition in the tourism sector.

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