SGS1 Spatial Growth Strategy

Table 5.2 Spatial Growth Strategy

Link to RDS Spatial Framework Guidance (SFG)

Manage growth to secure sustainable patterns of development across Mid and East Antrim.


Focus major population growth and economic development in the three main towns of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne, strengthening their roles as the prime locations for business, retail, housing, administration, leisure and cultural facilities within the Borough.

SFG1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 15

Facilitate appropriate growth in our small towns to provide opportunities for business, retail, housing and services.

SFG13, 14

Sustain rural communities living in and around villages and small settlements.

Facilitate sustainable development in the open countryside, balancing the need to protect the environment and rural character while sustaining a strong and vibrant rural community.

Justification and Amplification

Our proposed Spatial Growth Strategy will help achieve the RDS objectives of promoting growth and economic development opportunities in the ‘main hubs’ of Ballymena and Larne and support the role of Carrickfergus within the Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area whilst sustaining rural communities living in smaller settlements and the open countryside allowing them to maximise their potential.

The focus of growth in the main towns recognises the critical mass they sustain in regard to populations and jobs. This will also capitalise on the benefits arising from the efficient use of existing community facilities, services and infrastructure in the main towns and their strategic location on key transport corridors, including the gateway status of Larne. It is anticipated that main town centres will be reinforced by retail, office and mixed use development and a town centre first approach will be adopted for retailing, administration and commercial leisure, to help maintain their vitality and viability (see Retail Strategy). Main towns will accommodate economic development and new residential development within the existing urban fabric, and where possible on previously developed land. This means protecting existing, and where necessary providing new, economic development zonings to maintain a generous supply of economic development land (see Economic Development Strategy). Similarly, housing zonings will ensure land availability over the plan period to meet housing needs (see Strategic Housing Allocation and Management of Housing Supply).

Small towns will support the main towns and provide opportunities for economic development, retail and services and accommodate residential development in keeping with the location, scale, function and character of the settlement. Where necessary this could also include appropriate leisure, recreation and community facilities.

Our villages will be sustained, consolidated and revitalised and they will continue to perform a role as local service centres to meet the daily needs of the rural area and accommodate rural businesses and appropriately scaled residential development.

Small settlements will act as a focal point for the rural community, particularly in the more isolated parts of the Borough. They often take the form of a rural cluster or crossroads development where consolidation of the built form can provide opportunities for single dwellings and/or small groups of houses or small rural businesses. The level of development should be proportionate to the location, size and scale of the settlement.

Within the open countryside, outside of designated Special Countryside Areas, single dwellings and appropriate types of economic development, such as farm diversification, agriculture and forestry development and sustainable tourism and minerals proposals will also be facilitated to sustain vibrant rural communities. In order to strike an appropriate balance with the protection of the environment, proposals should cluster, consolidate, group with established buildings or re-use buildings so they do not detract from the landscape or rural character. In addition, they should respect the natural and historic environment (see Natural Heritage and Historic Environment policies).

Map 5.1 Mid and East Antrim Spatial Growth Strategy incorporating Settlement Hierarchy

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