The development of a hotel/guest house/tourist hostel in the countryside will be permitted where it complies with Policy TOU3 All Tourism Development in the Countryside and only in any of the following circumstances:
- Conversion and re-use of an existing rural building.
- Replacement of an existing rural building.
- New build proposal on the periphery of a settlement.
In addition the following specific criteria relating to the relevant circumstances must be met:
a) Conversion and re-use of an Existing Rural Building
A proposal for the conversion and re-use of suitable rural buildings for tourism uses, including as a hotel, guest house or tourist hostel will be assessed under Policy HE8 Non-listed Locally Important Building or Vernacular Building.
b) Replacement of an Existing Rural Building
- the building is of permanent construction;
- the existing building and its replacement are both of sufficient size to facilitate the proposed use in accordance with the accommodation requirements set out in Tourism (NI) Order 1992;
- the existing building is not a listed building;
- where the existing building is a vernacular building and/or is considered to make an important contribution to local heritage or character, replacement will only be approved where it is demonstrated that the building is not reasonably capable of being made structurally sound or otherwise improved;
- the redevelopment proposed will result in significant environmental benefit; and
- the overall size and scale of the new development, including car parking and ancillary facilities, will allow it to integrate into the surrounding landscape and will not have a visual impact significantly greater than the existing building.
c) New Build Hotel, Guest House or Tourist Hostel on the periphery of a Settlement
- the proposal is firm rather than speculative;
- there is no suitable site within the settlement or other nearby settlement;
there are no suitable opportunities in the locality to provide a hotel, guest house or tourist hostel either through:
- the conversion and re-use of a suitable building(s); or
- the replacement of a suitable building(s); and
- the development is close to the settlement, but will not dominate it, adversely affect landscape setting, or otherwise contribute to urban sprawl.
Where the principle of a new building on the periphery of a settlement is established through meeting the above criteria, Council will apply a sequential locational test, with preference being attributed to sites in the following order:
- land adjacent to the existing settlement limit, subject to amenity and environmental considerations.
- a site on the periphery of the settlement limit which currently contains buildings or where the site is already in a degraded or derelict state and there is an opportunity to improve the environment.
- an undeveloped site close to the settlement where the development could be visually integrated into the landscape.
Any proposed change of use or replacement of a hotel, guest house or tourist hostel approved under this policy to a non tourism use will be resisted, unless it is demonstrated that:
- the facility is not viable in the long term, and
- there is sufficient alternative provision in the locality to offset the loss of tourism benefit.
Expansion of Existing Hotels, Guest Houses and Tourist Hostels
A proposal for the expansion of an existing hotel, guest house or tourist hostel will be permitted where it meets Policy TOU3 All Tourism Development in the Countryside and the following criteria:
- new or replacement building(s) are subsidiary in terms of scale to the existing building(s) and will integrate as part of the overall development; and
- any extension or new building should respect the scale, design and materials of the original building(s) on the site and any historic or architectural interest the original property may have.