Policy TOU6 Self Catering Accommodation in the Countryside
A proposal for self catering units in the countryside will be permitted where it complies with Policy TOU3 All Tourism Development in the Countryside and only in either of the following circumstances:
one or more new units all located within the grounds of an existing or approved hotel, self catering complex, guest house or holiday park; or
a cluster of three or more new units are to be provided at or close to an existing or approved tourist amenity that is/will be a significant visitor attraction in its own right.
In addition the following specific criteria must be met:
In either circumstance a) or b) above, self catering development is required to be subsidiary in scale and ancillary to the primary tourism use of the site.
Where a cluster of self catering units is proposed in conjunction with and ancillary to a proposed or approved tourist accommodation scheme/or tourist amenity, a condition will be attached to the permission preventing occupation of the units before the primary tourism use is provided and fully operational.
All permissions for self catering accommodation will include a condition requiring the units to be used for holiday letting accommodation only and not for permanent residential accommodation.
The overall design of the self catering scheme, including layout, the provision of amenity open space and the size and detailed design of individual units, must deter permanent residential use. To this end, permitted development rights in respect of plot boundaries will also be removed.
Justification and Amplification
This policy provides sustainable opportunities for self catering tourist accommodation in the countryside particularly in areas where tourist amenities and accommodation have become established. The policy will provide for sustainable economic benefits because new self catering accommodation linked with an existing tourism enterprise can create synergy by enhancing its usage, economic viability and attractiveness to tourists. In turn this will support wider tourism initiatives. The policy will also provide sustainable environmental benefit through focusing self catering development in existing nodes of tourism activity, thereby avoiding random development throughout the countryside and safeguarding the value of tourism assets.
Where units are proposed in association with a tourist amenity, the policy requires that the tourist amenity must be a significant visitor attraction in its own right. In assessing this, Council will consider the nature and scale of the tourist amenity. Relevant considerations in this regard are likely to include visitor numbers and the provision facilities linked to and enabling usage of the amenity, for example berth for boats, buildings for use as changing areas or the storage of recreational equipment, and car parking. To assist in this assessment, Council may consult with Tourism NI.
Where self catering units are permitted on the basis of an associated tourist accommodation or a tourist amenity, it is imperative that the primary tourism use which provides the justification is in place and functioning, before the units become operational.
The requirement for approved self catering units to be retained in tourism use and not used for permanent residential accommodation will seek to ensure that tourist accommodation is available to benefit local communities in rural areas and that the unauthorised use of approved tourist accommodation as a private dwelling(s) does not occur. Permanent residential use of self catering units will also be deterred through design. Such units will be required to demonstrate an informal site and road layout with communal car parking and open space only. Individual units must be of appropriate design for holiday use, for example rural cottage style, with possible restrictions on floorspace and building height. Plot divisions between units by means of fences or walls will be prevented through the removal of permitted development rights.
Policy HE8 Non-listed Locally Important Building or Vernacular Building and Policy ECD4 Economic Development in the Countryside - Farm/Forestry Diversification may provide other opportunities for small scale, including single unit, self catering accommodation in the countryside.