Mid Ulster District Council has reached a ‘planning milestone’ with the publication of its draft Local Development Plan.
The draft strategy sets out the Council’s vision for planning land use up to 2030 and includes a series of proposed objectives, spatial planning framework and planning policies.
A total of 17 separate objectives are detailed in the plan, aiming to support sustainable patterns of urban and rural development and growth, and spanning housing, infrastructure, transport, tourism, community and recreational facilities, and the protection of vulnerable landscapes.
Flexibility for housing in the countryside is among the key suggested changes to existing policy, with proposals to allow a dwelling for a carer or in a farm cluster or for commercial fishermen to build a home within a designated area of the lough shore, all included.
A new concept of ‘Rural Industrial Policy Areas’ also features, reflecting the fact that much of Mid Ulster’s industry, particularly engineering linked to quarrying, takes place in the countryside, while the needs of small rural enterprises are also acknowledged through plans to allow development of small workshops in rural areas.
Urban economic development zones at Granville and at the Tyrone Brick Works, Dungannon, are also included and the draft plan confirms a ‘town centre first’ approach to retail development.
‘Special Countryside Areas’ with additional protections for the high Sperrins, Slieve Beagh and the Lough shore are introduced for the first time, while ‘Areas of Constraint’ are also proposed for mineral development, renewable energy and telecommunications, seeking to introduce restrictions and new policies in relation to matters such as peat extraction or surface lands above mines and shafts.
Speaking at the launch of the draft plan, Chair of the Council, Councillor Sean McPeake, said:
“This is a planning milestone for Mid Ulster which follows the transfer of planning to local authorities in April 2015.
“With that transfer of power from central to local government comes the first opportunity in decades for us to truly tailor our plan and our planning policies to address the specific needs of the Mid Ulster District.
“The publication of the draft plan is the culmination of a significant amount of work over the past 2 years and having reached this critical stage, we look forward to hearing the views of local people and other interested parties to provide further evidence for the soundness of our final proposals”.
Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan, Chair of the Council’s Planning Committee, described the draft plan as ‘pushing at the boundaries of current planning policy’:
“We consider Mid Ulster to have some unique characteristics and that requires the development of a planning framework that can properly meet those needs, so this draft plan does push at the boundaries of current planning policy.
“In particular, we are recognising the rurality of Mid Ulster where more than 70% of our population live outside our urban settings and yet, despite our rurality, we have the largest industrial base outside of Belfast.
“Flexibility for rural housing and rural regeneration are, therefore, fundamental to the plan’s proposals.
“However, alongside the need to support growth and development in rural communities and in our urban centres, we must consider a balanced approach where we also protect the unique landscapes of Mid Ulster.
“The draft plan is, therefore, also seeking to afford that protection to some of our most valuable and vulnerable areas.
“This is one of the most important strategic documents which the Council has produced. Its influence on the future growth and development of the Mid Ulster region cannot be underestimated and nor can the importance of this community engagement”.
The Mid Ulster Local Development Plan 2030 – Draft Plan Strategy is open for consultation from Friday 22 February 2019 to Friday 19 April 2019 and is available to view and download online at www.midulstercouncil.org/developmentplan. For a full list of consultation locations, venues and times, see: bit.ly/LDP2030Consult.