New planning policy to boost tourism – Attwood

Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, today issued a new planning policy for sustainable tourism development

Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 16 will bring forward clearer, more flexible planning policy creating more opportunities for tourism that will be beneficial to the local economy and will protect tourism assets from inappropriate development.

It will make it easier for developers and other stakeholders to bring forward tourism proposals that are appropriate and sustainable in towns, cities and the countryside.

Key changes in the policy that will promote sustainable tourism development and provide more opportunities for sustainable development in the countryside are:

  • the inclusion of an exceptional circumstances policy, this means that unique proposals for a major tourism development project in the countryside, which will bring jobs and tourists to rural communities and benefit the tourism industry, can be approved;
  • the removal of the requirement for an applicant to demonstrate ‘need’ for tourist accommodation in the countryside will make it less difficult for applicants to bring forward proposals, and easier and quicker for the planning authority to process applications;
  • holiday / caravan park sites in the countryside no longer need to be within the Development Plan, as required by Draft PPS16. In rural areas, new or extended holiday parks will be required to integrate into the surrounding countryside and to demonstrate a high quality layout and design;
  • expansion of the Draft PPS16 provisions for hotels to now also include proposals for guest houses and tourist hostels in the countryside.
Alex Attwood said: “The planning system plays a crucial role in assisting and supporting a thriving tourism industry. My officials have worked closely with the tourism sector to develop PPS16 to help achieve this. PPS 16 provides a common sense planning policy framework that is right for Northern Ireland that achieves the correct balance between development and protection.

“The new policy aims to manage the provision of sustainable and high quality tourism developments in appropriate locations within the built and natural environment. This will reinforce the green and clean credentials that make the North such a special place. It will provide a planning framework that will help boost the economy as tourism serves as an economic driver. As the tourism sector grows in a sustainable way, so do jobs, services and facilities.

“PPS 16 underpins the recently announced half a million pound regeneration fund for coastal communities and the £1 million dereliction fund that I have made available to tackle dereliction and spruce up a number of areas in Northern Ireland. The built and natural heritage will drive future increases in tourist numbers and spend. Six of the top ten visitor attractions are features of our built and natural heritage. Growing tourism from a £500 million to a £1 billion a year industry will revolve around the positive protection and development of this heritage and this new policy that I am bringing forward will help to do this.”

Geoffrey Chestnutt, Chairman of Caravan and Camping Forum for Northern Ireland said: “The Caravan and Camping Forum for Northern Ireland welcome the recognition within PPS16 of the importance of the holiday parks industry to Northern Ireland’s economy.

“DOE Planning’s engagement with the industry was instrumental in framing policies which should provide the flexibility to allow sustainable park development. Northern Ireland’s economy benefits from the business generated by over 120 holiday and touring parks which provide a market for local goods and services as well as jobs, both on parks and in their host communities.”

PPS 16 will protect tourism assets from insensitive development, not just tourism development, to avoid damage to their quality and character.

The Minister concluded: “I believe it is important to afford protection to tourism assets associated with our natural and built heritage, not only for conservation reasons, but also to ensure their continued effectiveness in attracting tourists and underpinning the tourism industry.” 

Notes to editors:

1. PPS 16 will replace tourism policies SP 10 and TOU 1 to TOU 4 and coastal policies CO 5 to CO 7 of ‘A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland’. It will also supersede policy CTY 1 of PPS 21 insofar as it relates to the tourism policies of ‘A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland’.
2. PPS 16 has been brought forward in consultation with DETI and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and takes account of emerging Tourism Priorities for Action Plan
3. The final version of PPS 16 takes account of the public consultation responses made in regard to Draft PPS 16.
4. The Caravan & Camping Forum for Northern Ireland is established to provide a forum for the exchange of views between and amongst private and public sector stakeholders of the Caravan and Camping industry in Northern Ireland

this information was taken from the NI planning website


How Slemish Design Studio Help can help?

At SDS we are able to advise you on the finer detail of the policy, its materiality and weight in respect of current or future planning applications.
We can use our expertise and experience to help guide your application through the increasingly complex planning system.
SDS can advise on the acceptability of these proposals and provide planning statements to support their approval. We can advise on the appeal case law that has developed on the interpretation of these policies and your likely chances of success.
We can also advise you on the chances of success at appeal if your application is unsuccessful. We can advise on whether your application can be amended to make it more acceptable.
For further information please contact:
Steven or Joe at Slemish Design Studio –


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