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Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has launched a new plan which will boost balanced growth, development and tourism in the Causeway Coast and Glens Council area.

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The Northern Area Plan is a blueprint for how the area should grow and develop. It identifies land for specific uses that will help the economy and provide more certainty in the planning process for people living in these areas.

Mark H Durkan said: “This Plan will bring many benefits to the Causeway Coast and Glens area. This is an area renowned for its natural beauty and tourism. This framework will help balance the need for economic development with protection of the natural and man-made environment in this scenic area.

“The Northern Area Plan recognises not only the importance of developing the larger towns of Coleraine, Limavady, Ballymoney and Moyle but also small towns and villages as rural service centres by identifying development of an appropriate scale to sustain rural communities.

“This is the result of a good partnership approach with the council, government departments and the local community. We also carried out a lengthy consultation process and many interested people and organisations put forward their vision as to how the area should grow and develop. Their input has proven invaluable and fed directly into the Plan that I am publishing today.

“This Plan will provide the statutory framework for the area and will be the primary mechanism to reconcile any potential conflict between the need for development and the need to protect our environment. It will provide clarity and certainty for statutory authorities, developers, businesses, the general public and any interested bodies bringing forward land use proposals within the area.”

Highlights of the Plan:

· Designates settlement development limits for Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle areas which define where appropriate development will be acceptable in principle;

· Promotes the continued development of Coleraine and Limavady as main hubs, and Ballymoney and Ballycastle as local hubs;

· Recognises potential for the further development of the residential, recreational and tourism potential of Portrush and Portstewart while enhancing their character and identity;

· Identifies appropriate development land, within the six towns of Ballykelly, Bushmills, Cushendall, Dungiven, Garvagh and Kilrea and 25 villages and 34 small settlements within the Plan Area;

· Complements existing environmental protection by designating Local Landscape Policy Areas Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance and the Dunluce Area of Significant Archaeological Interest with associated policies for their protection from inappropriate development;

· Proposes Areas of Townscape Character in Armoy, Coleraine, Limavady and Portrush where appropriate design guidance will protect their existing character.

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