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3A Killycolp Road
Cookstown, Northern Ireland, BT80 9AD
United Kingdom


NEST ARCHITECTS, a vibrant, design led architectural practice located in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, is committed to creating exciting contemporary residential architecture throughout Ireland and the UK.

Planning Permission for Dwellings in the Countryside

In this blog we outline the different options available in line with PPS21 to achieve planning approval for a new build in the countryside.

Nest Architects - Cookstown - Dungannon - Omagh - Moy - Coalisland - Strabane - Magherafelt - Tyrone - Belfast - Northern Ireland - UK

Nest Architects - Planning For Dwellings in the Countryside


In this blog we will offer a brief insight as to what planning approval is required for and continue to summarise the different Planning Policies available as possible avenues for those looking for a new one-off, bespoke dwelling planning application in the countryside.

The purpose of planning is to secure the orderly and consistent development of land whilst furthering sustainable development and improving well-being thus positively and proactively facilitating development that contributes to a more socially economically and environmentally sustainable Northern Ireland. Therefore, it is simple to conclude that everything and anything being developed requires planning approval and this is something Nest Architects can assist you with in navigating through the many policies and regulations to gain a successful planning approval for your future nest.

On 1st of April 2015 the long awaited reform of Local Government in Northern Ireland took place reducing the once 26 councils to 11 'Super Councils' with the idea to create a stronger more efficient services.  This resulted in the transfer of planning powers from the planning department to the 11 Council Offices which are:

·         Antrim and Newtownabbey District.

·         Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District.

·         Belfast District.

·         Causeway Coast and Glens District.

·         Derry and Strabane District.

·         Fermanagh and Omagh District.

·         Lisburn and Castlereagh District.

·         Mid and East Antrim District.

·         Mid Ulster District.

·         Newry, Mourne and Down District

·         North Down and Ards District.

Planning Super Councils, Northern Ireland - Nest Architects

PPS 21: Sustainable Development in the Countryside

PPS 21 was brought in to effect from the 1st of June 2010 outlining planning policies for development within Northern Ireland's Countryside with the objective to manage growth and developmentwhilst striking a balance between the need to protect the environment and sustaining a strong and vibrant rural community.  There are several options available within the PPS 21 for gaining a successful planning approval for new dwellings depending on site contextand location as outlined below.

Policy CTY2a : New Dwellings in Existing Clusters

Policy CTY2a refers to new dwellings in an existing cluster of dwellings. Very specific characteristics must be apparent as requirements for a successful planning application under this policy, which unfortunately occur rarelythroughout Northern Ireland. Those requirements are as follows:

·         The cluster of development lies outside of a farm and consists of four or more buildings of which must consist of at least three dwellings;

·         It must appear as a visual entity in the landscape and the cluster is associated with a focal point such as a social / community building facility or is located at a cross-road;

·         The identified site must provide a certain degree of enclosure and is bounded on at least two sides with other development in the cluster;

·         The development of the site should not significantly alter its existing character or visually intrude into the open countryside;

·         The development must not adversely affect residential amenities

Policy CTY3 : Replacement Dwellings

Policy CTY3 refers to planning applications available for replacement dwellings and, like other Planning Policies, has a set of criteria that must be fulfilled to have planning permission granted. Planning states that the building to be replaced must exhibit the essential characteristics of a dwelling, have available access to a public road that is safe for road users,  and as a minimum all external structural walls are substantially intact.

The phrase 'substantially intact' is a grey area, but having been tested in the planning appeals commission it is safe to assume that 90% or more intact external walls would be regarded as a fulfilment to this criteria.

Policy CTY4: The Conversion and Reuse of Existing Buildings

Policy CTY4 refers to the conversion and reuse of existing building with the deceptively simple essential criteria that the building needs to be of permanent construction with proposals demonstrating sympathetic conversion of the existing, ultimately securing its upkeep and retention. Generally the policy has been written specifically about older buildings like barns, schools etc with the intent that any proposed works would maintain or enhance the form, character and architectural features of the existing without any adverse effect on the character or appearance of the locality.  Extensions to these buildings is also possible under this policy with precedents of extensions being as big as the existing building. Additional criteria for this policy are as follows:

·         The reuse or conversion would not unduly affect the amenities of nearby residents or adversely affect the continued agricultural use of adjoining land or buildings;

·         All necessary services are available or can be provided without significant adverse impact on the environment or character of the locality;

·         Access to the public road will not prejudice road safety or significantly inconvenience the flow of traffic.

Policy CTY8 : Ribbon Devlopement (Gap Infill Sites)

Policy CTY8 refers to planning applications available for Gap Infill Sites.  In the countryside planning will reject any application that creates or adds to a ribbon of development. There is however the exception for development on small infill gap sites which is sufficient to accommodate up to a maximum of two houses within a substantial and continuously built up frontage. The definition of a substantial and continuously built up frontage consists of a line of 3 or more buildings along a road frontage without accompanying development to the rear. The criteria for the proposed house type to accommodate these infill sites requires the proposed dwellings to respect the existing development pattern along the frontage in terms of size, scale, sitting and plot size whilst meeting other planning and environmental requirements.

Policy CTY10: Dwellings on Farms

Policy CTY10 refers to planning applications available for new dwellings on a farm, a policy most farmers are aware of but not 100% sure of the criteria required for obtaining planning permission. To be applicable for this planning approach the following requirements must be fulfilled:

·         Your farm business must be currently active and have been established for at least 6 years;

·         New dwellings must be visually linked or sited to cluster with an established group of buildings on your farm;

·         Where practicable, access to the dwelling should be obtained from an existing lane;

·         New planning applications for a dwelling on a farm will only be forthcoming once every 10 years.

The last point listed above will be of most interest to those who have previously already had a dwelling on a farm application approved and would like to apply for a second dwelling on a farm, possibly for another child to build their own future home or even to be sold on for financial relief.

Although it states that planning permissions granted under this policy will only be forthcoming once every 10 years, many farmers are not aware that any application approved prior to November 2008 does not count under this policy, meaning that if you had planning permission granted early 2008, you do not have to wait until 2018 or later to apply for your second site.

It is also worth noting that consideration may be given to an alternative site elsewhere on the farm, provided there are no other sites available at another group of buildings on the farm or out-farm, and where there are demonstrable health and safety reasons or verifiable plans to expand the farm business at the existing building group(s).

Contact Nest Architects

If you feel you have a site and would like some design advice and planning assistance in submitting an application, or have any further questions on the above policies, we at Nest Architects would be more than welcomed to assist you with a professional planning and architectural service. 


3a Killycolp Road,




172 Tates Avenue,


BT12 6ND


028 8676 5228

02892 445 445