Contact: Louise McLornan, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Councillor Nicholl.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors O’Hara declared an interest in relation to item 2(b) LA04/2020/0010/F, in that he was a member of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
LA04/2017/2341/O - Demolition, redevelopment and part change of use to create a mixed use development comprising retail, offices, cafe/restaurant, residential, hotel, cultural/community space, parking, servicing, access and circulation arrangements, the creation of new streets, the configuration of Writers Square, public realm works, landscaping and associated site and road works including works to alter listed buildings, restoration of retained listed buildings and facades, and partial demolition of North Street Arcade, retaining its facades on land bounded by Royal Avenue, York Street and Church Street to the North; North Street to the west; Rosemary Street to the south and High Street to the south; and Donegall Street to the east. The site is located approximately 300m west of Laganside Bus Station, 300m northeast of City Hall and 900m north west of Central Train Station PDF 10 MB
The Committee was reminded that it had originally considered the application at its meeting on 21st January, 2020 following a Pre Determination Hearing on 16th December, 2020. The Committee had resolved to approve the application with conditions and a Section 76 planning agreement, delegated to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording. Under the Planning (Notification of Applications) Direction 2017, it was also necessary to notify the Department for Infrastructure (DFI) because the resolution to approve the application was contrary to the views of the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division (DFC HED), a statutory consultee. The application was notified to the Department on 23rd January, 2020. DFI provided its response on 6th May, 2020, confirming that it did not consider it necessary for the application to be referred to it for determination. The application was subject to a second Pre- Determination hearing held on 28th July, 2020 and then considered by the Planning Committee later the same day.
The Senior Planning Officer reminded the Committee that, at its meeting on 28th July, it had agreed to defer consideration of the outline application so that further information could be provided on the following:
· the social housing element of the scheme, including the suitability of Academy Street;
· amenity/open space provision – with a focus on the creation of new open space;
· the economic impact and the Gross Value Added (GVA) detail;
· the car clubs; and
· the Section 76 negotiations.
She provided the Committee with an overview of the outline application for a mixed-use scheme comprising offices, 367 residential units, restaurants/cafes, a hotel, retail units on the ground floor and cultural and community space.
She informed the Committee that, after the agenda had been published, the following representations had been received from supporters and objectors, and drew Members attention to the response of the Planning Department, as set out in the Late Items Report Pack:
· Agent – confirmation of the removal of a clause in relation to an alternative Housing agreement in the Section 76 Agreement;
· Letter of Support from Retail NI; and
· Joint objection from The Belfast Cathedral Board, The Cathedral Quarter Trust, Killycrot Estates and Save CQ raising the following issues: Concerns regarding overshadowing, misrepresented facts and under played the concerns raised by civic objectors, procedure was not evident in the visual presentation at the meeting, scale and massing, disposal of land, flawed planning process, extant permission is widely considered to be commercially unrealisable and therefore poses no risk of being built, incorrect interpretation of open space and public realm, economics claims, and suggested further photo montages should be provided at eye level, conducted and checked by independent architects.
The Planning Manager (Development Management) advised that, in relation to the location of the social housing and relocation of Choice Facility, following the Committee Meeting on 28th July, the applicant had agreed to remove the option of providing the 10% social housing and relocated Choice facility to a site within 300m of the application site. He explained ... view the full minutes text for item 3a
The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 18th August, it had deferred consideration of the application to allow a representative from the Department for Infrastructure (DFI), Roads to attend, in order to answer questions surrounding the number of trips associated with the application and the trigger for providing mitigating roads infrastructure.
The Planning Manager provided an overview of the application to the Committee.
He informed the Committee that, after the agenda had been published, the following representations had been received from 2 objectors, and a further objection from Ards and North Down Borough Council in addition to their earlier objection detailed in previous late items dated 25th August, 2020:
· Negative impact on Exploris, tourism and other businesses in Portaferry and Ards Peninsula;
· Contrary of Regional Planning Strategy and PPS16 as the proposal did not safeguard a tourism asset and would damage rural tourism;
· Queries in relation to the rationale of the DfI Roads request to reflect a sensitivity test to include an increase of 25% in the final trip rates, of using survey figures from similar projects which were conducted in 2005 and 2006; trips and figures quoted; whether DfI Roads had reviewed annual monitoring figures for other approvals in the area; Traffic congestion on Queen’s Road; the Transport Assessment Form (TAF); whether the proposed opening of the proposal would be affected by the pandemic and lack of secure funding; the response of the Economic Development Officer; and the employment of aquarists.
The Planning Manager outlined the response of the Planning Service to the aforementioned issues raised, as set out in the Late Items Report Pack. He concluded that the proposal was acceptable having regard to the Development Plan and relevant policies, including Policy AMP10 of PPS3, given the extant use of the site as a car park, and other material considerations.
During discussion, regarding a concern raised by a Member in relation to the tone and material of the façade of the application, the Planning Manager stated that the final finish of the materials would be agreed in consultation with the HED and conservation officer.
He stated that, if the Committee approved the application, a condition to require the full implementation of the permanent landscaping and public realm works within 3 years of operation, together with a condition to ensure that the Planning Service was consulted on the tone and material of the façade, prior to construction, would be applied.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. L. Walsh and Mr. C. Dickinson to the meeting, representing the Department for Infrastructure.
Mr. Walsh reiterated that the DfI was content with the application and that the aforementioned Late Objection did not change that recommendation. He explained the sensitivity test of 25% in trip rates was a positive, as actually meant that more robust analysis had taken place and the traffic growth surveys, which had recently taken place, had shown the traffic growth in the area had been less than predicted. In relation to the queries regarding the Queen’s Rd junction, ... view the full minutes text for item 3b