The Senior Planning officer reminded the Committee that, in February 2020, it had granted permission for the mixed use regeneration and development of a vacant surface level car park and the refurbishment of an existing listed Butchers building, with the erection of new fixed use buildings of between 3 and 9 storeys. He explained that the permission comprised basement level car parking, ground floor retail/restaurant /coffeeshop/workspace uses, with Grade A and SME offices above (LA04/2018/2470/O). The Committee was advised that the principle of the proposed uses and form of the development had already been established through the recent outline planning permission and that the current Reserved Matters application sought approval for the detailed plans and elevations
He outlined the key issues which had been considered in the assessment of the proposed development.
The Members were advised that the site was zoned as an opportunity site in the Draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (Draft BMAP 2004 and 2015), and that it was considered that the proposal would develop part of a surface level car park with a piece of high quality architecture heavily influenced by the industrial heritage of the area, creating a well-defined public space and providing a landmark building on one of the main arterial routes into the city centre, North Street.
The Senior Planning officer outlined that the northern section of the city centre had suffered from dereliction and a lack of investment. He explained that it was felt that the proposal would help stimulate the wider regeneration of this part of the city, which had recently been boosted with the arrival of the Ulster University’s city centre campus, and proposals to redevelop the former Royal Exchange. The Committee was advised that the high quality finishes and subtleties in design were considered to pay homage to the historical context and would combine with the adjacent proposal (LA04/2020/0325/F) to create a landmark cluster, high quality public realm and a sense of place within a currently undefined part of the city centre.
The Members were advised that no objections or third party representations had been received. The Senior Planning officer highlighted that Shared Environmental Services, DFI Roads, Rivers Agency, Environmental Health, DAERA Waste Management, Building Control and the Urban Design officer had no objections subject to conditions. He advised that the Historic Environment Division (HED) had requested further information.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Late Items pack. The Historic Environment Division (HED) had sought confirmation of the height of the listed building in relation to proposed shoulder height on Gresham Street, contextual views to show the setback on upper floors, alternative roofscape on Gresham Street and details of finishes to the ‘Sawtooth Building’.
The Senior Planning officer explained that HED had been re-consulted with points addressing their response, including 3D visuals. He outlined that officers were of the opinion that sufficient information had been provided within the application pack to enable an informed assessment. He highlighted that the heights had been established through the outline approval, and that the heights proposed were within those parameters.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. T. Stokes, agent, to the meeting. He emphasised that he had engaged in a number of design workshops with planners which he felt had resulted in a high quality proposal and an exciting regeneration project for the Smithfield area.
The Committee granted approval to the application, subject to the imposing of the conditions and delegated power to the Director of Planning and Building Control for the final wording of the conditions and resolving any issues as appropriate following the further consultation with HED.