The Planning Manager provided the Members with an overview of the application for a 103 bed care home.
He explained that, in the BUAP, the site was located within the development limit of Belfast and was not zoned for any use. In draft BMAP 2004 and 2015 the site was located within the Belfast Metropolitan/Settlement development limit and was not zoned for any specific use.
He outlined the issues which had been considered during the assessment, including the impact on the Conservation Area, the height, scale and massing, the impact on the surrounding amenity, the impact on the setting of the listed King’s Hall, access, movement and parking, environmental issues and drainage and flood risk.
The Committee was advised that six objections had been received, raising concerns relating to the access arrangements from Balmoral Avenue, the impact of the proposal on surrounding development and that the scale of development was out of keeping with the surrounding area. The Planning Manager advised that the Balmoral Avenue access arrangements had been approved as part of Phase 1 of the King’s Hall redevelopment and were already under construction.
He added that DFI Roads was content with the proposed access arrangements from Balmoral Avenue to serve the site. The Members were advised that the siting of the proposed development had sought to maximise the separation distances between it and adjacent properties, which were considered to be sufficient, to ensure that no adverse impact would result to neighbouring amenity.
He drew the Committee’s attention to the Late Items pack, whereby DFI Roads had submitted a further consultation response to an objection. DFI Roads had confirmed that it remained content that the access was acceptable, as laid out in its earlier response. DFI Roads had also advised that a site visit had taken place as well as an online meeting to discuss and clarify the outstanding issues and concerns raised by the objector, and that all relevant engineering and safety information was available on the Planning Portal.
The Committee was advised that HED, NI Water, Rivers Agency, Regulation Unit Land and Groundwater Team, Natural Environment Division, Environmental Health and the Tree officer had also been consulted and had no objections to the proposal subject to conditions.
The Planning Manager explained that discussions were ongoing with the applicant as to the appropriate mechanism by which to secure the restoration of the Listed King’s Hall from wider development within the King’s Hall complex and the potential requirement to include conditions linking the restoration of the King’s Hall to that specific development. Those conditions had already been applied to the Phase 1 Kings Hall proposals which were under construction. As such, he explained that delegated authority to the Director of Planning and Building Control was being sought to finalise the proposed conditions and the Section 76 planning agreement, subject to no new substantive planning issues being raised by third parties.
He explained that the applicant had worked with officers and had changed the design in response to what officers believed was a more attractive building, with use of natural materials.
The Chairperson welcomed Ms. E. Walker, agent, to the meeting. She explained that the care home access, off Balmoral Avenue, had been designed specifically to accommodate the independent living facility and the care home. The design had taken account of the amenity of neighbouring properties, with a separation distance of 57metres from the rear of the care home and of 31 metres from properties on Harberton Park. No habitable rooms were proposed for the rear elevation and a landscape buffer was also proposed. Detailed consultation had taken place with statutory consultees, none of whom had objections, and that HED was content that the proposal would not affect the setting of the listed King’s Hall.
A Member expressed a concern regarding the proposed visibility splays on Balmoral Avenue, which were less than half of the recommended 30metres. The Planning Manager explained that the permission for the access had already been approved under Phase 1 of the scheme. He advised the Committee that, as it had not met the standards, an independent safety audit was commissioned by DFI Roads, and, on balance, it was considered to be acceptable and therefore DFI Roads had no objection. In relation to additional traffic, he added that the nature of a care home would not indicate 9am-5pm use and would not therefore add to peak traffic levels.
In response to a further Member’s question, the Planning Manager confirmed that a Travel Plan had been submitted in relation to green travel measures and that the Section 76 Agreement would secure the employability and skills elements associated with the site.
The officer’s recommendation to approve the application, subject to conditions as outlined in the addendum report, with authority delegated to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of the conditions subject to no new substantive planning issues being raised by third parties, was put to the Committee.
On a vote, twelve Members voted for the proposal and one against and it was declared carried.