Agenda item


(Councillor Murphy returned to the meeting at this point)


            Moved by Councillor O’Hara

            Seconded by Councillor Collins,


      That the Committee agrees to defer consideration of the application to allow the Department for Communities to attend the meeting, in order to discuss the loss of open space


            On a vote, five Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was declared lost.


            Accordingly, the Committee proceeded to consider the application.


            The Principal Planning officer provided the Committee with the details of the major application.  He explained that the large site was known as “The Bullring", and was located parallel to the Westlink motorway and adjacent to Denmark Street/California Close between Peters Hill and Regent Street, Belfast. It was an area of open space, characterised by variety of trees and pathways.


            The Members were advised that the site was unzoned white land within Draft BMAP 2004 and BMAP 2015 and, the BUAP 2001.  He explained that the proposal was considered to comply with the SPPS, BUAP, dBMAP 2015, PPS 2, PPS 3, PPS 6, PPS 8, and PPS 15.


            He explained the key issues which had been considered during the assessment included the principle of use on the site, design and layout, impact on natural heritage, access, movement, parking and transportation, impact on built heritage, flood risk, landscaping and other environmental factors.


            The Committee was advised that Environmental Health, NI Water, BCC Parks and Recreation, DFI Roads, DFI Rivers, DAERA Water Management Unit, DAERA Regulation Unit and the Natural Environment Division had been consulted and had raised no issues of concern, subject to conditions, and had deemed the proposal acceptable.


            He explained that a final response had been received from the BCC Tree Officer after the Case officer’s report had been published and the Committee’s attention was drawn to the Late Items pack.  He advised that correspondence had been received from the agent in response to comments which had been made by the BCC Tree Officers regarding the loss of trees on the site.  The agent advised that, since one of the main objectives of the project was to increase visibility and reduce anti-social behaviour, removal of the existing large earth mounds was required, to regrade the site to ground profile, thereby providing unrestricted visibility across the site.  Due to the significant earthworks required it would not be possible to retain or thin existing trees across the entire site.  The agent also noted the recommendation for transplanting existing trees and that it would incorporated into the scheme at Upper Townsend Terrace and Peter’s Hill/Shankill Terrace.


            The Principal Planning officer confirmed that officers felt that it was a balance between retaining the vegetation and opening up and enhancing the space and that the agent would submit a further landscaping plan and that the Tree officer would be consulted again in relation to it.


            The Chairperson advised the Committee that Mr. T. Sloan and Mr. P. Murray, agents for the application, were in attendance.  A Member stated that they wished to ask the Department for Communities a policy question in relation to the shared cycle and pedestrian pathway through the scheme.  The agents were unable to provide the information.


            A Member queried what the loss of open space would be as a result of the MUGA and 6 car parking spaces; the total number of trees on site before and after the scheme; and the reason for the wayleave requirement from DFI, of 3 metres, along the Westlink.


            In response, the Principal Planning officer advised the Committee that:


·      a MUGA fell within the definition of open space under PPS8, so the only open space lost would be the 6 car parking spaces and that such ancillary uses were permitted;

·      he did not have information relating to the total number of trees on site, but that the agent had advised that the addition of trees on the site was not possible, as the proposal was to make it a more usable functional space, but that they would look at transplanting existing trees within the site; and

·      the 3metre wayleave was a technical matter which prevented planting along the boundary along the edge of the Westlink.


            In response to a further Member’s question, the Director of Planning and Building Control confirmed that, if there was an outstanding objection from the Tree officer following the submission of the final landscaping plan submission, it could be brought back to Committee.


            Moved by Councillor Groogan

            Seconded by Councillor Collins,


      That the Committee agrees to grant approval to the application, subject to there being no outstanding objections from the Tree officer after the further iteration of the landscaping plan has been submitted by the agent, and, if any concerns are raised by the Tree officer, that the application be brought back to the Committee.


            On a vote, five Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was declared lost.


            The officer’s recommendation to approve the application, with delegated authority

given to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of conditions, subject to no new substantive planning issues being raised by consultees and third parties, was put to the Committee and it was agreed.


            (The Committee adjourned for a five minute break at this point in proceedings)


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