The Planning Manager provided the Committee with an overview of the details of major application.
He outlined the key issues which had been considered in the assessment of the proposed development, including the principle of hotel and café use at the location, the impact on built heritage and the principle of demolition in the conservation area, scale, height, massing and design, the impact on traffic and parking, site drainage, the consideration of economic benefits, amenity and developers contributions.
The Members were advised that the site was located within the city centre, the Commercial Character Area and the Linen Conservation Area.
He reminded the Committee that it had previously considered the application at its meeting on 13th October, 2020, when it had resolved to approve it, subject to notification to the Department for Infrastructure (DFI). The Members were reminded that, the notification had been necessary because the resolution to approve the application was contrary to the views of a statutory consultee, the Historic Environment Division (HED).
DFI had since advised the Council that it did not consider it necessary for the application to be referred to it for determination and nor did the associated application for Conservation Area Consent. He pointed out that the Committee had held a Pre Determination Hearing on the application immediately prior to the commencement of the monthly meeting.
The Planning Manager reminded the Committee that, since its meeting of 13th October, 2020, one additional objection had been received from Belfast Civic Trust, raising issues regarding the height of the new build portion of the proposal, the design of the new build portion and that the proposal detracted from the streetscape of the Linen Conservation Area. He advised that the issues had been addressed within the Case Officers report.
The Committee was advised that DfI Roads, Environmental Health, the NI Environment Agency, Rivers Agency, Historic Environment Division (HED) and NI Water had all been consulted, in addition to the Urban Design Officer, the Conservation Officer, the Economic Development unit and the City Regeneration and Development Team within BCC.
The Planning Manager explained that both HED and the Conservation Officer were content with the design and proposed interventions to the front terrace, however, they maintained an objection to the 13-storey element on the basis of height, in that they felt it was too dominant on the existing listed building. The Committee was advised that officers felt that the design was respectful to its surrounding environment.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Late Items pack, whereby the applicant had advised that it was no longer objecting to the proposed noise condition and understood that it would be included on any decision notice issued by the Council.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. B. McKervey, Historic Environment Division (HED) to the meeting. He advised that HED felt that the impact of the 13 storey element would be very dominant, particularly on the approach from Ormeau Avenue, and that it was inappropriate.
A number of Members stated that they had concerns regarding the proposed materials to be used for the tall tower and that they felt due regard had not been given to the concerns raised by the Conservation officer and HED.
The Planning Manger explained that the Council, as part of the discharge of condition process, would consult HED, the Conservation officer and the Urban Design officer in relation to the materials proposed and that the samples would be required to be viewed on site.
In response to a further Member’s comments regarding the conditions which were attached to planning permission in relation to the materials used, the Director of Planning and Building Control assured the Committee that enforcement action by officers in respect of the materials to be used had increased over the past number of years. He added that a condition in relation to seeing a sample of the materials on site was to ensure that the sheen and tone of the material, for example, would fit in with the surrounding area and that they were deemed of appropriate quality by officers.
In response to a Member’s query regarding the rationale for the 90 day stay limit, the Planning Manager pointed out that the emerging Local Development Plan (LDP) included the same guidance. The Director of Planning and Building Control added that a 90 day limit was widely used by planning authorities in London boroughs.
Moved by Councillor Groogan,
Seconded by Councillor Matt Collins,
That the Committee agrees to refuse the application as it is contrary to policies BH 11 and 12 of PPS 6, in that the height, scale and massing of the proposed thirteen storey building, in relation to the listed buildings and to the Conservation Area, is inappropriate, and would detract from them, and delegates power to the Director of Planning and Building Control for the final wording of the refusal reasons.
On a vote, five members voted for the proposal and six against and it was declared lost.
Moved by Councillor Hussey,
Seconded by Councillor McCullough,
That the Committee agrees to grant approval to the application, subject to the imposing of the conditions set out within the case officer’s report and delegates power to the Director of Planning and Building Control for the final wording of the conditions.
On a vote, seven members voted for the proposal and five against and it was declared carried.