The Committee was advised that the application had previously been listed for Committee consideration on 16th February, 2021. The application had not been presented and was deferred for a site visit to be undertaken to allow the Committee to acquaint itself with the location and the proposal at first hand. A site visit for Members had taken place on 2nd March, 2021.
The Principal Planning officer provided the Committee with the key aspects of the application.
She reminded the Committee that it was up to the applicant to furnish the Authority with information, plans and drawings to demonstrate the acceptability of their proposal and that the applicant had failed to do that. The Members were advised that the sections and shadow analysis which had been received confirmed officers’ concerns regarding the unacceptability of the proposal in terms of scale, mass; limited separation and proximity to neighbours.
The Committee was advised that, on Monday, 1st March, the applicant had submitted additional information and an amended scheme. The amendments included:
· the creation of a point of access from the public street to all apartments;
· the reduction of overall numbers from 6 apartments to 5; The proposal had removed the ground floor apartment from 1 Canada Street and instead proposed that to be used as an access corridor to the proposed apartments, stores, bicycle parking and bin store located under the 1stfloor of 1 Canada Street which was previously proposed to be the entrance courtyard to the apartments;
· amendments to provide external bin access to the houses which backed onto it on Canada Street; the relocation of bin storage areas to a larger area where all bins could be accessed more easily to both apartments and to the street; and
· the bin access arrangements for the houses on My Lady’s Road maintained
The proposal of the amended scheme now included some changes to the elevations as well as work to properties outside the site address and ownership of the applicant.
The agent had also referred to other back lands developments in east Belfast which they deemed comparable to the proposal, however, officers felt that they were not directly comparable with the site.
The Principal Planning officer outlined that the proposal had removed the entrance courtyard and now provided an access corridor through the existing ground floor of 1 Canada Street. She explained that officers still had concerns regarding the layout, limited separation distances, the outlook and surveillance as outlined in the original case officer’s report.
In relation to amenity, it was acknowledged that the amenity garden area would be communal, however, it could not be considered private amenity space and would be overlooked by existing dwellings from Canada Street and London Road. Whilst a degree of overlooking was expected in any inner city location, she highlighted that the proposal would result in overlooking to an unacceptable degree, and would detrimentally impact on the residential amenity of prospective residents.
The Committee was advised that the scheme was not reflective of the character of the area and failed to provide a quality residential environment and was considered to be contrary to policies QD1 of PPS 7 and LC1 of the Addendum to PPS7. The proposal failed to maintain the character and appearance of the proposed ATC and was considered contrary to paragraphs 4.26 and 6.21 of the SPPS for NI.
The Committee was advised that NI Water and DFI Roads had offered no objection to the proposal, subject to conditions.
The Chairperson welcomed Councillor Dorrian to the meeting, who wished to address the Committee in support of the application. He outlined that:
· he was familiar with the site as it within his District Electoral Area and had been derelict for a number of years;
· it was a current hotspot for anti-social behavior;
· that residents in the area wanted to see regeneration of the site;
· he urged the Committee to support the scheme.
The Chairperson thanked Councillor Dorrian for his contribution.
He then welcomed Mr. N. Kohner, applicant, to the meeting. He advised the Committee that:
· he had tried to bring a positive change to the area with a good scheme to create highly desirable homes;
· he did not want to see the site continue as a wasteland;
· that, if the Committee was minded to refuse the application as per the officers’ recommendation, the Committee and the Planners would work with him to help regenerate the site.
A number of Members stated that they had sympathy with the applicant in that the site was a difficult space and was in need of development and encouraged further engagement with the Planners in respect of the site.
The Committee agreed to refuse the application and delegated power to the Director of Planning and Building Control for the final wording of the refusal reasons.