The Members considered the undernoted report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report and Summary of Main Issues
1.1 This report was originally scheduled for consideration at the meeting of the Planning Committee members on 15 June. However, it was deferred to give Members more time to consider the report and documentation. It was also agreed to request that the Department for Infrastructure engages with local residents on the proposed S76 planning agreement. Officers have since put this request to the Department. The Department has also been invited to attend the meeting of the Planning Committee members on 24 June 2021 to field any questions that Members may have about the proposed S76 and process.
1.2 The original report to the 15 June meeting is reproduced below.
1.3 The Council has received correspondence from the Department for Infrastructure (the Department) in relation to planning application LA04/2017/0474/F for the redevelopment of Casement Park to provide a new stadium. The proposal is of regional significance and the application is being dealt with by the Department rather than Belfast City Council.
1.4 In accordance with Section 76(3) of The Planning (Northern Ireland) Act 2011, the Department is consulting the Council, seeking its comments on the draft Section 76 Planning Agreement (S76) negotiated with the applicant, Ulster Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA). The draft S76 includes clauses relating to the appointment of a Stadium Manager, Travel Plan Co-ordinator, Event Safety Manager, Event Management Group and Traffic Management Contractors. There are also clauses regarding economic requirements for employment and ongoing monitoring.
2.1 It is recommended that the Chief Executive, or her nominated officer, uses her delegated authority to offer no objection to the proposed S76 as set out in the Department’s letter of 10 June 2021 and respond to any further changes to the proposed S76 Planning Agreement, provided that those changes are of a minor or technical nature.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 The Council has received correspondence from the Department in relation to planning application LA04/2017/0474/F for the redevelopment of Casement Park to provide a new stadium (see Appendix 1). The proposal is of regional significance and the application is being dealt with by the Department rather than Belfast City Council. The Department is formally consulting the Council, seeking its views on the proposed S76 (see Appendix 2). The Department has given the Council six weeks to respond i.e. by 22 July 2021, hence reporting this matter to the Committee as a late item.
3.2 The Council provided its substantive consultation response to the planning application in August 2017. The Planning Committee offered no objection to the application but made the following specific comments:
· Further detailed cross sections through the entire site and surrounding properties were recommended
· Further images to demonstrate impact on the skyline and key views were recommended
· Greater certainty around travel, transport and traffic should be provided.
3.3 The application was considered by the Planning Committee again in September 2019 following reconsultation. The Committee agreed to provide no further comments but that the Director of Planning and Building Control would write to the Department and recommend that the residents’ association known as MORA be given the opportunity to meet the Department and discuss their concerns.
3.4 A final consultation was undertaken in February 2020 in relation to technical information regarding traffic and access. As the additional information was limited, the matter was dealt with under delegated powers with no further comment provided.
3.5 The Department subsequently issued a Notice of Opinion in November 2020 advising of its intention to grant planning permission and listing the proposed conditions. The Planning Service responded to the Notice of Opinion advising that the Council is content for the Department to proceed with determination of the planning application.
3.6 The Department further consulted the Council on 17 May 2021 regarding proposed changes to conditions 14 and 36. The Department was seeking the Council’s agreement to these changes so that the drafting of the S76 could be finalised.
3.7 The proposed changes were presented to the Committee in May 2021. No objections were offered and it was also agreed that delegated authority is given to officers to respond to any further changes to the proposed conditions, provided that those changes are of a minor or technical nature.
3.8 The current consultation relates to the Department’s draft S76. The obligations contained in the draft S76 are as follows:
· Appointment of a Stadium Manager;
· Appointment of a Travel Plan Co-Ordinator;
· Appointment of an Event Safety Manager;
· Appointment of an Event Management Group;
· Appointment of a Traffic Management Contractors;
· Economic Development (clauses requiring at least 46 Long-term unemployed and at least 27 apprentices to be employed in the construction of the development);
· Submission of an Annual Performance Report, and;
· Payment of an annual Service Contribution to the Department.
· The draft agreement also sets out at Annex 7, the Resident Representative Appointment process to the Event Management Group.
3.9 Additional documents attached as annexes to the draft S76 and referred to in the above clauses (see Appendix 2) include:
· The Event Management Plan
· The draft Decision Notice
· Sustainable Travel Plan
· List of Travel Plan Co-ordinator duties
3.10 It is considered that the the draft S76 addresses the key issues for a development of this scale including event management, traffic management, sustainable transport, sustainable employment and ongoing monitoring.
3.11 Officers consider that the clauses are in principle appropriate, reasonable and necessary to ensure a satisfactory form of development. It should be for the Department’s legal advisors to advise of the appropriateness of the precise wording of the S76.
3.12 It is recommended that the Chief Executive, or her nominated officer, uses her delegated authority to offers no objection to the proposed S76 as set out in the Department’s letter of 10 June 2021, and respond to any further changes to the proposed S76 Planning Agreement, provided that those changes are of a minor or technical nature.
4.0 Finance and Resource Implications
4.1 None identified.
5.0Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
The Members’ attention was drawn to the Late Items pack. The Planning Manager explained that, following the meeting on 15th June, officers had written to the Department for Infrastructure, requesting that it would share the draft Section 76 Agreement with residents to seek their views. Officers had also asked a representative from DFI to attend the meeting on 24th June to answer any technical or procedural questions that Members might have had around the proposed Section 76 agreement.
The Members were advised that the Department had responded on 21st June and advised that it would not be consulting the public on the proposed Section 76 Agreement and that it had fulfilled its consultation duties in relation to the application in accordance with legislative requirements. The Department outlined that it had no objection to the Council seeking views from the public. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, the Department was unable to attend the meeting.
The Planning Manager reported that the proposed Section 76 Agreement and the associated procedures had been considered by the Planning Service, Health and Safety (which was responsible for Safety Certificates for sporting venues), Building Control (which was responsible for large scale entertainment events) and Legal Services. He explained that it was considered that the proposed arrangements, including those relating to how local representatives were selected to sit on the Event Management Group were reasonable. In addition to local residents and businesses being represented, those statutory agencies responsible for safety at and around the venue were also proposed to be members of the Group.
He outlined that a proposed amendment was suggested in relation to the Travel Plan Co-Ordinator Duties, set out in Annex 6 of the Agreement. In terms of litter and anti-social behaviour, the draft currently stated that the Travel Plan Co-Ordinator (‘TPC’) would be “required to deliver appropriate proposals as agreed with Belfast City Council to address these issues”. It was recommended that this would be revised as follows:
“The TPC will be responsible for putting in place arrangements to effectively deal with litter and any other anti-social behaviour associated with the operation of the venue in consultation with the EMG subject to any reasonable advice or requirements imposed by the Council in writing.”
The Members were advised that, in relation to the substantive issue regarding public consultation, Legal Services noted that the legislation had clearly set out how it expected Planning Authorities to carry out public consultation in the course of determining a planning application. There was an express requirement for DfI to consult with a Council where it intended to enter into a Section 76 Agreement in its district, which was in addition to the standard consultation requirements. In that context it was considered that embarking upon a non-statutory public consultation without any established process in place by which to do and in circumstances where the decision maker itself had carried out a consultation process, would leave the Council highly susceptible to legal challenge from both from the planning applicant and those dissatisfied with the consultation process devised by Council.
A Member stated that they had concerns in light of the fact that DFI would not be consulting the residents on the Section 76 Agreement, and that DFI had not been able to attend the meeting in order to discuss concerns. He highlighted concerns with parking and the Event Management Plan. He suggested that the Members could defer consideration of the Section 76 Agreement in order to request that a representative from DFI would attend a future meeting in order to discuss his concerns.
Further Members stated that the process had taken a significant period of time to date and that they were content with the contents of the Section 76 Agreement.
In response to further comments, the Planning Manager and the Divisional Solicitor advised the Members that they could submit separate comments to the consultation as elected representatives or as a Political Party.
The Members of the Committee recommended that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May 2021, the Chief Executive would exercise her delegated authority to:
· offer no objection to the proposed Section 76 Planning Agreement, as set out in the Department’s letter of 10th June 2021, subject to the proposed amendment in relation to the Travel Plan Co-Ordinator Duties as set out in the Late Items report; and
· to respond to any further changes to the proposed PlanningAgreement, provided that they were of a minor or technical nature.