Agenda item


The Principal Planning officer presented the Committee with the details of the application.  She reminded the Members that it had initially been submitted before the Committee on 15th February, 2022 but that it had been deferred for a site visit to take place on 3rd March, 2022. The application was subsequently presented to the Committee on the 15th March, 2022. At that meeting, the Committee had agreed to defer consideration of the application to allow the applicant to reconsider the issues which had been raised by officers, including parking and amenity concerns.


            The Committee was advised that the applicant had submitted amendments to the scheme following the previous Committee meeting, in anattempt to address the concerns which had been raised by officers.


With regards to parking, the number of parking spaces had been reduced from 11 to 7 resulting in a reduced amount of hard standing on the site. DFI Roads had provided further comment and had offered no objections.


In relation to the amenity space, as a result of the reduction in parking spaces, she explained that the communal amenity space provision had increased from 263.1sqm to 418.9sqm. She outlined that that had resulted in an increase from 23.9sqm per apartment to 38.08sqm per apartment. The Committee was advised that while the quantum was in excess of the guidance, the scale and height of the building was such that the significant areas of the space would be over shadowed for parts of the day, which would detract from its value. In addition, she advised that the scheme did not offer any private amenity space.


The Committee was advised that the scheme included additional tree planting to the rear of numbers 31 and 33 Parkside Gardens.  The Tree officer was content with the tree proposal arrangements.


She explained that the amended plans illustrated that the outlook for the south facing apartments had been altered to include obscured glazing to habitable rooms. As the windows were located in habitable rooms, such as kitchens/dining areas, she highlighted that it would be unreasonable to use obscure glazing and would impact the quality of the living environment. The use of obscured glazing to habitable rooms was an indication of over development.


The Members were advised that the bin collection area had been repositioned to a hard standing area close to the entrance point of the site.


The Committee was advised that NI Water had raised concerns with capacity issues, though an engineering solution was possible. She explained that that solution would be subject to agreement with NI Water.


The Principal Planning officer outlined that not all issues had been resolved, in that the scale and massing remained the same as the previous plan, there would still be potential for overlooking from apartments 4, 7, 8 and 11 and that there was still no private amenity space for residents.


The Chairperson welcomed Mr. T. Bell, agent, Mr. B. Kerr, Newington Housing Association, and Mr. R. Dougan, Architect, to the meeting.  Mr. Bell advised the Committee that:


·        the Case officer’s report stated that while the communal amenity space now exceeded guidance levels, it then undermined the point by suggesting that there would be overshadowing for parts of the day;

·        there was no counter evidence to support that view and that the generous amenity areas exceeded the upper guidance limit by 8sqm per unit, they were both south facing and were beside a public park;

·        Creating Places policy was clear in that it did not require private amenity space in apartments and that private communal space was deemed acceptable;

·        regarding the proposed obscured glazing, he advised the Members that there were three other unobscured windows in the same room of the two units impacted, thereby providing adequate outlook and daylight;

·        the report stated that there would be unacceptable overlooking and perception of dominance. The separation distances exceeded minimum and were south facing from the obscured glazing façade 12.8m and from the set back 16.2metres from the common boundary;

·        the proposal was of a reduced density from Alexandra Avenue and Parkend Street and, in any case, it was an inner city urban location with 2.5 storey blocks;

·        the proposal was policy and no objections were received from third parties.


Mr. Kerr advised the Committee that:


·        Newington Housing Association had been interested in regenerating the area for 15 years;

·        the amount of communal amenity space was now far greater, per unit, than the majority of other housing schemes; and

·        the regeneration of the site would assist in addressing the significant social housing waiting list in North Belfast.


In response to a query raised by Mr. Bell, the Principal Planning officer advised the Committee that amended elevations had been received from the developer in March, which showed an addition onto the front of the building, but that they had not been accompanied by amended floor plans.


A Member stated that they felt that the applicant had addressed his previous concerns in respect of reducing the large amount of hard standing to the front of the property, with additional amenity space now included.  He added that he felt that the obscured glazing in one window of certain properties had been added to address the overlooking concerns were compliant with Policy QD1 of PPS7.


A further Member stated that Newington Housing Association was an extremely credible organisation which worked with the community in which it was developing sites and that the amendments to improve the application were to be welcomed.



Moved by Councillor Murphy

Seconded by Councillor Maskey


That the Committee approves the application as it considers that it complies with Policy QD1 of PPS7 and grants delegated authority to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of the conditions.


            On a vote, seven Members voted for the proposal, four against, with three no votes, and accordingly it was declared carried.


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