The Principal Planning Officer outlined the proposal to the Committee and explained that it included improvements to the existing adjacent area of open space to enhance its usability and amenity involving new landscaping and the creation of a pedestrian walkway and sitting areas.
He outlined the following key issues of the application:
· The acceptability of the proposed use at this location;
· Retail Impact of the proposal;
· Open Space considerations;
· The acceptability of the design;
· Impact on the character and appearance of the area;
· Compatibility with adjacent uses;
· Access, Parking and Traffic Management; and
· Environmental Considerations (Drainage, Contamination, Noise, Air Quality, Natural Environment).
He explained that, as part of the application fell within an existing area of open space, the applicant had proposed to mitigate the loss of open space with the provision of a financial Developer Contribution of £281,482.75 to fund improvements to two open space areas in close proximity to the site, along with proposed improvements to the existing area of open space at Kells Avenue/Oranmore Drive.
He stated that officers had considered that the proposed open space improvements would bring substantial community benefits that decisively outweighed the loss of open space and that the proposal complied with Policy OS 1 of PPS 8.
He informed the Committee that NI Water had objected to the application on the grounds of insufficient wastewater drainage infrastructure capacity but that it was considered unreasonable for the Council to withhold planning permission for the proposed development given NI Water’s pre-existing commitments to connect to significant levels of un-implemented development across the city, and that NI Water had not provided evidence that the proposed development would have a direct and detrimental impact on waste-water infrastructure or environment, particularly in the context of impacts over and above what has already been committed across the city.
He added that no other consultees had offered an objection and that one third party objection had been received in relation to the proposed improvements at Carnanmore Park/Suffolk Playing fields.
He stated that, having regard to the development plan, relevant policy context and other material considerations the proposed development was considered to be acceptable and that officers recommended that planning permission would be granted subject to conditions and a Section 76 planning agreement to secure the financial Developer Contribution to mitigate the loss of open space.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. E. Poots MLA to the meeting, Mr. Poots explained that he had been working with the Suffolk Community who had requested assistance and that they had significant concerns with regard to the application. He stated that the local community had been in agreement to the provision of a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) but that the size of the proposed MUGA had changed and would no longer serve the needs of the local community needs.
He reported that a community consultation had taken place with regard to a larger sized MUGA, however, the application implied that a smaller MUGA would be provided.
He asked that an amendment would be made to the application to provide for the larger sized MUGA of 60x40 metres, which had been consulted upon and agreeable with the local community, rather than the 20x40 metre MUGA which was contained within the application.
The Chairperson thanked Mr. Poots for his representation and welcomed Mr. D Monaghan, MBA Planning, Ms. E. Greenlees, traffic engineer from AECOM and Mr. A. Mains, the applicant’s representative in respect of community engagement, to the meeting.
Mr. Monaghan, in response to the points raised by Mr. Poots, stated that the loss of open space would be minimal and that the developer had offered a considerable contribution to mitigate against the loss and provide a 20x40 metre MUGA and that if the community wanted a larger MUGA then the additional funding would need to be sourced.
Mr. Mains informed the Committee that he had engaged with the local community since 2020 and that many options had been discussed and that a 20x40 metre MUGA was considered as a viable option. He stated that, following engagement with Council officers, Lidl had agreed to increase its Developer Contribution, and that the officers would assist in fulfilling the request of a 60x40 metre MUGA.
The Committee granted planning permission, subject to conditions and a Section 76 planning agreement to secure the financial Developer Contribution to mitigate the loss of open space and granted delegated authority to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of conditions and the Section 76 planning agreement, and deal with any other issues that might arise, unless they were substantive, in which case the application would be reported back to the Planning Committee.
(Councillor Douglas retired from the meeting)