The Principal Planning Officer outlined to the Committee an additional objection that had been received from Tesco and he reported that, following the receipt of the objection, an independent review of the retail impact assessment had been carried out on behalf of the Council that concluded that the proposal was acceptable from a retail impact perspective.
He stated that the report had considered the original objection from the Irish Football Association (IFA) and that the boulevard remained in Council ownership and that the IFA had been granted limited control of the boulevard before, during and after a major event only and that officers had considered this the main issue for concern for the IFA and were satisfied that all issues had been addressed.
He pointed out that the Department for Infrastructure had been consulted and had indicated no concern with regard to access, parking and traffic management.
He concluded by stating that it was recommended that the application be approved, subject to conditions as the proposal was compliant with planning policy and the development plan and that third party objections had been considered.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. P. Stinson and Ms. E. Kelly from Turley, and Mr. J. Pringle from A&L Goodbody, who attended on behalf of the IFA in objection to the application. Ms. Turley explained that the IFA was not against the principle of the proposed development but had concern with regards to how the stadium would be able to operate and co-exist with the proposed development without impacting the operations of the stadium and maintain a safe environment on event days.
She stated that it was the view of the IFA that the Council had failed to properly relay the obligations set out in the overarching agreement to Lidl, which applied to all events and pointed out that the PSNI would not necessarily be present on event days.
She concluded by stating that the IFA was requesting that the agreement for all parties would be updated to reflect the measures that occur at all events and that the agreement should be a condition of grant of planning permission.
The Chairperson invited Councillor Tracy Kelly, who was in attendance in support of the application to ,make a representation to the Committee.. She welcomed the support for the application and stated that the local community was in need of a discount supermarket and wished for the application to be approved. She stated that the objection to the proposal was disappointing and pointed out that any development on the site would be accompanied by increased traffic.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. S. Beattie KC, Mr. D. Monaghan of MBA Planning and Mr. S. Tomlinson from AECOM to the meeting on behalf of the applicant, and Mr. B. Dickson and Mr. E. Poots MLA in support of the application.
Mr. Beattie KC explained, in response to the objection to the application from Tesco, that there was almost 9000 people within the catchment area with ample accessibility through public transport and that there was strong local support for the application.
He addressed the concerns that had been raised by the IFA and stated that the applicant had no issue with regard to major events and that Lidl would have little influence in regard to issues that may occur with patrons of the Olympia Leisure Complex accessing the boulevard during fixtures. He concluded by stating that the proposal was a good inward investment.
Mr. Poots MLA stated that the proposal would be of great benefit to the local community and did not believe any of the objections received had been valid and encouraged the Committee to support the recommendation and approve the application.
The City Solicitor referred to the established procedures which were in place since 2016 in relation to major events and assured the Committee that if there were any issues or learnings with regard to how the Council manages and controls the land that it owns at the boulevard, it would be addressed by officers.
The Committee granted full planning permission, subject to conditions, and delegated authority for the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of conditions and to deal with any other matters which may arise.