The Planning Manager outlined the application to the Committee and highlighted the following key areas:
· Principle of development;
· Affordable housing and housing mix;
· Adaptable and accessible accommodation;
· Design, layout and impact on the character and appearance of the area;
· Scale, Height, Massing, Design and Layout;
· Access, Traffic and Parking;
· Environmental Health;
· Drainage and Flood Risk / Infrastructure Capacity;
· Impact on the natural environment;
· Ecological Impacts; and
· Climate change.
He informed the Committee that late items had been received, a letter from Connswater Homes that had reiterated the housing need in the area and provided rationale for not providing housing mix as per Policy HOU6, which included difficulties in letting three and four bedroom apartments and that there was a need for smaller families and singles.
He reported a letter had also been submitted by the applicant which provided a rebuttal to the Committee report and reiterated that the proposal was for 100% social housing and stated that the applicant was content for this to be a condition of the proposal.
He concluded by stating that it was recommended that the application would be refused, as the need for social housing had been acknowledged but did not outweigh design and layout issues and the impact on amenity and existing residents.
The Chairperson welcomed Ms. K. McShane, Mr. M. Collins and Mr. B. Smith from CollinsRolston, on behalf of the applicant.
Ms. McShane stated that the applicant had recognised the crisis in housing stock in the area and that, rather than come forward with a private development, intended to put forward a social housing scheme to address the urgent housing requirement.
She explained that the applicant had funds in place and was ready to build the development and allow occupation. She stated that only one letter of concern had been received, which had been addressed and that letters of support had been submitted by Mr. G. Robinson MP and Connswater Homes.
She reported that a need of 713 new homes had been identified in the area which had been substantiated with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
Ms. McShane stated that the case officer’s report had outlined minor areas of design disagreement and that the architectural team had submitted a response, having regard to the Local Development Plan, rather than full adherence. She provided the Committee with rebuttals to the following reasons for refusal:
· Surrounding context and character;
· Open space;
· Impact on the amenity of neighbouring properties;
· Emerging environmental policies in the Local Development Plan;
· HOU5: Adequate management arrangements and communal facilities;
· HOU 5 and 6: Appropriate mix of tenures and a range of different apartment sizes; and
· HOU 7: Wheelchair accessible units.
She concluded by reiterating the critical housing need in the area and asked the Committee to reject the officers recommendation to refuse the application and grant planning permission.
The Committee agreed that consideration of the application would be deferred in order that further engagement could take place between officers and the applicant, to attempt to resolve the issues, and for the Committee to undertake a site visit.
(Alderman Lawlor returned to the meeting.)