The Planning Manager provided the Committee with an overview of the applications and pointed out that, since the Committee had deferred consideration of the application at its meeting in August, the applicant had amended the proposal to remove the proposed LED signage along the Castle Lane elevation.
He reported that the DfC Historic Environment Division had responded to the amended plans and maintained its advice that the proposal would be harmful to the setting of Listed Buildings, contrary to the SPPS and Policy BH1 of the Plan Strategy.
He explained that, whilst the Castle Lane signage had been removed from the proposal and no longer affected the west east vista along Castle Lane towards Arthur Square, internal conservation advice was that the proposals remained inappropriate and harmful to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.
He concluded by stating that the proposal was contrary to the Policies BH1, BH2 and the SPPS and that it was recommended that the applications be refused by the Committee.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr. J. Stevenson, the proposed operator, Mr. A. Carlton, Alterity investments, and Mr. M. Worthington, the agent, to the meeting, in support of the application.
Mr. Worthington explained that following discussions with the Planning team, the scheme had been reduced by 50 percent which further reduced the impact on the conservation area and Listed Buildings. He pointed out that a temporary permission was being sought for a period of five years which provided greater control to the Council in the future.
Mr. Carlton stated that the proposal would provide a range of benefits to Belfast, in that there would be rates payable, a free advertising contract would be available to the Council to promote its own events and that free digital content would be offered to increase the knowledge and understanding of the adjacent Listed Buildings. He explained that 50 percent of the profits gained would be donated to the LFT Charitable Trust which allocated funding to local charities.
Mr. Stevenson explained that Liverpool had one of the biggest digital screens in Europe and it was situated next to St George’s Hall, a grade 1 Listed Building and it was not perceived to have had a negative impact. He added that Open Media had planned to look at this proposal as one of its first builds that would be 90 percent recyclable from manufacture to its end. He reported that every media agency that Open Media engaged with wished to connect with Belfast but have not been able to do so due to a lack of digital signage provision.
Moved by Alderman McCullough,
Seconded by Alderman Lawlor,
“That the Committee approves temporary planning permission, Conservation Area Consent and Advertisement Consent, for a period of five years and delegates authority to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of the conditions.”
Alderman McCullough accepted an addition to his proposal from Councillor Carson, to include that the permission would be reviewed in year three of the temporary five-year period.
The proposal, as amended, therefore read:
“That the Committee approves temporary planning permission, Conservation Area Consent and Advertisement Consent, for a period of five years, to be reviewed in year three, and delegates authority to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of the conditions.”
The Planning Manager advised the Committee that, a three-year permission would be a more appropriate term from an officer perspective as a five-year consent would be tantamount to a semi-permanent permission and three years would normally be the review period for temporary permissions.
The proposal, as amended, was put the Committee and on a vote, 12 Members voted for the proposal and five against and it was declared carried.