Agenda item


            (Councillor Murphy, having declared an interest in this item, left the meeting at this point in proceedings)


The Principal Planning officer presented the details of the application to the Committee, for a revised design and layout for a community hub building, which had previously been approved as part of a larger regeneration scheme under reference LA04/2018/1832/F in February 2019.


The key issues which had been considered in the assessment of the proposal included:


·        the principle of redevelopment;

·        acceptability of community uses;

·        loss of open space provision;

·        impact on neighbouring amenity;

·        impact on built heritage;

·        traffic and parking;

·        impact on trees and natural heritage;

·        contaminated land;

·        drainage and flooding; and

·        pre-application community consultation


            He advised the Committee that the site was located on unzoned land within the development limits of Belfast. The presumption was, therefore, in favour of development, subject to the planning considerations as discussed within the report.  He outlined that the principle of the demolition of the former school building and a mixed-use development, which included housing, retail and community use on the site was acceptable and was established under planning permission LA04/2018/1832/F.


The scale, height and design of the proposed revised community hub building was acceptable when compared to the previously approved building.


The ground floor would comprise training rooms, a dual use area for a café/event space, community offices, gym, boxing ring/training area, with ancillary administration offices, foyer, and toilets. There was also a secure and enclosed external courtyard area for training purposes. The first floor comprised two flexible use halls, changing rooms and gym, with a multi-use sports/community hall at the rear of the building.


The mix of uses was considered acceptable at the location, given the previous approval.


The Members were advised that consultees, including Environmental Health, had no objections.


The current application substantially removed a buffer landscape area which was an area of communal open space between the community hub building and the approved housing element due to a revised layout for the hub building and associated areas. The open space was relocated within the layout. He explained that the revision had been necessary for several reasons as discussed in the report, but principally they were required to allow the community groups currently using the site to continue to operate at the site during redevelopment works.


The Principal Planning officer explained that the proposal would provide a more extensive community benefit in terms of physical and economic regeneration to the area than what would likely have been derived from the grassed open space as part of the approved layout. He advised that the benefit of the previously approved open space was limited to the prospective residents of the new housing. In addition, the private amenity space provision for the new dwellings was compliant with policy and broadly exceeded provision within the locality. The proposed open space was broadly the same size and would still be provided for community use, albeit in a different layout.  On balance it was therefore considered that the revised proposal was acceptable in terms of the loss of open space.


A total of 17 letters of support and no objections were received in respect of the application.


            The Committee granted approval to the application, subject to conditions.  Delegated authority was given to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of the conditions subject to no substantive issues being raised.


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