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Golf club planning row: Poot accused over review refusal

By Linda Stewart

Enviroment Minister Edwin Poots has been accused of being out of touch after ruling out an independent review into the Knock Golf Course planning application.

Responding to a call for a review from Stormont’s environment committee, he said it would be inappropriate as the application is still being processed.

The controversial application to build more than 200 houses on the Dundonald site won planning approval despite breaching five planning guidelines as the plans featured social housing and the clubhouse was to be converted into a community centre.

The site is part of the Dundonald ‘green wedge’. The plans also proposed returning a stretch of long-term lease land to the neighbouring Ulster Hospital, but the Hospital Trust has since said it is no longer interested.

Environment Committee member John Dallat said that the minister was out of touch with public opinion.

“He certainly has totally miscalculated the strength of feeling, not just amongst the Dundonald green belt group, but a whole wider spectrum of society who are extremely concerned that we have a planning service that, in the words of the Audit Office recently, is ‘not fit for purpose’,” he said.

Earlier this week, the minister said that while the application had been recommended for approval, it remained at a critical stage of the approval process and it would not be appropriate to seek an independent review at this stage.

He said discussions were ongoing between the applicants, other interested parties including the Hospital Trust, and the Belfast Divisional Planning Office.

“This proposal is linked to a current application for a replacement facility near Newtownards. This application is still under consideration,” he said.

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