Anger as 'cheap' car park near Belfast City Airport is shut down
Motorists have voiced their anger that a car park in the grounds of Ikea's Belfast store offering cheap airport parking has been shut down by officials.
The Boal family has been running the enterprise, which includes a mini-bus transfer to Belfast City Airport, for four years.
But the Planning Service has argued that there is no need for the car park as there is sufficient capacity at the airport.
The car park has now been refused planning permission and Belfast City Council's planning committee is set to discuss enforcement action.
This could include the removal of all equipment if operations do not cease by August 28.
Planning was refused earlier this year and an appeal by Patrick Boal was dismissed on June 29. An application for associated advertisements was refused on July 20.
Minutes published on the Belfast City Council website reveal that Mr Boal "failed to demonstrate a quantitative need for the car park". "The commissioner further clarified that although there may be a demand for lower-cost parking, that no need had been identified in line with Policy AMP 10 of Planning Policy Statement 3: Access, Movement and Parking which requires that the development meets a need identified in a transport plan or accepted following robust analysis provided by the applicant," the notes continued.
Belfast Planning Service has written to both the operator, Mr Boal, and landowner Ikea to get the operation shut down. Customers using Boal's car park yesterday reacted with outrage that it could be shut in a month's time.
Maggie Lavery from Benburb, who was returning from three days celebrating a 50th birthday in Amsterdam with a friend, said the situation was "ridiculous".
"It is so expensive at the airport - who could afford that?" she asked. "I think it is better that both are open so there is some competition like the way there is at the International Airport. The idea of closing this one seems ridiculous." The Turpitt family from north Down, who were travelling to see family in England, were using Boal's for the first time but said they would be concerned if it was closed.
"This is the first time we have used this one but it has all gone pretty smoothly," Sam added.
"We just felt the car parks at the airport itself were very expensive."
The Boal family rent the top deck of the car park in Ikea for their operation.
A spokesperson for Ikea Belfast said it had now ended the agreement with the family business.
"To ensure we operate within local planning and council regulations, we can confirm that Ikea Belfast has now ended the agreement with Boal Airport Car Parking," she added.
"The site will be vacated by August 28, 2015 and we are working with Belfast City Council to resolve the matter."
A spokesman for Belfast City Airport said: "Illegal car parks are a problem not isolated to Belfast City Airport.
"While we welcome competition, it must adhere to the same planning restrictions as imposed upon the airport. The airport has invested millions of pounds in its infrastructure to operate a facility that protects our customers within a safe and legal environment.
"The airport is a rate-paying business that operates wholly within the law, why should others be able to flout the law for commercial gain?"
What it costs:
Parking charges at Belfast City Airport range from £5 per hour in the short stay car park to £26 per 24 hours in the long stay one. The price at Boals is £8 a day.