Belfast Telegraph

Anger over DoE planning decision

By Pauline Reynolds

Plans to build 14 luxury homes at a south Belfast greenfield site have been given the go-ahead, despite vociferous objections from residents and Belfast City Council.

Local councillor Bob Stoker is so angry about the decision that he’s raising the matter with Environment Minister Edwin Poots.

The Planning Service has granted outline planning permission for Queen’s University to build the houses at a designated site in Lagan Valley Regional Park.

It’s part of a multi-million pound sports and housing project earmarked for its playing fields in the Dub Lane/Upper Malone area.

But Councillor Stoker claims the decision flies in the face of a pledge by planners to protect green spaces and to comply with residents’ wishes.

“I will be asking the minister to re-examine how his department came to this decision, especially when they seem to have ignored their own planning policy,” he said.

“One of the most important issues is community support for any such development and it is very evident that it is lacking in this case.”

Another local councillor, Bernie Kelly, also expressed her disappointment at the decision.

“A lot of the people living nearby bought their homes in what they believed was a greenbelt area,” she explained.

“They were very confident nothing was going to be built there and really wanted to enjoy this lovely area.

“This proposed new development raises several issues relating to a number of matters including privacy and increased traffic.

“And in south Belfast we can’t afford to lose any more green space. I really am very disappointed for the residents.”

In a statement the Department of the Environment (DoE) acknowledged that the council had disagreed with the application.

It continued: “The Department gave careful consideration to the views of Belfast City Council but decided to grant outline permission on October 19, 2009.

“The proposal was for improvements to the existing QUB sports pitches and facilities at Dub Lane/Upper Malone Road.

“The proposal also included the erection of 14 dwellings on a small portion of land located within Lagan Valley Regional Park.

“In granting permission the Department was aware of the substantial community and sporting benefits associated with the proposed scheme.

“It also accepted that the proposed housing was crucial to the financial viability of the proposal.

“The Department accepted the community and economic case submitted and decided to grant permission on this basis.”

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