Belfast Telegraph

Council backs plea over development

by Natalie Irvine

A planning application to develop a 23 apartment complex on the lower Lisburn Road has been condemned by a majority of Belfast City councillors — concerned that the Planning Service is not doing enough to halt the growth in houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) in the area.

At a Belfast City Council meeting last month, the planning application by Colum McAuley to develop the HMO on Ashley Avenue, was rebuffed — despite Planning Service having approved his plans.

SDLP south Belfast councillor Bernie Kelly had been in contact with concerned local residents before the vote, which took place on Monday, August 30.

She said: “The growth of houses of multiple occupation in the lower Lisburn Road area is worrying, and I am concerned that the Planning Service is not doing enough to halt this trend.

“This is a lovely Victorian terrace which contributes to the townscape character of the area. Residents are understandably upset at moves to replace it with apartments that put pressure on infrastructure such as waste, traffic and parking.”

She added that residents had been “greatly upset” at the demolition of Seamus Heaney’s house several years ago.

There were a total of 37 objection letters formally lodged against Mr McAuley’s planned development from neighbours.

Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, an Ashley Avenue resident, said: “This proposed site directly faces another approved development site — the Seamus Heaney site where apartments and shops are planned.

“Demolishing the house where Seamus Heaney had lived was already a contentious decision that residents where not happy with.

“These two massive sites directly facing each other is development that has gone one step too far — this street has borne its share of development already.

“It seems the Planning Service have a presumption in favour of development in this area — this has the potential of creating another Holylands on the Lisburn Road.

“A vibrant and eclectic community live on this street, made up of older people, young families and a proportion of students. I know some elderly people in the area feel this sort of development is an attack on their community and their red-brick heritage and many have told me they want to leave the area if this continues. This is a major concern.”

Cllr Kelly has called for an all-party delegation on the matter.

She continued: “The Planning Service needs to show greater sensitivity to the views of residents and I proposed that council reject the application and called for an all-party delegation to meet with the Planning Service to discuss this application.”

No-one from the Planning Service was available to comment at the time of going to press.

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