Belfast Telegraph

Councillors fume: we weren't consulted on m-way services

By Linda Stewart

A row has erupted after councillors in Lisburn accused Environment Minister Alex Attwood of snubbing them over a controversial planning application.

Still smarting after the recent John Lewis announcement, the councillors believe the minister has failed to consult them over plans for two motorway service stations on the M1 — which he made public last Wednesday — ahead of a council meeting.

In the Press announcement, the minister said that Lisburn council would be consulted on Wednesday night “with an opinion to approve the (two service stations) on the M1”.

Angry councillors believe they have been bypassed, with the minister approving the application ahead of consulting them.

But the minister has insisted that he had not granted planning permission on Wednesday night at the time that the application went in front of the council.

DUP councillor Uel Mackin said: “Before we had time to consider our opinion or make comment, the minister had made his announcement.

“He made the announcement 19 hours before the committee met.

“We do have a consultation role, no question about that. We feel as a council we were denied that role because of the minister’s announcement.”

Councillor Mackin said there was no dissent between councillors on how they felt the minister had handled the application.

“We feel he has simply snubbed Lisburn Borough Council,” he said.

A DoE spokesperson said: “The Press release from the DoE on January 16 made the situation clear on the planning applications. It said ... a recommendation on the M1 sites was going to Lisburn City Council on January 16.

“This is the factual position, this is what planning rules require and there is no attempt to do otherwise. This cannot be portrayed as a council being ‘snubbed’. To suggest that the council has been denied its role is inaccurate and, if people step back, that is clear.

“Moreover, the minister believes councils should have a bigger role. That said, the department will now further consider the views of the council.”

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