Belfast Telegraph

Advisers in flour mill revamp bid angered by plan refusal

By Margaret Canning

Advisers to a bid to redevelop a west Belfast flour mill have hit out at the Department of the Environment after learning from a newspaper that it had been refused planning permission.

FW Consulting/Macrae Hanlon and Spence were agents to Klinsmann Properties in its plan to build 395 apartments, a nursing home, shops and offices at the site of Andrews Mill in Percy Street.

But the 2010 application provoked 67 objections, with signatories to a petition saying the development would "over saturate" the site, increase traffic and have an "overpowering effect" on the community.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood yesterday said he was refusing the application because its "excessive scale" would harm the area.

Campbell Malseed, project manager at FW Consulting/Macrae Hanlon and Spence - now called Design and Management - said he had spent four-and-a-half years speaking to planners about his client's ambitions, which became an application of major importance under Article 31 of the Planning Order.

"This is very disappointing after what we have gone through.

"I expected the decision to come from the planning authorities, not from the Irish News."

He said Klinsmann's plans would have created a large number of jobs for the area.

No-one from Klinsmann Properties, a sister company of mill owners Andrews Holdings, was available for comment.

But a spokeswoman for the DOE said normal processes had been followed, with Mr Attwood informing the Speaker's Office and MLAs after deciding on March 16 that he agreed with planners that planning permission should be refused.

She said the applicant was told of the decision yesterday - the same day as an Irish News report revealing the decision.

The spokeswoman added: "The department would point out that, for example when the decision was taken in respect of Runkerry [golf resort] the applicant did not know the decision until the minister commenced a Press conference in Bushmills on the day of the decision.

"As this demonstrates there are cases, including Article 31 decisions, where there is a significant public, community and media interest.

"The department believes it is appropriate for media to report on these matters."