Belfast Telegraph

Another setback for Aurora project

By Margaret Canning

A Skyscraper of 37 storeys in Belfast has been definitively refused planning permission, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The management board of the Department of Environment said it was advising planners to refuse the application for the Aurora Building in Great Victoria Street partly because its design was inappropriate in the context of the buildings around it.

Other reasons were that the 291 apartments in the building would not be a sustainable and quality residential development.

McAlister Holdings was first refused planning permission for the building in January 2009 because planners said it would not fit in with Great Victoria Street.

The council referred the decision to the management board, which was to consider the regeneration aspects of the proposal.

While the board has the power to reverse the decision of the planners, it has decided to uphold it.

Yesterday David Kerr of consultants Strategic Planning, which advised McAlister Holdings, said: “We are very disappointed by this decision.”

Mr Kerr said McAlister Holdings was now considering whether to submit an amended application for a building on the same site, or appeal the decision on the original application to the independent Planning Appeals Commission.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph in January, Mr Poots said he was in favour of tall buildings in Belfast, provided they were in the right location.

He said the Department was working on a policy paper on tall buildings for developers and planners alike.

Mr Poots said he had met McAlister Holdings, and that an amended application for a building of 20 to 25 storeys could be sent in to the planners.

But Mr Kerr yesterday refused to comment on any alternative development of the site.

Speaking after the first decision, McAlister Holdings chief executive Mervyn McAlister said it sent out the message that Belfast was “closed for business” — and a giant sign to that effect occupied the site for some time.

Belfast Telegraph