Belfast Telegraph

Office scheme back before planners despite objections

By John Mulgrew

Proposals for a major new office block will go before planners again next week, despite dozens of objections from residents living in nearby apartments.

Those behind Erskine House want to transform a car park and building dating back to the 1980s into a 100,000 sq ft mixed-use development capable of holding 1,000 workers.

If it goes ahead, it will also feature retail space.

While the plans were approved at a meeting in November, the scheme is set to go before the council once again after a number of people living in The Residence apartments at Victoria Square said they were not contacted about the proposals.

Orby Investment, which is headed by David and Andrew Calvert, wants permission to knock down an existing building at Chichester Street and construct the new eight-storey office block in its place.

Planners have once again recommended that the scheme is given the go-ahead.

But numerous objections have been raised by residents of The Residence, which sits just metres away from the proposed building.

More than two dozen letters have been received, sent in by people ranging from individual residents to the building's management committee.

After complaints were lodged, the developers submitted a 'shadow analysis' that details highlighting "the relationship between the proposed building and the Victoria Square apartment complex to the east".

Among the concerns raised were the scale and height of the building, loss of light and loss of views, along with other issues including noise and potential reduction in value of people's properties.

However, despite the fears, planners believe the building should get the green light.

They said that the scale was "considered appropriate" and that the "shadow analysis provided by the applicant demonstrates that there will be some overshadowing impact, however, the loss of light is not deemed to be significant".

The Environmental Protection Unit has recommended a condition is attached to ensure sound from a rooftop "external plant" is not excessive.

Regarding the loss of views and potential reduction in property value, it was judged that there were not matters of "public interest" and should therefore be "balanced with the benefits of the proposed development".

Belfast Telegraph