Belfast Telegraph

Decision expected in Belfast residents challenge to £55m office development

What the new Lanyon development in Belfast could look like
What the new Lanyon development in Belfast could look like

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast residents' group challenging a new £55m office development being built beside their homes will get a decision before the end of the month, a High Court judge pledged on Tuesday.

Reserving judgment on the case brought by the Market community, Mr Justice McCloskey said he needed some more time to examine the issues raised.

He told those gathered in court: "These are quite complex cases and the detailed minutiae are very important."

Campaigners opposed to a construction of up to 14-storeys claim it would be invasive and overshadow homes in the inner city area.

They are challenging Belfast City Council acceptance of a planning application for the development at Stewart Street and East Bridge Street, near Central Station.

The 26,000 square metre Grade A office block is expected to create 350 construction jobs and generate permanent employment for 2,500 people.

But more than 200 households in the adjoining neighbourhood claim it should not have been given the go-ahead.

They insist it will seriously impact on their right to privacy and quality of life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

One resident, Elizabeth Conlon, issued judicial review proceedings on behalf of a wider group within the Market community.

An office tower on such a scale is in stark contrast to the traditional two-storey social housing in the area and inconsistent with its sense of community spirit, according to their case.

During two days of arguments lawyers for the Market residents contended those who gave the green light to the construction were misinformed and failed to properly assess the impact on the area.

Further points centred on the impact and legal status following a separate case connected to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP)

Those proceedings resulted in BMAP being left in draft form.

Lawyers for the Council have rejected claims that a "paucity" of information was put before the committee.

According to their case the issue about overlooking homes was considered and not found to represent an unjustifiable interference.

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