Belfast Telegraph

Developer of office block seeks meeting with councillors to discuss objections

An artist’s impression of the proposed development
An artist’s impression of the proposed development

By John Mulgrew

A property developer facing objections over the proposed demolition of a 19th century building to make way for a nine-storey office block is asking for a pre-decision hearing to discuss concerns about the scheme.

Killultagh Estates, run by Frank Boyd, wants to knock down the existing Clarence Gallery at Linenhall Street in Belfast. A number of objections have been raised.

These led to the firm submitting a scaled-back version in plans.

Developers now want a pre-determination hearing ahead of any decision being made by Belfast City Council planners.

“The applicant is proposing to demolish Clarence Gallery, which is adjacent to a listed building and within the Linen Conservation Area,” a council report says.

“Planning service and statutory consultees are of the view that the proposed replacement scheme fails to meet the applicable policy tests.

“The applicant’s representative has requested a pre-determination hearing on the basis that the scale and complexity of the application should it its own rights merit a predetermination hearing.

“He believes that a discussion with the applicant’s various consultants would assist the planning service and committee in understanding the rationale as to why the building should be demolished.”

The report also says that “members are asked to consider the report and whether a committee pre-determination hearing would be appropriate”.

“In this particular case, there is no discord amongst consultees... in relation to the Planning Service position on this proposal,” it says.

“There are five objections to the application, including an objection from the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. However, committee will recall that it has only held one discretionary pre-determination hearing since the transfer of planning powers.

“That was in relation to the former Visteon factory which was particularly controversial. This would support the view of officers that it is not necessary to hold a pre-determination hearing as the committee has considered a number of major, complex and/or controversial applications at its regular meetings.

“This is due in part to standard committee processes which encourage a focused discussion of the issues surrounding an application.”

It says that “an additional committee meeting will be necessary should members be minded to agree to hold a pre-determination hearing”.

It’s due to discuss the matter at Tuesday’s monthly planning committee meeting.

Two Stormont departments have also raised issues with elements of the scheme.

A letter from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said that “potential unacceptable risks to the water environment have been identified”. DAERA also wants additional information to “advise the planning authority as to the environmental risks from this proposed development”.

Belfast Telegraph


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