Woods housing plan is rejected

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A planning application for a proposed housing development in Larne has been refused by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The application for the development at The Woods, Old Glenarm Road was brought before a meeting of the local government authority’s Planning Committee earlier this month.

The proposed site is located at an elevated plot of land above the Coast Road.

Speaking during the meeting, principal planner Gary McGuinness pointed out the application was ‘outline’, meaning it centred on “the principle of development”.

He said statutory consultees had raised no objection but that five letters of objection had been received from nearby residents relating to a number of issues, including a potential increase in traffic and loss of privacy.

Mr McGuinness added that the proposal was for six dwellings at a site which was outside the development limit of Larne and that the recommendation of the department was to refuse as it was contrary to planning policy PPS1.

Addressing the meeting in support of the application, Colm O’Callaghan confirmed that the site was outside the development limits in an area where such development is not normally allowed.

However, he pointed out that the applicant had bought it 30 years previously when it had been zoned for housing and had sought outline permission, but that since then the land had been rezoned.

“We are now in a vacuum,” he said.

The applicant felt there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ because of local housing need, he added.

“What we need is a single decision on a small planning application to relieve some housing pressure in this area,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

He added that the applicant was also proposing to transfer some land to council “for formal open space” and would “be happy to engage with council in this regard”.

Earlier, Mr McGuinness had referred to this but told the meeting there was “no concrete proposal on the table”.

Commenting on the outline application, Cllr Andy Wilson responded: “This land is zoned for a reason - to protect the amenity.”

Cllr Paul Reid proposed to accept the planners’ recommendation and refuse the application.

He was seconded by Cllr Stephen Nicholl, who expressed concern that to allow “stretching of the development limits” could set a precedent.

They were supported by Cllr Wilson and when put to a vote, the proposal to refuse was agreed by nine votes to two against.