Glenarm plan call-in request

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MP Sammy Wilson is calling on locals to support the Glenarm Regeneration plan after an objector requested that it be “called in” by the DOE.

The scheme was passed by the council’s planning committee on April 7, after being recommended for approval by planners.

However, 55 letters of objection were received, and one of the objectors has since written to the DOE requesting that the application be called in.

The Department has not yet decided whether to grant this request. Under the Planning Order’s call-in mechanism, the planning department has the power to call-in a planning application and determine it rather than the council.

At the planning committee meeting two weeks ago, representative for the objectors Maureen McAuley told councillors that the main objection was to the waterfront housing element of the scheme.

However, Mr Wilson said he supported the scheme and urged locals to “compromise.”

“The question you have to ask is, how long does Glenarm have to wait to get a proper development of that large area along the sea front which hopefully will encourage people to stop and enjoy the many facilities of the wee town?” he asked.

“Looking at the bigger picture, will this be good for Glenarm? Yes, I think it will. It will benefit tourism, create jobs and I hope it will improve the fairly derelict sea front. People could spend another five years fighting about the detail but I’m calling for them to get behind these plans.”

Mr Wilson said it was now time for action.

“I accept that people don’t like some aspects of it, but we could endlessly debate the optimum plan and still be talking about it in ten years’ time. There is frustration that all the discussion and public money has gone into it and we can’t do anything,” he conclluded.

A Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spokesperson said: “The Department have the power to call in the application and make the decision on the application. “If they decline to call it in, we take it back to the Planning Committee and hold a pre-determination hearing and give the person who made the representation an opportunity of appearing before the Planning Committee.”

A DOE spokesperson commented: “The Department is aware of the proposal and is currently considering a request to call the application in. The planning application is currently before Mid and East Antrim Council for determination. Section 29 of the Planning Act (NI) 2011 enables the call in of planning applications made to councils for determination by the Department, in exceptional circumstances.”