New Ballygally dwelling approved against planners’ recommendation

Mid and East Antrim councillors have granted outline planning permission for construction of a three-storey property at Coast Road, Ballygally, outside Larne, against the recommendation of planning officers.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:38 am

The planning application relates to a proposal for a new house which officers say is “contrary to planning policy and the Area Plan”.

The council’s principal planning officer Gary McGuinness said the site “consists of agricultural land that rises very steeply”.

He indicated that although the design of the dwelling is “deemed acceptable”, 14 objections have been received.

Ballygally. Pic courtesy Google Streetview

A report to councillors also highlighted potential “visual impact upon entering the village”.

Mr McGuinness noted the proposal is “contrary to the Area Plan in terms of character and mars the distinction of town and country”.

Eamonn Loughrey, an agent representing 10 objectors, told the meeting  the new building would be located inside an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would “blur the distinction between urban and rural area”.

He also suggested that other applicants could view this development as “a potential precedent”.

Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid said: “At no stage the design of the building was said to be inappropriate.”

Mr Loughrey said that some residents are concerned about overlooking of the development to their rear gardens.

“The front of this dwelling will look into the rear of dwellings on the Coast Road,” he explained.

Carrickfergus DUP Councillor John McDermott commented: “There are already eight properties behind residents making this complaint.”

Dermot Monaghan, the applicant’s agent, said that nine apartments had been approved on the site and the proposed new dwelling would not be seen from the public road.

“It would be well set back from the Coast Road to the rear of the existing apartment development,” he stressed.

“It has an attractive modern design with a flat roof. It would not harm the coastal environment. It will be a quality dwelling.”

Addressing the meeting, Larne Lough DUP Cllr Gregg McKeen, who is not a committee member but had speaking rights, said: “I do not believe the reasons for refusal are valid.

“This site is not on the shore side. It is not even directly on the Coast Road. This is behind an existing block of apartments. It would not really be seen as a sensitive or vulnerable area.”

He also said he believed it is “an acceptable size”.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson stated that the application “does not in any way blur the development limit because it has already been blurred”.

“It is not even on the edge of the Coast Road. There is a large block of apartments in front of it. It is shielded by the development in front of it. It is overlooking a carpark. I am at a loss to see why this has been turned down.”

Knockagh Alliance  Ad Noel Williams said: “The officer has said it is contrary to the Area Plan.”

“I wish to propose an amendment that this committee accepts  the officer’s recommendation to refuse.”

Mr McGuinness commented: “This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Area Plan is not saying there should be no development in Ballygally.”

Ald Williams’s proposal was defeated by six votes against.

Ald Reid’s proposal to not accept the officer’s refusal was passed by six votes in favour and five against. The application was subsequently approved.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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