Empty Larne shop units to become apartments

Seven vacant retail units in Larne town centre are to be converted into apartments after planning permission was approved at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s planning committee.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 6:16 pm

The ground-floor units at the Laharna Building on Main Street are set to become nine one-bedroom and one two-bedroom flats after the proposal was given the go-ahead.

There are currently 52 apartments in the seven-storey block.

There were 19 objections to the development which is expected to take 12 months to complete at a cost of £600,000.

Laharna Building. Image by Google

These included concerns over car parking. There are 52 private parking spaces to the rear of the building.

Concern was also raised over the potential reduction in property value and disruption during construction was also highlighted.

Head of Planning Paul Duffy told the meeting the change of use would not have a “significant impact on the character of the area” and the proposal would bring the units “back into use”.

Mr Duffy pointed out that reduction in car-parking is “acceptable in planning terms” and he noted that “existing communal space is regarded as sufficient”.

Planning consultant Diana Thompson said: “The proposal seeks to convert seven long-term vacant retail units on the ground floor into apartments.”

She went on to address concerns raised by NI Water over drainage noting that there are already seven existing connections provided to the main sewer from the retail units adding that there would not be any “significant change on discharge”.

She added that the planning proposal represents “sustainable development” that would “enhance the appearance of the town centre”.

Committee member Alderman Paul Reid, a Larne Lough representative, remarked: “NI Water had no issue with those seven units but now have issue when it has units for people to live in. I do not understand what the issue is.”

Agent Robert Logan told the meeting: “We were somewhat taken aback by NI Water’s response. There are seven existing connections from the shops.

“NI Water has already approved a former application for six apartments and then, on this occasion, they suggested we needed to wait until new sewage treatment arrangements were in place in Larne.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Three Mid and East Antrim towns in ‘urgent’ need of sewage infrastructure upgrade

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