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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Planners refuse new house in AONB as it would 'hinder iconic view of sea'

An outline planning application for a new dwelling outside Glenarm was refused by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday as it would “hinder an iconic view”.

The committee was told that there were 12 letters of objection to the proposed development of an infill dwelling and garage at Munie Road.

The location falls within Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A report to members stated that the proposal “respects the development pattern along the road frontage”. There are two existing two-storey buildings and an outbuilding in the vicinity.

The report stated that there were objections to the “creation of a ribbon of development” claiming that it is “not an infill site” and suggested a potentially “detrimental impact on the rural character of the area/Glenarm scenic route” and “potential impact on wildlife”.

Paul Duffy, the council’s Head of Planning, said that the planning department says that the development “will not harm the character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or have any negative impact on habitats or species”.

The department’s recommendation was to approve the application with a ridge height restriction.

Addressing the meeting, local resident Hannah McAuley said: “We believe this proposed infill site contravenes policy. We argue it is not an infill site, it is a relief site.

“There are no other instances where three dwellings sit side by side. Three houses in a row is a completely alien concept to this glen. It will look out of place in this AONB and will reinforce a built-up appearance.

“If this planning does go ahead it will most certainly result in a build up of development detrimental to the rural character of this area.

“This site frames an exceptional view. It is imperative that this relief site remains free from development.”

She also expressed concern over sight lines and road safety.

In response to a query by Larne Lough DUP councillor Alderman Paul Reid over a similar development in the glen, the objector said that she had not found “three houses in a row”.

Coast Road Sinn Fein Councillor James McKeown asked about the “natural scenic view of the glen” and how it would be affected.

“When travelling down the glen, this open field is one of the first open spaces you come across where you get a view of the  sea. You can see right down to the coast through this gap site. It certainly frames an exceptional view,” the objector said.

Ald Reid asked if Roads Service has any objections.

Mr Duffy explained that any access will have to be put in first and is a civil matter between landowners involved and would have to be resolved before any development takes place.

Ald Reid continued: “I am concerned that this is an area of natural beauty. What I am annoyed about and very concerned about, NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) have not commented here.

“I’m not sure I can take a decision here today if I cannot refer to them and this is an area of natural beauty.”

Mr Duffy advised that an assessment from NIEA is not needed to take a decision.

“It is within the remit of the planning office to make a visual assessment, ” he noted.

“We know it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with regard to this application.”

Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Robert Logan commented: “This seems to be a rather odd space to be called an infill.”

Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Councillor Keith Turner said: “I am happy that our planning department with the expertise they have, I do not see any reason why we do not approve this application. I move that we approve it.”

Cllr McKeown stated: “The Glenarm glen is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I would have concerns that this development would probably be within one of the most iconic views in the glen where you get the first view of the sea.

“I am of the opinion this would certainly hinder or block that view. I agree with my colleague Alderman Reid, there should have been more consultation.”

A vote on the recommendation to approve the proposal was defeated after three votes in favour and five against.

Mr Duffy noted: “Members are of the view that the proposed site does not represent a small gap site but a significant block in the development.”

Ald Reid remarked: “It may be a help when you have areas of natural beauty, we do consult with NIEA for their opinion. I think it is important to get people  who are the custodians of areas of natural beauty.”


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