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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Planners say NO to a fixer upper barn conversion in Co Antrim

Rear elevation of barn converted to dwelling.

Permission for a proposed barn conversion was refused at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Monday evening.

A planning officer told the committee the application for conversion to a dwelling related to a site “close to the A8 dual carriageway” at Rushfield Road, Ballyclare.

Members also heard part of the building has “historically been used as a dwelling” but without permission previously and it is “not a viable replacement opportunity”.

The officer indicated a recommendation to refuse planning permission, Agent Mervyn McNeill noted the premises have not been used as an agricultural building for more than 30 years and “does not possess any architectural merit” but it is “similar to what exists on site”.

Inside the barn.

Airport DUP Councillor Matthew Magill commented: “You said the dwelling has not been used for agricultural purposes for more than 30 years. I would like to ask what the shed has been used for?”

He was told it had been an old stable block but is being used as a bedsit and is fitted with a kitchen, bathroom and mahogany staircase.

Antrim DUP Alderman John Smyth asked when someone last lived there.  He was told it was “within the past few weeks”.

Party colleague Glengormley Cllr Alison Bennington asked if rates were being paid on the building. She was informed they were not.

Planning proposals for the barn conversion.
Planning proposals for the barn conversion.

Planning proposals for the barn conversion.

Barry Diamond, the council’s principal planning officer, said there is “no move to replace this dwelling” for which there is no planning permission and no rates have been paid.

“This building was designed and built for purposes of agriculture and at some time in the past has evolved into partially being used as a dwelling.”

The officer’s recommendation that planning permission be refused was adopted following a vote backed by eight councillors with Antrim SDLP Cllr Roisin Lynch voting against and abstentions from Cllr Magill and party colleague Ballyclare Cllr Jeannie Archibald-Brown.


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