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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Planning permission granted to keep visitor attraction at Antrim Castle Gardens

Platinum Jubilee Clockwork Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens.

A retrospective planning application has been approved for a “clockwork garden” 12 months after it opened to visitors at Antrim Castle Gardens.

The application by the local government authority was granted at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Monday evening.

The clockwork garden was created by celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin and unveiled at Garden Show Ireland last April to mark the return of the event following the Covid pandemic.

It was also commissioned to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, the tenth anniversary of the refurbishment of Antrim Castle Gardens and the 100th anniversary of Antrim Castle fire.

A planners’ report to the committee says:

“The proposal seeks to retain the former Chelsea Flower Show Folly Garden within the grounds of Antrim Castle Gardens on a temporary basis for five years.”

Speaking at the meeting, objector Gary Shaw commented that the structure is located in a “historic landscape” and described it as “designed for another purpose at another location”- the Chelsea Flower Show.

He went on to say he believes it is “inappropriate” as a “contemporary creation” on a site with “many layers of garden heritage”.

Antrim DUP Alderman John Smyth asked why planning permission has “taken so long”Barry Diamond, the council’s principal planning officer, said the proposal is to grant permission on a temporary basis for five years.

Ald Smyth pointed out that it is already built.  Mr Diamond added: “This is a retrospective planning application. We can only assess it when we receive a planning application.”

Ald Smyth proposed the committee approved the application, seconded by Glengormley DUP Councillor Alison Bennington.

During a vote by committee members, there were abstentions from Antrim SDLP Cllr Roisin Lynch and Dunsilly Sinn Fein Cllr Henry Cushinan.

Mr Gavin is also to create a specially-designed mechanical commemorative 'Coronation Pleasure Garden' at Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey to mark the coronation of King Charles III on May 6.


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