A planning application for the expansion of an existing commercial depot on Ballyclere Road in Newtownbay was rejected by councilors despite a recommendation for approval.
Senior planning officer Kieran O’Connell told the committee that 21 objection letters had been received from six neighboring properties. The planners also received three letters of support.
There was no objection from the statutory advisors including the environmental health department of the council.
The official said this department has indicated it is “not likely to have a detrimental effect on neighborhood facilities”. The official said it is important to note an already existing building on the site.
Planning consultant Gemma Jobling said the proposal “represents a significant economic opportunity” through the £750k investment needed to award Virgin Media a £100m contract for the high-speed fiber network through construction and 20 jobs. EJC CONTRACTS LTD CONSTRUCTION APPLICANT WITH CONSTRUCTION OF
The advisory further stated that Virgin Media contracts require the delivery of all stock prior to the contract which requires secure storage facilities for cables, poles and other material required to deliver a “five year program from day one”. .
“It is sensitive to high value and weather and should be stored internally in a secure and monitored building. Their existing building is insufficient to meet this additional requirement. This is not a noisy use. It’s just for storage.”
Antrim DUP alderman John Smith asked if the company had looked elsewhere.
The consultant stressed that it should be located on a safe site and described the proposed location as “an extension of the existing site” and “part of a small agricultural area”.
“It also has a prime location close to the road network.”
ThreeMilewater DUP councilor Sam Flanagan inquired about the frequency of vehicular movement at the site. He was advised that the contractor would collect the equipment every morning.
One objector told the meeting that he believed the frequency “will increase significantly” if the application is approved. He said the proposed site is currently used for grazing cows and “does not constitute redevelopment”.
He suggested that there are three “more suitable” locations in the vicinity and described the proposed site development as “a curse on the countryside”.
His wife suggested that it “has no economic meaning”. Responding to a question from Clerk Flanagan, she claimed that it would affect them “widely in terms of noise and the number of lorries with their house” within meters of the existing yard.
The Planning Advisor acknowledged that a number of concerns have been raised, which he said would be dealt with through design and a threshold would be set.
“It is not beyond the threshold of unacceptable impact. A lighting scheme was provided. It is nestled in the lower part of the site.” She also said it would not result in “significant movements throughout the day”.
In response to a question from Macedon Alliance clerk Billy Webb, the planning officer explained that the policy allows for the expansion of existing businesses in rural areas.
Eld Smith proposed that the committee reject the application. “This is unacceptable. There is no need for this facility in the area. Storage facilities can be found elsewhere.”
Ald Smith’s proposal was rejected after nine votes in favor and two against.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter