A luxury holiday experience with a difference on the outskirts of Armagh has been given the go-ahead despite a number of objections.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee has approved the conversion of a farm building, on the outskirts of the city, into a shop and six self catering units.
Lodged by agent Weir and Weir Architects Ltd on behalf of applicants, Mr M.J and J.R Scott, the application, which concerns land on the Drummanmore Road, appeared before the committee Wednesday, June 7 as it had received four letters of objection.
Permission is sought to convert an existing farm building to a shop/hire outlet with associated office and erect six self catering studio units with rigid decking and associated site works.
The committee was told the application had received no statutory objections. However, third party representations expressed concerns around a number of issues including the belief the application is not in keeping with the rural area and the proposed design is out of keeping with the development on the road.
Concern has also been expressed about the location of the entrance to the proposed shop. It is, it is claimed, located on an extremely dangerous corner/close to the brow of a hill where it is difficult for two cars to pass.
It is also claimed the location is at a point in the road which would be dangerous for pedestrians to cross as there is no footpath along the road.
Members of the committee were presented with a report from Council’s planning department which explains the site is located outside of any settlement development limits.
It also notes a car park will be created for the shop/hire outlet with the unit located west of Drummanmore Road and the self catering units would be located east of the Drummanmore Road. The gross floor area of the proposed retail unit would be 32.8m2.
Having assessed the application against all relevant planning policy, officers are of the view the proposal complies with the SPPS and all other relevant planning policies and recommended the application was approved.
Addressing the committee on behalf of the application, William Irwin MLA said the existing site would be greatly enhanced by this proposal and the self catering units will be highly sought after.
“This application will enable a very positive economic investment in the area and it will add positively to the existing tourism and attraction of the lake as well as create employment and have a positive knock-on effect on the surrounding area,” he said.
“The committee will be pleased to know that the proposal, in the opinion of the planners and those who have designed it, will not be detrimental to the character of the area.
“I know the applicant will greatly value your support in approving this application today. It will be a considerable positive development for the area.”
With an objector lined up to speak against the application, the committee’s Chair asked for him to appear. However, his wife, who claimed she had also signed the letter of objection explained he could not appear before the committee.
She told the chamber he had only received the letter notifying him of the application’s appearance at the committee on Saturday, June 3 and as such, was unable to take the time off work to attend.
Given this, the committee took a short break to consider its options. When it resumed the committee’s chair, Alderman Glenn Barr explained why she could not address the committee.
“An email came in from your husband to say he was going to be here via Zoom,” he said.
“He could have sent correspondence to say he was not going to be here and unfortunately, the protocol which neither I, nor the committee, have the power to step outside of, dictates that we cannot allow you speaking rights.
“So I am going to have to move on.”
The chair then invited the agent and architect to speak on behalf of the application.
Addressing the chamber the agent said they would like it noted that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council recognises the important value this type of accommodation brings to its already thriving tourist industry.
Councillor Paul Duffy asked if the site lines have been considered in the proposal and was told by a planning officer that the full details were consulted with DfI Roads who raised no objections.
Councillor Ian Wilson welcomed the application saying that investment of this kind is welcome within a rural community.
“To see a bit of diversification, that will encourage tourism into our borough is a good thing,” he said.
“It is a detailed report, a stone hasn’t been left unturned in this report and it will enhance our local rural community and I think we should be encouraging the likes of this application.”
A proposal to approve the application was then put forward by Alderman Gordon Kennedy and seconded by Councillor Ian Wilson before the chamber voiced its approval for the proposal.