Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No Apartments in Rathmore Road Retail Development

The plans for the redevelopment of the retail-shopping units at Rathmore Rd in Bangor West are to be amended to exclude the controversial apartments which were part of the original proposal. The inclusion of apartments would have meant a development some 3½ storey high which would have overlooked neighbouring properties and would have been out of character with the immediate surroundings.

There were a number of objections to the proposal. As a result of this an office meeting involving the developers architect local planners and Councillors was arranged. It was at that meeting that the possibility of proceeding without the apartments was first mooted.

Following that meeting as the Chair of North Down Planning Committee, on my request, I have now received a letter from the developer’s representatives confirming that it is now their intention to proceed with the redevelopment of the retail unit but without the apartments. The letter goes onto request the support of North Down for a new planning proposal to this effect. That will allow for the urgently needed improvements to the existing retail units.

This is a further example of where common sense has prevailed as a result of local pressure. There can be no doubt that the redevelopment of the retail unit is long overdue. The whole area would be greatly enhanced by sensible redevelopment and no one would argue otherwise.

Unfortunately the original proposals provided for apartments on top of the retail units. That would have meant a development which would have overpowered the surrounding area, would have been quite out of character with those surroundings and indeed would have done nothing for the new retail units. There was also the problem of parking facilities and site lines. I very much welcome this new approach now confirmed by the Developer. It means that the very baldly needed retail development can take place without disruption to the local community.

This latest good news on the planning front came on top of last weeks decision to reject the Crawfordsburn Country Club proposal for the development of apartments in Crawfordsburn. To me this shows that with strong local support there is growing hope for some degree of common sense to be applied in controversial planning developments.

This decision came as a result of an office meeting when local residents, were able to spend time to discuss the application with the architect. This only goes to reinforce my point that office meetings when requested must be granted and not something ‘considered to be allowed or not’ by the Planning Service.