Representatives from Ulster Architectural Heritage (UAH), Save CQ and St. Anne’s Cathedral shared the ten-minute window available to present objections to the Belfast City Council Planning Committee in Belfast City hall on Monday 16th December 2019.
We were impressed with the knowledge of the application shown by some councillors as illustrated by their questions following the presentations.
Ulster Architectural Heritage’s core interest is the built heritage of Ulster, both listed and otherwise. However, in advocating for this valuable and irreplaceable asset it is necessary for the Society to follow the development of planning since the transfer to the eleven Councils in April 2015, and the policy, process, scrutiny and accountability that goes with it. We are increasingly concerned that, with relation to built heritage at least, that transfer was deeply flawed, due to policy gaps, diffuse responsibility leading to collective inaction by government departments and councils, and an apparent lack of monitoring and regulation by the responsible Department; DfI.
The Royal Exchange/CQ/Tribeca application is a complex overbearing monster both physically, in planning terms, and in the way it seeks to masquerade as a ‘heritage-led’ development.
The attached statement issued by BCC as a response to the UAH press release raises more questions than answers, and consequently, UAH will make several ‘Freedom of Information’ requests to the council. UAH will report on the council’s response in due course.
A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: “The time slots allocated for the pre-determination hearing are in excess of those set out in planning committee operating protocol.
The Local Planning Authority is entirely separate and independent from the council’s City Centre Regeneration team, which seeks to profile investment opportunities in the city.
The applicants and their professional agents will have been made aware of the Waste Water Treatment and Mains Water infrastructure as part of the consultation responses as part of the planning application process.
This evening’s predetermination meeting is the first step in the process of Planning Committee considering the revised application. It is not mandatory and is being held on the recommendation of officers. There will be a Planning Committee meeting to consider the application in due course.”
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