AN application for retrospective planning permission at a site at 188 Coleraine Road, Portstewart is to be sent directly to the Environment Minister, Alex Attwood.
At Tuesday night’s meeting of Coleraine Borough Council the application, by Frances Menary, for a two storey farm dwelling appeared on the planning schedule as an approval. However members raised concerns about the application and its handling by the Department.
The application had previously been refused, however a spokesperson for the Planning Service at the meeting informed members that new plans had been submitted the morning after the Council meeting.
Independent councillor Christine Alexander said that the actions of Planning Service were “procedurally incorrect” as the decision on an application could not be changed after it had been before Council.
She proposed that an office meeting should be held.
The Mayor, councillor Sam Cole shared councillor Alexander’s concerns and pointed out that the applicant was breaking the law by building without planning permission in the first place.
Independent councillor David McClarty said: “There is so much inconsistency. This committee has full powers.
DUP Alderman Maurice Bradley agreed saying: “We meet here and try and be fair and straight. Part of the problem with Planning is inconsistency and unfairness. Similar applications are not treated in the same way.”
Councillor Alexander questioned if theapplication referred to was a working farm. She said: “This is an application for a farm dwelling. Genuine farmers have to jump through hoops to get applications like these. It appears that if you build first and ask later everything will be okay.”
SDLP councillor Roisin Loftus made an amendment to councillor Alexander’s proposal asking if the application could be sent straight to the Environment Minister.
In light of the amendment, councillor Alexander withdrew her proposal for an office meeting, and members agreed to allow the Minister to look at the application