Thursday, 21 June 2012

Portrush - In the Doldrums

Maritime Theme Blocks Maritime View

Planning Permission?
** C/2012/0260/LDP is now online [23/06/2012]

[click images to enlarge]

Why did the architects and planners get it so badly wrong? Did it not dawn on them that visitors to the Station Square development would be looking straight into bedroom windows on Kerr Street? Did Coleraine councillors fail to highlight this invasion of privacy? Did DETI and DSD check planning decisions  as distinct from proposals - including the views of supporters and objectors -before they decided to allocate funding?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 
Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

And the reason for the protest: The high prow of the maritime theme

that blocks part of the maritime view

Why didn't they make the prow a more sensible height

and also leave more of a sea view in the 'sitooterie'?

Added 21 June 2012

So what did they make of the protest banner and the issues highlighted? Minister McCausland, I'm told, was sympathetic to the points that were made but said that such issues were a matter for Coleraine Borough Council and the Planning Service. The Planning Minister, Alex Attwood, is currently struggling to evade the media spotlight.

Do we have a severe lack of joined-up government? Would the DETI and DSD ministers need to keep a closer check on projects that involve significant sums of public money? Their names have been linked to public realm projects in Ballycastle and Portrush where, in the case of Ballycastle, what was constructed doesn't coincide with the tender drawings - part of one of the stone tables has already collapsed - and, in the case of Portrush, part of what was constructed - the East Strand esplanade - collapsed apparently when the sea washed away some of the supporting sand. There would also appear to be a lack of relevant expertise in the design, implementation and supervision of these projects.

The Planning Service website contains the following:

NOTE: For reasons of confidentiality, Planning Service may choose not to display certain Planning Applications.

Presumably such a note would not apply to publicly funded public realm projects. An official in the divisional office in Coleraine very courteously provided me with all of the reference numbers for applications on the Station Square site off Kerr Street: C/2011/0260/LDP**, C/2011/0431/F, C/2011/0434/F and C/2012/0112/A

C/2011/0260/LDP - Proposal: Public Realm Space proposed for Station Square, Portrush with the introduction of natural stone paving, timber seating, feature lighting and planting works. LDP: Local Development Plan. Permission was granted by the DOE on 20 June 2011. There are no details of dates of Council consultations or neighbour notifications nor are there any associated documents such as drawings online**.

The other applications are final ones for the tensile fabric canopy over the stage and for the two masts. These applications are viewable online.

Was no planning permission given or even sought for the fully detailed Station Square project plans? Were the public in general and the local residents in particular consulted about these plans? If not, is such an arrangement acceptable for an expenditure of £2.3 million pounds?

Here are two images from Google street view taken in 2009 before the alterations to Council and other structures on the seaward side of Kerr Street:

Before the prow

Added 22 June 2012