The storm surrounding the ownership of #1 Ballyallaght Farm Cottages continues to rumble on. I've also had a look recently at some planning decisions in the townland of Ballyallaght and the response of the Planning Service. It's worth remembering that it lies within the 4km buffer zone that surrounds the Giant's Causeway World Heritage site and that guidelines were laid down back in 1999.
Here are two excerpts from Moyle District Council minutes:
E/2001/0094/0 Outline. Mr D McCurdy. Adjacent to 267 Whitepark Road, Ballyallaght, Bushmills. Site for retirement dwelling. Mr McGoldrick stated that this application represented an insufficient case on need and lacked integration. He stated that it would also create ribbon development and that an approval could not be granted. Councillor McConaghy expressed his strong disappointment at this refusal and stated that he felt a farmer should not have to explain this need for a dwelling. He stated that he felt none of the three reasons given by the planners for refusal were substantiated. Councillor Kane concurred with these remarks and stated that the applicant was heavily involved in potato growing and that there was a strong case on need. He stated that he felt a site meeting should be held in relation to this application. After discussion, it was agreed that a site meeting would be held in relation to this application.
This minute was recorded on 23 April 2001. The application eventually succeeded. This new home is just across the main Whitepark Road from the ever growing 'farm cottages' development.
A second minute was recorded the following month, 21 May 2001, for a development on a site that planners insisted could only have a replacement dwelling and, at most, two other dwellings.
E/2001/0113/F Full. Mr S Sweeney. Junction of Whitepark Road and Castlenagree Road, Ballyallaght, Bushmills. Demolition of disused outbuildings, and erection of fourteen dwellings / holiday homes. Mr McGoldrick stated that revised plans had been received for the above application, and therefore this could now be recommended for approval.
There are currently seventeen cottages on the site and I understand there are plans for at least a further three.
Mr Kyle applied for planning permission for holiday homes at #264 and #266 on the west side of the farm cottages. His application was rejected by the Planning Appeals Commission:
Its August 2007 report on the case stated: "The rationale behind the Ministerial approval of the adjoining development is not clear in relation to whether exceptional circumstances were put forward. " However, a poor planning decision which clearly affects the setting of such an important environmental asset does not justify a further approval."
Perhaps the DOE Environment Committee should invite McGoldrick and senior members of the Planning Service to explain these transparently erratic decisions.