Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ballycastle and the Mystery of Coalyard Cottage

A Very Curious Business

[Click images to enlarge]

The mainstream media mistakenly presented the former Coalyard/Old Salt Pans Cottage on Carrickmore Road, Ballycastle, as a Marconi residence.

Ms McMath stated that this application was recommended for refusal due to the application being contrary to Policy CTY1 no justification for the replacement of this vernacular building and 5 of PPS14, no justification for the replacement of the building, worthy of retention and unacceptable visual impact. .. Moyle Council Minutes 31.03.08

Some months later and two days before Christmas 2008 what appear to be the same plans were nodded through Moyle District Council in a bundle of plans recommended for approval; three days before New Year Coleraine Planning Sub-Office granted official approval. I wonder if the Council has subsequently changed its procedures so that there's no re-occurrence of such a practice.

The architectural sketch shows that the existing stone wall on the south side was to have been retained/refurbished yet it was tumbled and a new concrete wall was erected and stone clad instead.

The Northern Ireland Environmental Agency had to intervene when rocks were removed from the foreshore.

According to Coleraine Chronicle, November 25, 2010 a Roads Service representative said: "We have given the builder temporary and courteous approval to make the site safe. He assured me it wouldn't be permanent. I can confirm that as of today (Monday) with further conversations it is his intention to remove the barriers this week". What about the more permanent looking heavy metal gates that straddle this public road? Were they erected and closed before or after the Roads Service gave approval for the road to be blocked? Will they be removed too? [They've been removed]

The photo shows that the road has been blocked off at the edge of the garden wall with a landscaped embankment. Was Roads Service approval sought or given? Should a public agency wish to restore part of the old tram track on the Fair Head side to make it a little more accessible for walkers there is now apparently no provision for vehicular access.

There are a series of ancient saltworks on the foreshore alongside Carrickmore Road; one of them is located at the north-east corner of this property. There's a strong possibility that these could form part of the proposed Atlantic Salt Trail and become an additional key tourism feature in Moyle alongside Bushmills Distillery, the Giants Causeway and Carrickarede Rope Bridge. Have Moyle District Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board made contingency plans, including access arrangements, to facilitate this prestigious European project?

Where were the guardians of this Area of Special Scientific Interest whilst the above works were in progress?

Added December 3

Access to the countryside is primarily the responsibility of District Councils but I sometimes wonder if Moyle Council is more likely to facilitate restriction of access than to act in the wider public interest.

Councils can create new Rights of Way by agreement with owners or by order. I'm told that the road now known as Carrickmore Road was formerly known as Colliery Road and that this accommodation road serving the collieries and saltworks ran at least as far as Carrickmore. It's marked on the 1830s OS and earlier maps. A short part of this road just past Coalyard Cottage/Old Saltpans is covered by a landslip. I'm told that there is at least one style across a fence on the road to Carrickmore. I'm also told that the new landscaping which acts as a barrier on the road has created a significant degree of anger locally.

Will the possibility of Ballycastle being on the prestigious Atlantic Salt Trail be contained in the report to council on December 13? The Council meeting begins at 7 pm. I'm told that one of the saltworks is adjacent to Colliery Road at Carrickmore.

Moyle Council has just forwarded an NIEA response to the alterations:

This office has never received a consent application for this, although planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of the house at 40 Carrickmore Road in 2008 ( Planning Ref: 2006/0256/F ). The house itself is outside Ballycastle Coalfields ASSI, although the designation surrounds it.

The response makes no mention of the action NIEA intends to take with regard to this and related matters, some of which have been recorded in NALIL blog and other places.

Added December 4

The Ballycastle Stuff Facebook link has brought new readers to this story from home and abroad; it also provides an opportunity for a exchange of views on public v private access, vagaries of the planning process, the role of elected representatives and the ability of public agencies to enforce regulations.

Added December 14

Access along Colliery Road

Earlier articles: 'Marconi Cottage' Gaffe; Not Marconi's Cottage - The Sequel; Not Marconi's Cottage III; Some PR History; Stone Cladding.