Alliance Councillors to meet with the Environment Minister

Castlereagh Alliance Councillors are to meet with the Environment Minister to raise concerns about a controversial planning application at a local site.

Michael Long and Carole Howard will use the meeting tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the application for a Tesco store at the old Rosetta Bar site. Alongside the other parties on the Council, Cllrs Long and Howard will call for the use of ‘Article Four Direction’.

This planning statement is designed to restrict permitted development rights, meaning the developer is required to seek planning consent that would otherwise be unnecessary, protecting the character of an area.

Cllr Long said Alliance would be asking that all new local stores seek permission for full change of use applications, regardless of the existing use of the location.

“When this application was submitted by Tesco in November, local people were unhappy at the lack of notification but were even angrier when they realised there would not be a full change of use application, resulting in issues such as access to the site, the impact on parking and traffic flows, and the impact on residents not being fully investigated.

“We will ask the Minister to ensure future applications for such stores should invoke the Article Four planning direction so a full change of use application is required regardless of the previous use. The current situation allows stores such as Tesco to find sites with certain previous uses to avoid their applications for new stores facing full scrutiny.”

“This Article was initially used to ensure mobile phone masts were always subject to full planning applications. Given that most of the major retailers are expanding into the local and community stores market, we feel it is essential ratepayers should be able to have their say on all aspects of new stores. Retailers should not be able to use this apparent loophole to avoid real scrutiny,” added Cllr Howard.

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