College ‘disappointed’ at planning refusal

THE Principal of Hunterhouse College has said he is “very disappointed” that a planning application by the school has been rejected by the Planning Service.

The school had been seeking permission for 25 houses to be built on vacant land which they do no not currently use. They had hoped to then sell the land to a developer and use the proceeds to carry out refurbishments to the school’s listed building, Colin House, as well as to construct an all-weather astro-turf pitch at the school which would have been available for community use as well.

The police have expressed concern to the school about anti-social behaviour taking place on the land, which is not currently fenced off and which the school cannot afford to secure. The school had hoped that selling the land for development would have resolved this issue.

However, the Planning Service rejected their application and their recent appeal on the matter failed.

The Planners turned down the application on several grounds, including the loss of trees, the loss of open space and the impact on the school’s listed building.

“We are very disappointed that the Planning Service didn’t rule in our favour,” said Principal Mr Andrew Gibson.

“From an educational point of view it is very disappointing because the money would have been used entirely for the benefit of our pupils and the wider community.

“When educational budgets are being cut, any kind of funding stream the school can get would be highly advantageous.”

Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea criticised planners for their decision.

“The Planning Service has denied Hunterhouse College the opportunity to provide £1.375 million of development” he said. “This development would give the students improved learning facilities and would bring new sports facilities to the area.

“The Planning Service must learn to work alongside Hunterhouse College in order to get things done for the benefit of the pupils,” he continued. “I understand the Planning Service does not want to set a precedent, however the agency’s inability to seize opportunities is a cause for concern.”