Maghera crèche planning application approved

Mid Ulster District Council’s planning committee has approved an application to bring a crèche to a site in Maghera, despite a late objection to the proposal.

Lodged by agent Diamond Architecture on behalf of applicant Specialist Joinery Group, the application seeks permission to bring a new crèche building, car parking and associated site works to lands 75m north east of 100 Coleraine Road.

The application had been recommended for approval by the council planning officer ahead of the planning committee’s meeting on Monday, January 10. However, a late objection saw the chamber divided and a vote was required for the committee to adopt Councillor Donal McPeake’s proposal to accept the recommendation which was seconded by the committee’s vice chair, Councillor Sean McPeake.

Addressing the chamber as the discussion on the application began, a planning officer advised the late objection from the owner of neighbouring dwelling expressing concern about the impact of light entering their property as a result of the building of this crèche.

A planning application for a creche in Maghera has been approved. Stock image.

The objector asked for this to be considered at the meeting or for the application to be deferred for a month to consider this issue.

Continuing, the officer explained other objections from the same objector had been considered within the details of planning report and having considered these objections, the application is still recommended for approval.

Explaining the site layout to the committee, the officer said the crèche was situated 3m from the boundary hedge and 7m from the objector’s dwelling. The hedge screens the dwelling apart from the top portion of a gable and roof and the case officer is of the view these concerns have been adequately assessed during the processing of the application.

Councillor Wesley Brown asked if the applicant would be amenable to the objector’s requests but was told by a planning officer such a request would have a “fairly catastrophic” impact on the site of the proposed development.

“I think we have built in enough mitigation on this proposal as it is before you, to ensure there should not be any negative impact on the objector’s amenity in its current format anyway,” said the officer.

At this point Councillor Donal McPeake proposed the recommendation which was seconded by Councillor Sean McPeake.

Council’s head of planning, Dr Chris Boomer advised the land is zoned as industrial land and could be used for industrial purposes.

“When considering the amenity, to some degree this plan is actually acting as a buffer to the rest of the site which could be developed further for industrial purposes,” he said.

“I think there are advantages for the actual objector as the proposal sits.”

Cllr Brown then proposed the application should be deferred for a month to go back to the applicant and this was seconded by the committee’s chair, who was attending the meeting remotely, Councillor Kyle Black.

Moving the discussion forward, Cllr Sean McPeake said given the fact the land is zoned for industrial use, a crèche, with the mitigation measures in place, is the best route forward.

In response, Cllr Brown said he would still prefer to leave his proposal on the table and as such, a vote on Cllr Donal McPeake’s proposal to accept the recommendation was held.

The proposal to approve the application was passed with seven votes and six against with all members of the SDLP and Sinn Fein voting in favour of the proposal while members of the DUP and UUP voted against the proposal.

Councillor Derek McKinney was not allowed to vote in the matter as he had left the room during the discussion of the matter.