Installation of Photovoltaic Panels on 7 Solar Park Ground Mounting Systems.
Laverty Architecture has just received approval for a domestic Solar Park in Ballycastle. The approval will produce 50kw of power when the three-phased stages are complete. The panels are mounted on a much lower ground mounting system than usual due to the urban location. They are less than half a metre high from ground level and are weighed down by concrete blocks and therefore do not require any foundation.
Laverty Architecture just received approval for a change of house type outside Ballycastle. We got the original approval on the site and it's nice to see the site go through to the building stage. We had a much bigger house approved on the site for the previous owners which didn't suit the needs of our current clients.
Dwellings for Non-Agricultural Business Enterprises.
Approval for a new house in the country at Glenmakeeran, Ballyvoy.
Farmers, under PPS21 are permitted one dwelling on their land every ten years. The policy's aim is to provide a home for retiring farmers, family or workers associated with the farm. Within PPS21, policy CTY7 sets out the conditions required for a Non-Agricultural Rural Business to qualify for a dwelling associated with the business. Similar to CTY12 for Farm Dwellings, the policy recognises that Non farm related rural businesses also contribute greatly to the rural economy and therefore should be afforded similar opportunities to provide accommodation at the business for security and to assist in the running of the business. Unfortunately the Planning Department and the Planning Appeals Commission have until now, taken a very negative position regarding the implementation of this policy.
Its always good to see a build start in decent weather. If you can get them out of the ground in good weather then the battle is half won. This contemporary house has been approved at planning for a years now and finally started a few weeks ago. Its the last remaining site in the long finished Kilcreg Park development, Ballycastle. The site is restrictive with no actual frontage onto the road bar the access and is surrounded on all sides by neighbouring dwellings. Great care had to be taken when designing the house to ensure the clients and neighbours privacy is respected while at the same time taking in the views of Knocklayde mountain and maximizing solar gain.
[h6]Kilmahamogue Road Houses.[/h6]
Its good to see a house finished and ready for a family to make into a home. The house bellow is one of two houses we took from Green field site to full planning approval. The neighbouring house was finished two years ago and is now occupied and we gained planning for the new owners to convert the attached double garage into a small bedsit and build a new single garage to the rear. This house has always been my favourite of the two and its really good to see it finished and on the market. Mc Caw Contactors did an excellent job on both houses.
We just received approval for another Solar Farm. The application was for 208 Photovoltaic panels mounted on 13 solar park ground mounting systems. Culmore organic farm is just outside Kilrea and supplies organic beef and milk to the public direct from the farm. This approval is part of the farms overall renewable energy strategy and will contribute greatly to the viability of the farm in the long term. You can check out what David and family are all about at the farm website here.
[h6]New Build Tourist Accommodation.[/h6]
Just back from a trip to Rathlin Island to look at old jobs and new. It's a beuitiful place all year around but even more so at this time of the year, out of tourist season. So quiet, yet its bustling as the Islanders go about their daily lives. There is only 80 of them and they all seamed to be on the move. The main reason for the trip was to check up on progess with the Youth Hostel which is currently under construction. It will hopefuly be finished and open for this summer.
Around 60 000 tourists visit the island every Summer now that the new catamaran provides a quick and comfortable way to cross from Ballycastle. Most tourists are day trippers. The Island only has 29 over night beds available, so the majority of visitors leave on the last boat. A lot of these beds are long term rents to seasonal workers. The island is crying out for extra beds and the Hostel currently under construction aims to fill this void. The Planning Proposal was therefore very strong. Laverty architecture produced a business plan highlighting the economic benefits to the island as well as the drawings and usual paperwork. The Hostel itself replaces the demolished run down outbuildings which occupied the site, creating only a small increase in built form. The site itself is 15 minutes walk from the harbor, beside the old Kelp House. The site of the hostel is quite restrictive. Access to the adjacent dwelling and boundaries dictated the footprint of the building and we had to work with those constraints from the start.
Ready for plastering inside and out, then the screed to the floors and 2nd fix. The push is on to get the Hostel opened for the summer. All materials have to be ferried over, so the weather is potentially a big factor in keeping the project on schedule. Also adds complications and extra expense to any building projects on the Island. All the Islanders I talked to all think the Hostel will be good for the island. I will be back to see it when finished and maybe give it a test drive myself when its open. [/full]
After a 5 year planning battle Laverty Architecture gaines approval to retain Fred's home.
The log cabin was placed on the site without planning permission and Planning enforcement immediately issued Fred an enforcement notice. An Architect friend of the family lodged an application for planning which was subsequently taken to council as a refusal. At this stage Laverty Architecture was asked to take over as agent.
Over the next few years we generated the largest file (standing at almost a foot tall) this office has ever seen. Many different policies where tested and we had many meetings with the Planning department, Local politicians, MLA's and MP's. Ultimately the Planning Department felt they could not approve the application for fear of setting a president for this type of building in the countryside.
Plans were refused for reasons:
1.The proposal is contrary to Policy CTY1 of Planning Policy Statement 21, Sustainable Development in the Countryside in that there are no overriding reasons why this development is essential in this rural location and could not be located within a settlement.
2.The proposal is contrary to Policy CTY6 of Planning Policy Statement 21, Sustainable Development in the Countryside in that the applicant has not provided satisfactory long term evidence that a new dwelling is a necessary response to the particular circumstances of the case and that genuine hardship would be caused if planning permission were refused,
3.The proposal is contrary to Policy CTY13 & 14 of Planning Policy Statement 21, Sustainable Development in the Countryside in that the building is of an unacceptable design and is a prominent feature in the landscape. The site is unable to provide a suitable degree of enclosure and integration for the building and the development therefore erodes the character of the surrounding rural area.
4.The proposal is contrary to Policy CTY10 of Planning Policy Statement 21, Sustainable Development in the Countryside and does not merit being considered as an exceptional case in that it has not been demonstrated that the farm business is currently active and has be4en established for at least six years.
The Appeal on the refusal was then lodged with The Planning Appeals Commission. And a hearing date was set for the week before Christmass 2012.
A lengthy statement of case history and rebuttals to the Planning Department's reasons for refusal was prepared by Ciaran Laverty and submitted long before the hearing date.
During the two hour hearing, the Planning Department, along with Fred and his neighbours where all asked various questions by the commissioner. Ciaran was only asked to confirm his name, then told “you have provided me with a very comprehensive and frank statement, so we won't need to hear from you today” So sat and listened for the rest of the hearing.
The decision from the PAC came in a few days ago and its clear from the report why the PAC approved what the planners thought they couldn't.
Policy CTY6 PPS21 relating to “domestic and personal circumstances”. Not every planning case fits the strict criteria of PPS21. CTY6 allows the planners to essentially “have a heart” and grant approval where “there are no alternative solutions to meet the particular circumstances of the case,” Unfortunate no one had told the planners to what degree this they can have a heart, so they simply had none and left it to the Planning Appeals commissions. The planners to their defence do not get steerage from anyone and generally apply policies based on PAC rulings.
Thankfully The Planning Appeals Comission granted Fred's Approval. Fred can now for the first time enjoy his home and his retirement without fear of eviction and demolition.
Planning Appeal Commission decision. Link
Laverty Architecture just gained planning approval for extensions and alterations to the Aquaholics Building, North Street Ballycastle.
When completed, the building will contain accommodation for around 20 divers as well as classroom facilities and a small retail area for dive equipment. Aquaholics operates dive boats out of Ballycastle harbor to the many wreaks in Ballycastle bay & Rathlin Sound.
This development is good news for Ballycastle as it will attract site specific visitors who will now stay in the area, spending money in the local economy.
Aquaholics Website Link.
Planning Case File Link.
[full]The Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 provides for the transfer of the majority of planning functions from central government to district councils. It also brings forward a number of reforms to the planning system.
Its unclear how this will all play out and at what pace. The "trial period" isn't specific. We have heard that the planners themselves will most likely remain in their central offices and carry on as before but more focused on the areas individual characteristics and needs (I hope) during any trial period. Local councilors might actual gain some teeth when it comes to planning matters. Currently MLA's & MP's seam to be the only elected representatives who carry clout on difficult cases relating to policy.
This lack of clout has in my opinion always broke the democratic chain with regards to planning. In England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland all Planning is local council run. Run by people who know the area and its needs. They work closely with building control, often out of the same office. Those planning officers are under the same roof as the councilors they answer to. They then answer to the electorate and democracy works.
It won't we easy for the councilors either. If plans are refused by the Planning officer, they can be referred to a council appeal. Here our elected representatives will be expected to take the full context of the planning policies into account much as the Planning Appeals Commission currently does. Then take a vote. Currently all local councils have a tendency to have a blanket support of all planning applications unless their is considerable public concerns. Tough and unpopular calls will have to be made to retain the character of the local area and often it will be councilors making that call. Lets hope your local councilors are up to the task!