All Posts in Local News

April 29, 2013 - 3 comments

New house in the country approved under PPS21 Policy CTY7.

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.

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March 4, 2013 - No Comments!

Rathlin Island Youth Hostel

[h6]New Build Tourist Accommodation.[/h6]

Rathlin Hostel from the ferry.

Rathlin Hostel from the ferry.

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.

Rathlin Hostel GF Plan

Ground Floor Plan

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.

The Hostel has views of the Harbor and The North Antrim Coast

The Hostel has views of the Harbor and The North Antrim Coast

Rathlin Hostel 3

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]

February 7, 2013 - No Comments!

Aquaholics Dive Centre, North Street Ballycastle.

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.

Confident that we would gain approval at planning, the detailed drawings have already been submitted to building control and the project is being readied for tender.Planning Drawings

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.

January 30, 2013 - No Comments!

Transfer of planning to Local Councils in 2015.

[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!

[h6]Read More.[/h6]


December 14, 2012 - No Comments!

The Warm Home Scheme.

[h6]The Warm Homes Plus scheme provides a range of insulation solutions to homes on a qualifying benefit.[/h6]
This is a great scheme run by the Department for Social Development and provides a range of insulation and heating solutions for low income house holds. The scheme provides Cavity wall insulation, Loft insulation, hot water jacket, energy advice and a range of heating systems. You may also qualify for installation of a fully controlled, energy-efficient oil or gas central heating system where no system currently exists. Conversion of an existing bottled gas (LPG), solid fuel or Economy 7 heating system to oil. With energy prices constantly on the rise it has never been a better time to check your house is not leaking heat and therefore money.

[h6] The house above shows typical hot spots where energy is leaking from your house. Roof and wall insulation make a huge difference. But as the picture shows UPVC window frames also perform badly. The building regulations call for Low E argon filled double glazed K glass yet the frames themselves are hollow with only two 5mm pieces of UPVC separating inside from out. Putting a high performance material in a badly performing frame is madness. But unfortunately it is hard to source insulated UPVC frames in NI. Wood is a good insulator so hardwood frames are the best choice if you can commit to the maintenance involved.[/h6]

The turn over for the Warm Homes Scheme is quick. The projects we have been involved in have typically had a turn over from application to installation of 5-6 weeks and have transformed the homes involved.

This is a great scheme run by the Department for Social Development and provides a range of insulation and heating solutions for low income house holds. The scheme provides Cavity wall insulation, Loft insulation, hot water jacket, energy advice and a range of heating systems. You may also qualify for installation of a fully controlled, energy-efficient oil or gas central heating system where no system currently exists. Conversion of an existing bottled gas (LPG), solid fuel or Economy 7 heating system to oil. With energy prices constantly on the rise it has never been a better time to check your house is not leaking heat and therefore money.

Insulation makes your home hold the heat better, reducing fuel bills and making the home much more comfortable. A good hot water jacket keeps the water hotter for longer and reduces the time and fuel required to heat the water. Increasing the insulation in your home increases your Energy Performance Rating, a "miles per gallon" for heating your house. Which in turn increasing the value of your home.

It is not that often that the government implements a good scheme that does as intended so we would encourage you to check the website bellow or phone to check if you qualify. If you do, your home will be inspected after 2-3 weeks and the works carried out 1-2 weeks after that. It is only a short phone call to check if your qualify. Perhaps you have an old relative who could benefit from a warmer home. If so, you can arrange the inspection from them.

To qualify you must receive one of the bellow;

  • Income Support
  • Income Related Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (with relevant income less than £15,860)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Housing Benefit

For more information about the Northern Ireland Warm Homes Scheme, call freephone 0800 988 0559 or apply online.

December 13, 2012 - No Comments!

Redevelopment of Armoy Filling Station Approved

[h6]Demolish shop associated with petrol filling station with all ancillary structures, decontaminate site and replace with new commercial development, supermarket, petrol filling station, forecourt, improve access to site and provide carparking.[/h6]

Laverty Architecture was pleased to recently gain approval for a new super market, filling station, take away and two additional shop units in Armoy.
A small shop and filling station currently occupies the site and is to be replaced. The new development has been pushed back into farm land which is outside the development limits of Armoy Village. This presented a considerable hurdle to overcome during the application. Armoy sewage works is also at capacity so an on site sewage treatment solution was sought to enable the application to progress. The planners also insisted on an expensive soil decontamination study be carried out before outline approval could be granted. Eventually the department relented and made the decontamination test a condition of approval and the application went to council in November 2011 as an approval. The actual approval documents came through, 12 months later. Just glad to have them after a 3 year frustrating process which demonstrated perfectly that you have to fight to get what the client wants and needs to make such a project viable.

Planning Case Website Link here.


Approval Drawings.

November 9, 2012 - No Comments!

50m Co-Ownership Funding for NI


The Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Housing Association Limited (NICHA) has secured £50m financing deal with Bank of Ireland and Barclays. This  represents the largest single funding arrangement for a housing association in Northern Ireland to date. The deal is aimed at supporting at least 2,500 affordable homes in the next 4 years through Co-Ownership, Northern Ireland's low cost home ownership scheme.

The scheme helps people to own their own homes through equity "sharing", which means part-buying and part-renting the property of their choice. If a person would not normally be able to buy the home they need on a full mortgage, the Co-Ownership scheme enables them to buy as much as they can afford initially, with the option of buying the rest from NICHA at any time.


Co-Ownership rents are worked out on the value of the property and the size of the share the participant takes. The larger the share the lower the rent. To start with the participant buys at least 50% of the value of the property, through a mortgage in the usual way and pays a rent to NICHA on the other part of the property. If they can afford it the participant can buy 62.5% or at most 75% of the property at the start. How and when they increase their share after that is up to them - in slices of 12.5%, all at once, or not at all.
Any kind of property may be considered for Co-Ownership anywhere in Northern Ireland. There are limits on the value of properties which are set by the Department and reviewed twice a year. At March 2004 NICHA has had 17,945 participants with 13,799 of them now owning their home in full.With house prices at their lowest. Now is a good time to get your name on the list!



[contentdivider][h6]Contact NICHA.[/h6]

Freephone number 0800 333 644

Murray House,
Murray Street,
BT1 6DN.

September 6, 2012 - 2 comments

“An idea is salvation by imagination.” Frank Lloyd Wright.

 [h6]The Fountains at Ballycastle Seafront.[/h6]
I can safely say that my 17month old son's favourite thing in the world is the fountains at Ballycastle Seafront. Although not originally designed for kids to run and play in, it has quickly become a centre of fun and activity on a decent day in the summer. The council spotted this and placed seats around the fountain for parents to watch their kids dart through the fountain. Ballycastle seafront looks better than it ever has with the new artwork, seating signage etc. The fountain area has become the the unofficial kids play area at the seafront. Its somewhere parents can sup a coffee while the kids burn off some energy. There is a great buzz around it on a sunny day.
[contentdivider][h6]The Wee Pier Old & New [/h6]
I have fond memories as a kid playing at the Small pier. Before the  modernization of the harbour the sea was our playground.  Today the town is missing a family fun area where kids can play and parents can relax knowing the kids are safe.


[h6]Arcadia Activity Pool Portrush.[/h6]

My kids had a great time in the kids pool at the Arcadia in Portrush and it got me thinking. Something like this would be great at Ballycastle seafront. The Arcadia pool is tucked away out of site and is sheltered by a wall from the onshore winds. An activity pool would present a whole myriad of issues though. The seafront is a large open space which means it can't be tucked away. Some would argue that an activity pool in plane view would detract from the sculpted vistas and artwork.Others would argue that kids are the best form of art and interaction beats appreciation every time.

[h6]The idea. Ballycastle Seafront Activity Pool?[/h6]
The sketch in this video is only a doodle and hasn’t addressed the problems building such a pool would raise. How do you secure it at night? Keep it clean? Stop sand blowing off the adjacent sand pit into it? How do you leave space for the amusements? Is it worth the investment considering our weather? I could go on........ but it is an idea and ideas can grow, change and eventually happen.