New caravan park plan for Rostrevor

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A PLANNING application for a tourism park in Rostrevor has been given encouragement by Newry, Mourne and Down councillors.

The part change of use application, which, as matters stand has been refused by the council, relates to a site at Valley Business Park on the Newtown Road, a mile outside Rostrevor.

On the site at present are some residential properties, a small industrial park and some "quite dilapidated buildings".

The proposal is to create 47 touring caravan pitches, as well as erecting two log cabins, tent pitching areas, and associated works.

At a recent planning committee meeting, councillors were told that the application was first lodged in September 2012, and that various reasons had been given for turning it down.

These included; that there are no overriding reasons why this development is essential in this rural location; the proposed log cabins are not within the grounds of an existing or approved hotel, self catering complex, guest house or holiday park, and that the site is used by otters and potentially by bats.

The council's planning officer told the meeting there was no issue in principle with the application, but if it were to proceed, it would have to be scaled down.

“There is a whole series of reports that are outstanding because it is a sensitive enough area. There is a series of reports, flood risk assessments [and] natural heritage surveys that need to be done, and haven't been done," he also added.

“We have indicated that in principle, if they can arrive at a suitable scheme, permission would be forthcoming. But at this stage in the game, since there is no contact, no engagement with the applicant or the agent, we really have no option but to refuse this application.

“That doesn't impact on what we've already given in terms of a commitment as to the principle, and that's where it sits."

The meeting also heard that the applicant is, unfortunately, suffering from some serious health issues, and may not have been aware that the application was coming up for discussion.

The planning officer made councillors aware that further information had been sought, but not all of it had been received.

Councillor Mark Murnin told the meeting: "It's a pity that the information has not come in because this is the type of thing we need to encourage tourism."

Councillor Declan McAteer, who had requested a full presentation on the application because of the tourism implications, referred to the health issues of the applicant and said: "I would hate to see it going out the door by default."

Councillor Willie Clarke added: "I think everybody's in agreement that it could be a quality visitor site right in the heart of the Mournes. It's something we all want to see the council provide."

It was agreed that a period of one month would be given to the applicant to confirm whether the application was being kept alive or not.

It was also suggested by the council's legal adviser that within that month there must be "satisfactory progress" made, and there should be a "satisfactory time scale in terms of giving the information" provided.


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