Planners agree farmers do need buildings away from main farm.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

PLANNERS have now accepted there is a need for "proper housing and handling facilities" on lands over 20 miles away from a farmer's main farm buildings.

However, despite this U-turn, an application for a farm shed on lands off Levallyreagh Road near Rostrevor was still refused by councillors last week after they agreed with planning officers there were "major concerns with its siting and integration" within the landscape.

During a re-consideration of the planning application, planners found on the basis of further information submitted following the application first being discussed in January- namely "animal numbers, the annual use of this land in the farm business and the 43-mile round trip from the existing farm group" - the planning department now accepts the need for a "modest shed" on the Rostrevor holding.

However, they say the site proposed is not suitable and put forward another site they believe is more suitable on lands adjacent to the proposed site, adding "a new application would be required" from the applicant.

"The preferred siting for the building goes against all planning principles when there is an alternative site capable of being integrated into the landscape.

"Given the quality of landscape we have around there, we need to protect it, no matter how small individual sheds are," chief planning officer Anthony McKay told last week's planning meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

The applicant's agent Glyn Mitchell from Ballinran told councillors the proposed site is "not visible from the Levallyreagh Road as it is located over the crest of a hill".

The planners argued the proposed building would be in view from the Clonallon Road.

Mr Mitchell said the proposed site was 500 metres away from the Clonallon Road and it runs parallel to the site.

"If one is travelling along Clonallon Road in both a northerly and southerly direction they are not able to see across to the application site, especially when travelling in a vehicle - this is further reinforced by the fact that the eastern boundary of Clonallon Road is heavily planted with mature trees and associated vegetation, screening potential views," he said .

Mr Mitchell does not see how the second site put forward by the planners is more "integrated".

"If the proposed buildings were sited in the location stated in the department's reconsideration report, it would be clearly visible from the adjacent Levallyreagh Road and would not integrate anywhere near as successfully as the proposed siting due to this stated vantage point and the fact that significant excavation would be required in order to obtain a level surface area on which to build.

"In addition, a farm building in this suggested location would lead to unnecessary adverse amenity issues for future inhabitants of the adjacent replacement dwelling," said Mr Mitchell.

Mr McKay said planners have to "make a judgment call" when deciding on these applications.

"It is a judgment call. It is an overall assessment taking into account the character of the area and you can make a judgment yourself. My staff are of the view that they have identified a potential site and we do not feel what is presently before us is acceptable," said Mr McKay.

When pressed by DUP Councillor Glyn Hanna on whether the applicant would be willing to look at the other site proposed by planners, Mr Mitchell highlighted the cost of 1000 to make an application for a farm building, which was costly to the farmer and would have to be spent again for this other site.

Mr Mitchell said to refuse this application would be "wholly inconsistent and unfair".

Following a vote (6-2) by councillors, it was accepted that the application should be refused.


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