Time to move on.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Time to move on. thumbnailCampaigners against the proposal make their views known.

"IT IS time to move on and stop talking." That is the view of the general manager of JC Campbell in Rostrevor after much wrangling and community objection to a nursing home and apartment complex on the site of the car showroom business.

The development on the Shore Road has been eight years in the pipeline and the subject of several planning U-turns. The latest came last week when council reversed its decision, against planners' advice, to rescind the application due to "legal issues".

JC Campbell is currently making plans to move the car showroom business to another local location so a 70-bed nursing home and 41 apartments can be constructed on the site.

They were given the green light last week for the second time in six months and are now ready to "restore the area to something similar that was there before".

Stephen Campbell, general manager, said none of the refusal reasons given by the council's planning officer "had anything to do with the environment".

"Our family have lived and worked on this site for the majority of our lives.

No one could appreciate the proximity to the beautiful Kilbroney Forest more.

"We were very conscious of this in development of the plans. Both the planning department and government environmental bodies have made it clear there will not be any negative environmental impact. Nothing outside our already developed land will be touched or damaged. The oak woodland will remain as it is today."

Meanwhile, local musician Colum Sands, speaking on behalf of Rostrevor Action Respecting the Environment (RARE) and Love Your Lough said: "You have already deferred, approved and rescinded this application, I beg you on behalf of these people here to refuse."

Mr Campbell also said he has "no reason to doubt" that if all 12 councillors were voting, it "would still have been unanimous", adding that the overturning of a planning recommendation is "far from an exceptional event".

"The professional planning department had five reasons why they were recommending the plans for refusal. Not everyone agrees with their interpretation including our professional architect, the previous planning officer, our planning consultant, a Ministerial Advisory Group and the Planning Council."

He says they have already done some background work for a new site for the car sales business adding it will be "f airly local" to their current site.

In a statement RARE (Rostrevor Action Representing the Environment) said that while they have "admiration for the jobs JC Campbell has provided within the local community"... "the foundation of a successful business is its customers, in your case, the people of Rostrevor, Killowen, Warrenpoint and beyond".

"We feel that it would have been in the best interests of these people and all those who live in this area to hold a public consultation earlier in the planning process so that all views for and against your planning application could have been discussed openly, rather than via social media".

They added that "concerns over the environmental, traffic and economic impact of your planning application remain and were the basis for over 3,250 people signing a petition objecting to the proposed development".

"As stated at last week's planning meeting, the need for a traffic impact assessment was negated in 2012 but conditions have changed drastically since then with the collapse of the A2 into Carlingford Lough in 2014, the increased traffic due to the growing popularity of sporting and public events in Kilbroney Park and the traffic that must be anticipated with 41 apartments, a 70-bed nursing home with all the visitor traffic and service vehicles entailed as well as the cars of the 90 members of staff which you have estimated in your Economic Impact Statement.

"We fully respect the professional ability and integrity of the architects and consultants hired by JC Campbell to deliver a product that would be approved for planning permission.

"However, the Newry, Mourne and Down Council planning officer, employed to uphold the credibility of the Planning System in Northern Ireland, recommended refusal for the planning application on three separate occasions and we have placed on record our concern that your team submitted an Economic Impact Assessment which was based on a plan which was not the plan under consideration at last week's meeting.

"Finally, RARE would like to reiterate their respect for JC Campbell and make clear that there is no insinuation on our part that JC Campbell have been involved in any wrongdoing."


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