Ulster University’s bid to overturn a planning refusal decision in respect of its ‘Jordanstown masterplan’ has been heard by the Planning Appeals Commission.
Local residents and representatives on both sides of the issue must now await the outcome of the appeal, which took place in Belfast on Tuesday, April 5.
The university has submitted plans to build 600 new homes, shops and car parking on part of its current Jordanstown campus, following the planned move to its new state-of-the-art campus in Belfast.
The redevelopment masterplan also proposes the retention of sports facilities, student accommodation and the FireSERT research centre at the Shore Road site.
However, following significant local opposition to the scale of the project and concerns over what many Jordanstown residents feel has been a lack of meaningful consultation about the plans for the site, the university’s outline planning application was turned down last year.
At a meeting on August 17, members of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Planning Committee agreed with a planning department refusal recommendation for the multi-million pound scheme.
“In refusing the planning application the council considered that a quality housing layout had not been demonstrated, with the proposed development of 600 houses failing to respect the context of the site, and its specific features and constraints,” a council statement said.
“It was considered that the development as proposed would have a negative impact on the parkland setting at the university site, would reduce the level of planned open space and result in the loss of a significant number of protected trees at the site. It was determined that all of these factors would adversely affect the character, amenity value and biodiversity of the site.”
Now, in a bid to overturn the council’s decision, the university has taken its case to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).
Tuesday’s ‘informal hearing’ saw planning and legal experts for the university go up against planning officials and legal representatives for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, as both sides put their cases to the commissioner.
Confirming that the hearing had been concluded on Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the PAC said a decision could take a matter of weeks, or even months.
“The commissioner will consider all of the discussions and all of the submissions and then make their decision. The timeframe depends on the complexity of the case and other case workloads,” she said.