Double petrol station proposal resurrected

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MAJOR plans to build two petrol stations either side of the M2 have been resurrected by a southern based oil company.

The plans for two stations on either side of the motorway in the Ballycraigy area and close to Roughfort, have been lodged by Petrogas Global, which operates the Applegreen brand in the south.

The plans relate to an initial application dating back almost 20 years which were given the green light by planners back in 1995.

However, following changes to the plan and changes in applicants the project never made it past the drawing board.

The plan was again raised and put before the council in December 2010, this time by Conoco, and was approved by the Planning Service in May 2011.

Today (Thursday) the plans were scheduled to be advertised in the press, this time under the applicant Petrogas Global, and had been placed into the streamlining process which could have seen it approved within weeks of the initial consultation period closing.

Alliance councillor John Blair gave a cautious welcome to the scheme.

He told the Times: “As this is related to an application dating back to 1994 I would have concerns that the area has changed significantly as has the council.

“The plans were put before council two years ago, but again the chamber has changed since then and I would not be prepared to just sign this off blind.

“That is not a criticism of the plan - if could be a fantastic boost for the area with an injection of jobs, both through its construction and after, but it is not, in my opinion right, that this should be eligible for the fast-tracking process and that could be a weakness in the planning system.

“In order for this to progress councillors should have full details provided to them so that we may assess them and have the chance to question the plan and I will be objecting in order to take the plan out of the fast-track process.”

The Planning Service has told the Times the latest application only alters the phasing of the building of the new development. According to the department the developer wants to build the petrol filling stations and phase in construction of cafes and other services at a later stage. Because of these minor changes, said the Planning service, the scheme had been eligible for the fast tracking process.

The Planning Service’s fast-track scheme was extended to cover larger developments earlier this year. Under that scheme, should an objection be received on an application it would be subjected to the full rigours of the planning process.

The Times had attempted to contact Petrogas but was unsuccessful. An agent for the applicant said they had no comment to make on the proposal.