Folk singer Sands loses chal­lenge over plans for nurs­ing home at beauty spot

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY ALAN ER­WIN

FOLK singer Colum Sands has lost his le­gal chal­lenge to ap­proval be­ing given for a new nurs­ing home on the shores of Car­ling­ford Lough.

Mr Sands fronted the case taken against Newry, Mourne and Down Dis­trict Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to grant plan­ning per­mis­sion for the 70-bed fa­cil­ity within an area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty.

Backed by other ac­tivists, he claimed the de­vel­op­ment could im­pact on an­cient oaks at Rostrevor Wood in Co Down.

But a High Court judge re­jected ar­gu­ments that the green light was given with­out prop­erly con­sid­er­ing po­ten­tial harm to sur­round­ing con­ser­va­tion ar­eas.

Mr Jus­tice McCloskey held: “Con­trary to the ap­pli­cant’s as­ser­tion, the plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­bers did en­gage with the is­sues of de­sign, scale, mass, qual­ity, set­ting and sur­rounds and im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Mr Sands, who lives close to

Folk singer Colum Sands with his son Dara out­side the High Court in Belfast

the site, sought a ju­di­cial re­view on be­half of the group Rostrevor Ac­tion Re­spect­ing the En­vi­ron­ment (RARE).

Pro­ceed­ings cen­tred on plans to build the nurs­ing home, to­gether with 41 apart­ments, land-

scap­ing and car park­ing, at the lo­ca­tion where a ho­tel once stood.

Ac­cord­ing to RARE it will be sit­u­ated ad­ja­cent to Car­ling­ford Lough and Rostrevor Wood — both of which have pro­tected sta- tus and been des­ig­nated as ar­eas of spe­cial sci­en­tific in­ter­est.

The group fears con­struc­tion work and an in­crease in traf­fic will put the for­est’s an­cient oak trees at risk.

De­spite a plan­ning of­fi­cial rec­om­mend­ing the scheme be re­fused, the coun­cil de­cided to give the go-ahead last year. It fol­lowed an in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment which found no risk to the for­est. But coun­sel for Mr Sands claimed the process was legally flawed.

He al­leged non-com­pli­ance with habi­tats reg­u­la­tions, along with breaches of plan­ning and en­vi­ron­ment leg­is­la­tion, a fail­ure to pro­vide ad­e­quate rea­sons, and claimed the de­ci­sion was ir­ra­tiona.

Putting so much de­vel­op­ment close to a spe­cially-des­ig­nated area gives rise to le­gal and pol­icy con­se­quences which were not recog­nised by the de­vel­oper and not fully recog­nised by the coun­cil, it was con­tended.

How­ever, the judge ruled against all grounds of chal­lenge.

Dis­miss­ing the case, Mr Jus­tice McCloskey con­cluded that Mr Sands failed to sup­port claims that plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­bers made the de­ci­sion with­out ad­dress­ing con­cerns raised in the case of­fi­cer’s re­port.

PRESSEYE

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