The withdrawal of an application for a shooting range in Co Down has been heralded as a victory for “common sense” and “people power”.
The proposal for an outdoor shooting range close to Groomsport on the outskirts of Bangor gathered over 600 objections amid concerns it was too close to schools and houses.
Alan Chambers, Ulster Unionist MLA for North Down, welcomed the withdrawal of the application for the Ballymacormick Road site.
He said: “This is a victory for common sense and a victory for people power. I welcome the decision on behalf of the people of the area.
“Over 600 people objected to this application and I am also aware that important statutory consultees had been giving it the thumbs down as well.
“Had this project been allowed to proceed it would have totally destroyed the entire character of a quiet and mature Bangor suburb and would have adversely impacted on the quality of life of residents over a wide area, due to noise nuisance and safety concerns.
“I would have preferred if the application had been rejected outright, but this is the next best outcome.”
At the time when the proposal was first met with controversy, the applicant, Bangor, Clandeboye and District Rifle and Pistol Club, said they were committed to working with planners and the local community.
“The club welcomes hearing all views, good and bad, so they can be incorporated into the planning process to develop the necessary solutions,” said the club in a statement.
“The club wants to assure the local community they will be a good neighbour at all times, whether the application is successful or not.”
The club already has a covered range, but the application was for an outdoor target shooting range, club house, target store and firing shelter.
Mr Chambers said he had never seen any planning application attract the number of objections in such a short period of time.
“It’s quite obvious this is completely unacceptable in this part of Bangor,” he said.
Reasons for complaints included noise from the site, its safety implications and an increase in traffic.
A Facebook page had been set up to oppose the plan entitled ‘Stop the Ballymacormick Shooting Range’.
On the page one of the group’s supporters said: “I would like to place on record our thanks to all the local councillors, MLAs from all parties and our MP, Lady Sylvia, who supported us in this fight.”