Housing plan for former Belvoir Park Hospital site approved despite being partially on Belfast greenbelt

Approval has been given for 33 dwellings at the former Belvoir Park Hospital site, despite it being outside the Belfast development area and local objections.
The converted listed pavilion at the Belvoir siteThe converted listed pavilion at the Belvoir site
The converted listed pavilion at the Belvoir site

At the Belfast City Council Planning Committee meeting at City Hall this week, elected representatives approved an application from Belvoir Park LLP, London.

The application involves the restoration of three listed pavilions at the site of the former Belvoir Park cancer hospital.

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It includes five “affordable housing” units, intended for “active elderly” people, which is approximately 15 percent of the total.

The application is stage five of the Belvoir Park Hospital complex redevelopment. Phases one to three involve completed new build housing developments as well as completed conversions of three of the six listed pavilions into houses and apartments.

Phases one to four are within the Belfast development limit, while phase five is not within the development limit.

Sixteen objections and one representation in support of the application was received by the council. The objectors raise concerns over potential loss of privacy and overlooking, road safety concerns, contamination, and development plan designations including development outside the development limit.

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Others raise concerns over trees and landscaping, potential uncompleted development “causing an eyesore,” mechanism for delivering the pavilions, the phasing of development, and a potential failure to deliver walkways through the site.

The council report states: “Whilst the proposal is in conflict with policies that direct new housing to previously developed land within the development limit and protect the countryside, as well as conflict with some other policies in the (local development) plan strategy, this has to be balanced against the benefits of the scheme.

“Primarily, this includes restoration of the three remaining undeveloped listed pavilions, but also the provision of enhanced open space facilities for new and existing residents, provision of social housing and improved connectivity to Ballylesson Road and into and across the adjacent woodland.

“Although the site is outside the development limit, regard is had to the limited visual impact that the proposal would have on the countryside and wider landscape.”

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At the City Hall committee meeting, Green Councillor Áine Groogan proposed the council reject the proposal. She told the chamber: “I am not convinced a strong enough case has been made that it is of any massive public interest.

“I think it is really dangerous for us to bring this forward in terms of a precedent for development on the greenbelt. In terms of our commitment to biodiversity and climate, the balance hasn’t been struck.”

Her proposal got no seconder, and did not go to the floor. On an unrecorded show of hands, the application was approved.

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