Controversial plan for ‘super cemetery’ close to UGP circuit turned down

Members of Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club, the Ulster Grand Prix Supporters Club and Dundrod residents pictured outside Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's offices following Monday's Planning Committee meeting. Pic by Stephen Davison
Members of Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club, the Ulster Grand Prix Supporters Club and Dundrod residents pictured outside Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's offices following Monday's Planning Committee meeting. Pic by Stephen Davison

A controversial planning application for the creation of a so-called “super cemetery” near the site of the Ulster Grand Prix circuit in Co Antrim has been turned down.

Members of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s Planning Committee yesterday decided to refuse planning permission for Loughview Park Cemetery at Dundrod – a decision that will come as a relief to the thousands of people who objected to the application.

The Loughview Park Cemetery masterplan.

The Loughview Park Cemetery masterplan.

Committee members ruled that there was no need for the cemetery, which would have had an estimated lifespan of 75 years, in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.

The 96-acre development was to involve an initial £10 million investment and include funeral facilities, catering, parking, woodland walkways and a memorial garden.

Carston, the company behind a proposal, said it was “dismayed” by the committee’s refusal decision.

However, it has been welcomed by local residents and supporters of the Ulster Grand Prix, who feared the new cemetery’s proximity to the race circuit could spell the end for the annual motorcycle road racing event.

UGP organisers, the Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club, welcomed the Planning Committee’s “unanimous rejection” of the application.

“Race fans far and wide felt so strongly about the impact these plans could have on this international event that they launched a ‘Don’t Bury the UGP’ petition, which has been supported by motorcycle fans around the world,” Des Stewart, chairman of the Ulster Grand Prix Supporters Club, commented.

Noel Johnston, UGP Clerk of the Course added: “We are pleased with the unanimous decision taken by the council Planning Committee to reject the cemetery in favour of the planning officers’ recommendation for refusal.

“I’d like to thank all of our stakeholders including the race fans and local residents who worked very hard to achieve this positive outcome for everyone but especially the Ulster Grand Prix.”

DUP Alderman James Tinsley, who has opposed the application from the outset, welcomed the committee’s ruling, saying it came as “a huge relief” to those fighting the controversial plan.

“In the end it all came down to need and it is clear that there is absolutely no need for this cemetery in this area,” he said.

“I have to commend the residents, especially those who did all the hard work to make sure their case was heard.”

A statement issued by Carston claimed that while there may not be any need for additional cemetery space within Lisburn and Castlereagh at present, there is a need for new burial space in the neighbouring Belfast City Council (BCC) area.

“Following years of ground tests and environmental assessments, a planning application was submitted by Carston in June 2016. That application and supporting environmental information has now been deemed technically sound by all regulatory agencies and the site has been deemed suitable for cemetery development. We are therefore dismayed that the application should now be recommended for refusal by Lisburn planners, because there is apparently no ‘need’ for it in the LCCC area. It is well known that there is no available land within the BCC area for a cemetery mainly due to underlying geological conditions.”

The company said it had spent “a huge amount of money in trying to secure planning permission” for the project.

“The Loughview Park site would become to north and west Belfast what Roselawn is to the south and east of the city. It would also become a vital piece of civic infrastructure for the entire Greater Belfast, Lisburn and South Antrim catchment area. If Belfast City Council and others want it to become a reality, they need to get involved in this planning debate now,” the statement added.