Monday, 19 January 2009

High rise rows in the city centre

Pity the poor planning officials; first there was the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre row, then there was the PPS14 debacle, then came the John Lewis Sprucefield fiasco. They must have thought that 2009 should provide a quieter 12 months.

That was until Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson spoke out on Monday and he wasn’t exactly holding back.

His own officials were in the firing line for rejecting an application for a high rise development on Belfast ’s Great Victoria Street .

The 390m Aurora Building project got the rejection stamp because officials said it "did not pay due regard to the character of the site and the surrounding area".

Wilson, their boss, said the 37-storey development would have real economic benefits for the city and claimed that his officials in planning had scuppered it.

This, of course drew the ire of public service trades union NIPSA, and led, for once to officials saying, ‘No, Minister’. Wilson is hoping that when it comes to the planning appeal officials will remember the BBC programme and say loudly and clearly ‘Yes, Minister’.

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