Council taking legal action to overturn its own planning decision

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Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is taking legal action in a bid to overturn a decision made by its own Planning Committee.

The local authority is taking steps to quash a planning approval decision taken earlier this year after concerns about how the matter was handled were raised by a member of the public.

The decision to allow residential development on green belt land at a proposed golf resort near Hillsborough was taken in January, despite planning officials recommending refusal.

Concerns were subsequently raised that two members of the committee, who’d previously written letters of support in respect of the multi-million pound Wilmar Leisure scheme, were in the meeting when the permission was granted. Neither councillor declared an interest, potentially leaving the committee’s decision open to legal challenge further down the line.

The story broke last week when the Irish News carried an article saying local ratepayers will have to foot the bill for what it described as “an embarrassing High Court action”.

When contacted by the Ulster Star, the council refused to comment on the matter.

However, one council source told the Star that the two councillors at the centre of the issue had written their letters of support several years previously, and in relation to a previous application linked to the scheme.

“The council is pulling it voluntarily, so that way they can bring it back to the committee again in a few months time,” the source claimed.

The plans, which were first proposed in 2003 by Wilmar Ltd, could see the development of a championship standard parkland golf course, a luxury hotel with leisure facilities and houses on land at Trench Road.

It’s thought the £60 million investment could bring more than 200 jobs to the local area.