Two planning decisions by Mid Ulster District Council’ have demonstrated ‘sustainable development in action’ in the Sperrins and surrounding area.
Two separate decisions, relating to a new ‘dark skies’ observatory and visitor hub in Davagh Forest, and a new sporting and cultural facility at Kildress were taken at a meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee this week (7 November).
A third decision on a sustainable development proposal for a wind farm was, however, refused on the grounds of its significant visual impact in the Sperrins’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its potential to detract from the development of tourism and important archaeological sites, as well as direct impact on neighbouring dwellings. Significant local objections had also been received.
Meanwhile, the proposal to develop ‘Dark Sky’ facilities at Davagh Forest, which is one of the few places in Ireland where the night sky can be viewed unaffected by light pollution, moved a step closer following the Committee’s approval of an observatory, visitor hub and glamping pods at the site which is already a popular mountain biking and walking destination.
At the foot of the Sperrins, Kildress Wolfe Tone’s GAC is to benefit from a new community building incorporating sports, leisure and cultural facilities, including team changing rooms, a multi-purpose hall, gym, conference and community space.
Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan, said:
“Our role is to enhance areas like the Sperrins for the benefit of local people and visitors, while protecting what is also a significant natural heritage site.
“These decisions show sustainable development in action, using our natural assets to draw visitors and contribute to Mid Ulster’s tourism goals, and also ensuring that we support local sporting organisations in their efforts to create and increase sporting opportunities and that sense of belonging in rural communities which is so important”.
Full details of the planning applications considered by the Council’s Planning Committee can be found on the Council’s web site at www.midulstercouncil.org.