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Planning Committee Approves Outline Permission For Former Maghera High School Site

Outline planning permission for the development of a business park in Maghera has been granted by Mid Ulster District Council.
 

The plans propose the creation of up to 7 serviced sites at the location of the former high school, with qualifying businesses constructing their own purpose-built facilities ranging in size from 4,000sqft to 20,000sqft.
 
The land on the Tobermore Road has been earmarked as a site to address a gap in the availability of land locally for light industrial use and to meet an identified demand from local businesses.
 
The Planning Committee agreed last night (4 February) to approve the application, subject to a series of conditions which will protect the area’s natural heritage and address other issues including roads infrastructure, drainage and flooding.
 
Originally the application proposed development across the entirety of the former school grounds, however, a revised application reduced the size to ensure that no development would be within an identified flood plain.
 
While a small part of the site earmarked for development is on an area of ‘Major Existing Open Space’, it is not publicly accessible. The Planning Committee considered that recent investment in open space at the Walled Garden in the town and the new Largantogher Walkway, together with the significant landscaping which is proposed on the site itself, counterbalanced the loss.
 
A condition attached to the permission also ensures that identified trees and hedgerows must be retained, while a Tree Preservation Order, also agreed by the Committee, will protect 65 individual and/or groups of trees, with a further 675 new trees to be planted as part of the proposed scheme.
 
While surveys have found no evidence of otters, badger setts or bat roosts on the site, planning permission is conditional on a plan being submitted to show bat friendly lighting on boundary vegetation and badger protection zones being established.
 
Other conditions include a programme of archaeological works, an invasive species management plan to ensure Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam are controlled and the demonstration of adequate road access and parking arrangements by the purchasers of site plots in the business park.
 
A land availability appraisal demonstrated full occupancy in existing business units (Maghera Business Park, Main Street and Sperrin View commercial units), with only 1 unit available in Glenshane Industrial Park.
 
In line with planning legislation, the outcome of the Planning Committee’s determination will be notified to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) for its consideration. The Department has the option to call the application in within 28 days. If the Department is not minded to call the application in or impose any other action, the Council can proceed to issue the decision.

The Planning Committee considered 3 issues relating to the former Maghera High School site as follows:

  1. LA09/2019/0024/O: Outline planning application to support future mixed use and enterprise centre/ business units which will be subject to Reserved Matters Planning Applications submitted by purchasers of plots from Mid Ulster District Council
  2. LA09/2019/0025/F: Proposed development of existing brown field site for development of new internal access road/footpaths, improved access include right hand turning lane, alteration of existing levels to provide platforms for future development, installation of utilities, installation of site fencing, clearance of undergrowth vegetation and associated site works to support future mixed use and enterprise centre/business units
  3. TPO/2019/0002/LA09: Tree Preservation Order

 To view all associated documentation visit www.planningni.gov.uk

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