17 June 2005


Bookies gets the green light

All bets are off as a bookies in the picturesque residential area of Stranmillis has been given the go ahead despite objections from local residents and the planning department, it emerged this week.

It was thought the odds were staked against the bookmakers being granted permission such was the level of objection from Stranmillis residents, Methody College, the Ulster Museum and local businesses. The bookies had been viewed as a rank outsider in the planning dispute after a proposal from the same applicant was turned down back in 1992.

However it’s luck changed following a decision taken after a meeting of the Planning Appeals Commission late April deciding in favour of the bookmakers.
Chairperson for Stranmillis Residents Association, Alison Greg said people living in the area were "gutted" by the news.

"Residents were told on the decision at our meeting this week and they are completely disgusted. It is very annoying for people who live in the area because the planners objected, the Ulster Museum, Methody College and yet it got permission."

She added, "The Planning Appeal Commission is not listening to the planners or the residents. I don’t understand where they are coming from."

It is understood the green light was given to the bookies due to a combination of factors. The main reasons given include; the highly residential area of Rosetta having a bookies, the rear ‘expansion’ at the Stranmillis Road bookies would not prove unsightly as the planning department had ruled and the change in image of a bookmakers has changed over the years to become more socially acceptable.

While residents were taken off guard by the decision SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy said he was "disappointed but not surprised" the bookies has been granted permission.

He claimed, "There is a 90% chance when it gets to the Planning Appeals stage the applicant will succeed."

He said, "I have asked David Ferguson the Chief Executive of Planning to try and implement some changes as the system as it is now is heavily weighed in the favour of the developer."

Cllr McCarthy added, "The area is supposed to be an area of Townscape Character. The building and the area would be better served if it were turned into a residential house."

The best bet now for residents and other objectors was to appeal the granting of the bookies’s license, said the Laganbank cllr.

"Although developers have a right of appeal resident’s have none," he said.

Given that, the best bet now for residents and other objectors is to switch targets and appeal the granting of the bookersmakers licence, said Cllr. McCarthy

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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