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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK
Councillor's land plan withdrawn
Councillors at Belfast City Hall passed the motion
Councillors at Belfast City Hall passed the motion
A controversial planning proposal by Belfast's Sinn Fein deputy lord mayor has been withdrawn.

Joe O'Donnell withdrew the application on Thursday after Belfast City Council backed a motion expressing concern about his plans.

Mr O'Donnell wanted to build three town houses in his back garden on land he bought from the Housing Executive for 1,000.

However, the proposal was rejected by the Planning Service.

Mr O'Donnell bought the land to be used as a garden, and did not inform the executive of his plan to build houses on it.

On Wednesday, a motion by the Democratic Unionist Party stated the council was unconvinced by Mr O'Donnell's claim that he was "not seeking to profit" from the land.

It was passed with cross-party support by 24 votes to 10.

The council has asked the environment minister to investigate the matter further.

Mr O'Donnell's planning application was rejected for several reasons including a loss of existing open space and concern it could cause over-development, as well as damaging the local character.

He was not in the council chamber to hear the debate, as he is on holiday.

'Politically motivated'

Speaking after Wednesday's council motion, Party colleague Eoin O'Broin said Mr O'Donnell had acted lawfully and had honourable intentions when he bought the land.

Mr O'Broin said people should accept his colleague's explanation that he was trying to solve a local housing shortage and intended to donate the houses to a local housing association.

Mr O'Broin said: "It's a politically motivated attack by the DUP, SDLP and others coming up to a local government election to sully Joe'O'Donnell's name. Joe has simply no case to answer."

However, the DUP's Sammy Wilson said their arguments were not convincing.

"They are not convincing to the Alliance Party, or the SDLP or the PUP or to the Ulster Unionists. Everyone was totally unconvinced.

"I suspect that the reaction there is out in public, shows that the public are not convinced."

Council concern at land plan
02 Sep 04  |  Northern Ireland
Councillor's house plan rejected
27 Aug 04  |  Northern Ireland

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