Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Planners refuse 90m development

A computer generated image of the Aurora building on Belfast's skyline
A computer generated image of the Aurora building on Belfast's skyline

A developer who has been refused planning permission for a 90m landmark apartment building in Belfast said the decision "simply beggars belief".

Planners said proposals for the Aurora building in Great Victoria Street "did not pay due regard to the character of the site and the surrounding area".

Mervyn McAlister said his plans for the 37-storey building would be a "catalyst" for the area's regeneration.

"It sends out a hugely negative message to investors and developers," he said.

"We have been working with the divisional planning office for almost three years on this project and this opinion simply beggars belief.

"The proposal complies with every statutory requirement but it seems the planning service has taken cold feet due to the height of the building.

"The fact is that the Aurora Building at 109 metres is only four and a half metres taller than the Bedford Square building which was granted planning permission a few hundred yards away."

Mr McAlister said he had written to the environment minister and the first and deputy first ministers requesting that the Executive intervene and approve the application.

The planners' verdict will be presented to Belfast City Council's planning committee on Thursday evening.

A statement from the Department of the Environment said: "As this is a live application, still to be considered by Belfast City Council, it would be inappropriate to discuss at this stage"

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