“I have authorised a Notice of Opinion to approve the National Trust application.”

As the BBC has reported, Northern Ireland Environment Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, has issued a Notice of Opinion to approve the National Trust’s planning application for a Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre. Seymour Sweeney’s appeal against the refusal of his planning application is expected to continue. Now, Minister, about those other developers.. Adds Which is, more or less, what Jim Fitzpatrick asked him on Stormont Live.

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  • I flagged the application up with Sammy Wilson earlier this month, good to see that hes dealt with it swiftly rather than let it fester further. The DUP will be glad to see the back of this hot potato!


    AQW 3726/09
    Mr D McKay (SF – North Antrim)
    To ask the Minister of the Environment for an update on the planning application for a publicly funded Visitors Centre at the Giants Causeway.

    Mr S Wilson (DUP – Environment Minister)
    The planning application for a publicly funded visitors centre at the Giants Causeway has been assessed by my officials in the Planning Service and a report and recommendation is currently with me for consideration.
    I have had no meetings other than those with planning officials as is normal practice. I have not received any correspondence on either of the planning applications.

  • Pete Baker


    The Chief Executive of the National Trust was on Stormont Live today congratulating the Minister for keeping to the 6 month timetable he had told them it would take to arrive at a decision on their planning application.

  • At first sight, it looks like a victory — if not for democracy, that’s asking too much — at least for commonsense. The outline design even looks vaguely appropriate.

    However, I await with interest the considered interpretation from the ever-alert, ever-apt, ever-sane, ever-improving NALIL.

  • joeCanuck

    Is “Notice of Opinion” the same as “Minded to”?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The demolition of that house over the weekend was a flagrant and very deliberate flouting of the planning regulations.

    This wouldn’t happen if the Department robustly enforced the regulations. And by that I mean confiscating the land belonging to any landlord who does this and selling it on the open market.

  • The Raven (who has just about still got somewhere

    Wow, Daithi.

    Your environmental credentials seem impeccable. I await with interest to see what happens at a few other sites up around the North Coast…

  • Quagmire

    If Sammy has his way, It will be constructed by a firm and by people “with roots here”. Bigoted xenophobe!!

  • …And what sites would that be Raven?

  • Do you mean me, Malcolm? 🙂

    It seems we’ve got another arbitrary decision from the dysfunctional planning service.

    Seymour Sweeney, the public face of Seaport Investments (NI)Limited, must be spinning like a top as decisions relating to his project continue to ricochet around various parts of the planning process. Don’t be surprised if there’s a call for a judicial review following this earlier ‘litigation triumph‘ – and don’t put your shirt on an outcome that endorses the ‘notice of opinion’.

    I’ve not visited Sweeney’s earlier ‘hole in the ground‘ project recently but it’s been there for around ten years. Perhaps Sammy Wilson should be looking into it …

  • Joe, this ‘Notice of Opinion’ is Article 31 lingo; think of it as a Ministerial ‘whim and a prayer’.

    “The decision of the Department on Article 31 applications is final.”

    We’ve just seem the third ‘final’ decision; there may have been others 🙂

  • Raven, Mervyn McAllister of McAllister Holdings seems to be having a run of bad luck: Victorian properties on Quay Road burnt, the Marine Hotel next door closed (for three months?) and planning permission for Aurora turned down.

    Mervyn McAllister: “To cast aside such a major investment sends out a hugely negative message to future investors and developers looking at Belfast. It effectively says Belfast is ‘closed for business’.”

    Well, the relatively miniscule Marine Hotel certainly is – at present.

    Daithi, do you support Rita Harkin’s statement that ‘the houses be rebuilt as they were and said failure to insist on this would “make a mockery” of conservation regulations’? Have you or any of your MLA colleagues called for an investigation into the circumstances that led to the tumbling of the Quay Road buildings?

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks for the info and link.

  • Joe, have you seen these gems from the DUP’s Alastair Ross?

    “It must be a matter of deep regret for everyone in Northern Ireland that for most of the time since 2000 when the Causeway Visitors’ Centre burnt down that Moyle District Council and the National Trust were engaged in a wrangle over the issue. These problems saw our premier tourist attraction serviced with a series of temporary structures on the site.

    There is no doubt that it has been the action of devolved Ministers which has forced movement on this issue. Arlene Foster, as the then Environment Minister made clear her intention to look at alternative planning applications and I believe that this helped to finally force some movement from the National Trust and Moyle Council. The outcome of this action is the successful application which has been approved by Sammy Wilson today.”

    1. Moyle DUP ‘wranglers’ opposed the earlier NT plans

    2. Arlene Foster was ‘minded’ to give the project to DUP supporter, Seymour Sweeney

    3. Nigel Dodds cut off funding to the DETI-NT-MoyleDC project in favour of ‘a world class visitor and study centre on lands wholly owned at the Giant’s Causeway by the developer and his company and has been conceptualised and designed by a team** with a global track record for working on and delivering schemes of similar unique specification including other UNESCO World Heritage Sites’.

    4. Arlene Foster loses her ‘mindness’ and reverses her decision.

    5. What is essentially the DETI-NT-MDC project is now the greatest thing since the Ormeau bap.

    ** Presumably not the same team that gave us the bathroom suite in the piggery ..

  • Joe, I think we’ve missed the banner headline: “Sammy says NO – when he means yes”. Geddit? 🙂

  • “Seymour Sweeney’s appeal against the refusal of his planning application is expected to continue.”

    Pete, the Irish News carried the following account:

    Mr Sweeney’s company, Seaport NI, said yesterday it would not continue with its planning appeal.

    However, a spokesman for the developer did not say if Mr Sweeney would still push ahead with his legal challenge.

    He said Mr Wilson’s announcement was “a bad day for planning in Northern Ireland, a bad day for the private sector and most importantly an extremely bad day for natural justice”.

    Back in December 2006 SS made the following perceptive comment:

    On the subject of prices Seymour feels that the housing market in Northern Ireland is very strong at the minute – but is aware that it can ebb and flow depending upon market conditions.

    Indeed. The Cloisters (apartments) near Bushmills have ‘dropped’ to £120,000.

    Seymour says that if he loses out in a planning application he has no hard feelings, he just moves on.

    We’ll see.

    I am a local guy from a local family whose origins in Portballintrae date back to the early 1900’s

    Perhaps on his mother’s side of the house. I’m told that his Belgian father was adopted by the Sweeney family and took on their surname.

  • Nevin

    I don’t know if any of the other MLAs have raised it but I haven’t personally. The reason for that simply being that our local Cllr (Cara McShane) has raised it at DPP level with the PSNI as has Philip Christie (Ind).

    We have called for a proper investigation into the tumbling of the buildings since it occurred and I have no problem reiterating that.