Following a thorough analysis and various consultations, the Commission found that the proposed platform ‘covered a public open space, being a ‘public beach’.’ Therefore, the proposal was deemed to be in breach of Thematic Objectives 5 and Coastal Objectives 1 & 3 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED). Against this background, the Commission proceeded to turn down the applicant’s request.
In reaction, the applicant filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should have been approved. In his application, the applicant submitted that the Commission’s only concern related to the concrete platform.
Now, Policy T05 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development provided that existing recreational resources should be protected, enhanced and made accessible allowing for ‘the provision of new recreational facilities to improve social cohesion, human health, air quality and biodiversity’ whereas coastal policies were in favour of new recreational facilities as long as these ‘do not restrict or interfere with physical and visual public access of the coast and in a manner which does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on protected areas, species and areas of high landscape sensitivity’.
All things considered, the applicant contended that the proposed platform was deemed acceptable since none of the cited SPED objectives were being compromised.
In reply, the case officer representing the Authority underlined that the area in question consists of ‘typical coastal features that are scheduled for their ecological importance’.
More so, SPED Thematic Objective 5 was meant ‘to ensure that existing recreational resources are protected’. According to the case officer, the proposed platform formed part of ‘the existing natural foreshore, which is typical of eroded holes and coastal boulders’. Consequently, these natural features should be preserved ‘in their natural state and not serve as an ‘excuse’ for the taking up of public land for the use of a commercial activity’.
Concluding, the officer reminded the Tribunal that North West Local Plan Policy NWLA 2 expressly prohibits the introduction of any inappropriate structures or activities which in the Authority’s opinion ‘adversely affect designated Areas of High Landscape Value of Coastal Cliffs’.
For its part, the Tribunal assessed that the concrete platform was deemed inappropriate since the pristine foreshore would be compromised. For this reason the Tribunal approved the application, however subject to doing away with the concrete platform.