MEMBERS of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Planning Committee have voted unanimously to overturn a recommendation to refuse planning permission for a new aircraft hangar in Altamuskin.
Planning officials had initially recommended refusing the bid by Hilltop Flying Club to construct the hangar with a control room, complete with viewing area at its airstrip just north of 167 Altamuskin Road, some three miles from Sixmilecross.
Despite planning permission being granted to a runway at the site in 2016, which has since been constructed, a report put before April’s Planning Committee outlined that the new proposed building falls just outside the settlement limit of Altamuskin.
Planning officials also claimed the structure would be unsympathetic to the surrounding landscape and environment.
But in submissions to the committee on behalf of the applicants, Sinn Féin councillor Stephen McCann and DUP MLA Tom Buchanan both highlighted the number of agricultural structures already in the surrounding area. They also drew upon a series of wind turbines and a number of quarries in the locality.
Cllr McCann described the Hilltop Flying Club as a “small not-for-profit amateur club, who promote aviation in the locality”, adding, “They take great pride in the cross-community nature of their club and rightly so.”
Echoing those sentiments, Mr Buchanan said, “It has the support of the entire community,” adding, “There is no objection to it.”
Imploring the committee to take into account the “community benefit”, he pointed out, “The runway has already been approved, so how can the club move forward if this hangar is not in place?”
An agent for Hilltop Flying Club, told the committee that the new structure was necessary to provide secure and weatherproof shelter for microlight aircraft, which he claimed at present have to travel as far as Newtownards, Kilrea and Letterkenny to ‘hangar’ their aircraft.
The combination of the three submissions appear to convince the members of the Planning Committee.
A proposal by UUP councillor Allan Rainey to approve planning permission was seconded by DUP councillor Errol Thompson and unanimously supported by the rest of the committee.