Northern Ireland

Larne roundabout Jubilee crown can stay for two years

Larne crown
Image caption The crown was erected last year to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee but without planning permission

Larne council has been told it can keep a sculpture of a crown on display in the town until December 2015 but will then have to remove it.

The eight-metre metal crown was put up by the council in the middle of a roundabout without planning approval.

A steel replica of a coronation crown, it was erected to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year.

While the UUP has defended erecting it without planning approval, Sinn Féin opposes it on "grounds of equality".

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Media captionThe Mayor of Larne, Maureen Morrow, said planning permission was applied for

The Department of the Environment has confirmed that the structure was put up by the council without the necessary planning approval last year.

A note on the planning file says the chief executive of Larne Borough Council, Geraldine McGahey, was told before the crown was put on display that it was "not PD" (permitted development), and if erected the council "would proceed at their own risk".

Ms McGahey told the BBC: "On the basis that approval was unlikely to be denied, work proceeded."

The Ulster Unionist mayor of Larne, Maureen Morrow, also defended the decision to erect the structure which cost the ratepayers of the borough £13,000.

"Planning was applied for, but due to time constraints, it (the crown) had to be put in position in time for the jubilee, "she said.

Temporary approval

Party colleague Mark McKinty said the crown was attracting tourists to the town.

"It has been a boost for Larne. Overall it has brought people into Larne, especially tourists," he said.

But Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan said that if something had to erected in Larne, the council should have considered a symbol that would be more inclusive.

"There is an equality issue involved in this - what (the council) has done here means Larne is not a shared space.

"I would like to see some other kind of public art put up there that is reflective of both sides of the community."

"The crown was put up as a temporary measure to celebrate the coronation and the Ulster in Bloom competition, but both of these are now over, so the council should be taking it down."

The council had applied for retrospective planning approval for the sculpture.

After giving a commitment to planners that it would only be displayed on the roundabout for another two years, the DoE has this week agreed to give the structure temporary planning approval.

A senior planner said the department would "proceed with processing the application to an approval with a condition that the stature be removed on or before 1 December 2015".

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