Club told to remove facade 'clutter'

Published Thursday, 15 May 2014
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A lavish-fronted Belfast business has been told it should remove the awnings from the front of its premises as they are not in keeping with the rest of the street.

The AM:PM Cabaret Supper Club on Upper Arthur Street near City Hall has an elaborate black facade with canopies, greenery and is even lit up at night.

DOE planning is recommending the club's retrospective application in relation to the awnings as well as signs be refused and the owner ultimately could face a £2.5k fine if they do not comply.

The club has claimed that the DOE said the awnings "detract visual amenity and the wider conservation area and present visual clutter which is not acceptable".

Proprietor Eamon McCusker told UTV that he was shocked by the request as he didn't believe the renovations would create any issue.

"The building itself is old, a kind of box, it's a pretty horrible looking building," he said.

"What we wanted to do was reflect outside what was happening inside, we are a bohemian-style restaurant, a very theatrical-style supper club. We believe that we bring something that wee bit different to the city and we just wanted to reflect that on the exterior of the building.

"We haven't done something that has actually detracted from the street, we've enhanced it and given people a reason to walk down the street.

"Now we're being told to take it down which is pretty shocking and reflects the kind of bureaucracy that holds back the city."

A petition set up on Wednesday by the club has received over 3,000 signatures from people who are against the DOE's objection.

However a DOE spokesperson stressed that the street is a "conservation area in the heart of Belfast".

"The city's built heritage contributes to its appeal and attraction to tourists and shoppers," they commented.

We need planning rules otherwise buildings, extensions to buildings and advertisements of all shapes and sizes, which may not be in keeping with the conservation area, could appear.

DOE

They continued: "These enforcement notices did not come out of the blue. Two warning letters were issued to the manager of the premises, which were ignored.

"That said, DOE acknowledges the contribution businesses make to our local economy. The Minister has asked planning officials to meet with the applicant who has applied for retrospective planning permission.

"They have done that, they will continue to do that in order to try and resolve outstanding issues. The enforcement proceedings will not be pursued until the planning issue is resolved."

They said that retrospective planning was granted for changes to the rooftop area.

It's understood the application is due to go before Belfast City Council after the elections, where councillors can agree or disagree with the DOE's opinion. If the council disagrees, they may request a deferral.

Mr McCusker will meet with the planning officials on Monday to discuss the application further.

Pictured below AM:PM before and after.

 

© UTV News
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54 Comments
Rory Patterson in Bangor wrote (119 days ago):
I can not believe that the DOE have wasted tax payers money over something so petty! I have been to AM:PM many times over the years & to see such a Vibrant, Classy establishment go through this unnecessary hassle to make their business & the area appealing, disgusts me. We live in the 21st Century DOE, Belfast needs places like this to attract tourists and make our economy a better place. This street for many years was drab, dark & uninviting! Now with the effort from AM:PM it has brightened this area up. I advice the DOE to put our tax payers money to better use & shift their energy on something that really concerns our Conservation Areas, than Classy Trendy Awnings. We keep these people in a job for what? Picking on a small business over awnings...seriously the DOE need to get with the trend & make Belfast Vibrant, especially after the long recession that has ruined it. What is this world coming to?? Can't wait to see what next the DOE will do...where's the Brains?
Gerry in Belfast wrote (152 days ago):
There's no such thing as bad publicity...with all the free advertising the venue has enjoyed with the reporting of this story they'll probably get more customers in and paying for a new facade will not be a problem.
Jj in Belfast wrote (155 days ago):
'Keeping with the rest of the street' have to say it , why does the DOE not see 'certain objects' tied to street lighting also not in keeping with other streets. It seems they see that as fitting for our environment. Double standards again here the venue is unique that cannot be a bad thing. The decision maker is not thinking about the wider picture as someone mentioned a dull grey and conserative bore comes to mind.
Tony in Belfast wrote (156 days ago):
That street has the UK and Ireland's most pointless cycle lane on it which the DOE forced on shop owners a few years ago. The result then was that half the existing businesses lost their trade and closed down - fact! It's an ugly street, the rear of the Ulster Bank overpowers the top half of it, there's a multi-story car park on it and so for the DOE to claim that there is a consistent architectural style to the street is laughable and an insult to anyone who's had the misfortune to walk down it. The DOE are proactively Anti-Small Business and this is a perfect example which the media are largely ignoring. My advice to AM:PM, find another street to move to and let the DOE kill off this street once and for all - that's their plan and it's working.
William in Belfast wrote (156 days ago):
This is the same small street quite a few years ago that removed car parking spaces on one side of the road to build an extra kerb to make a cycle lane in a tiny street when people are crying out for parking in the city centre!!
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