RPS has successfully obtained planning approval for the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) project. The application sees the AANI project as one of only a few within the UK and Ireland that are sited outside an airport or hospital setting.
The need for the Air Ambulance in Northern Ireland was raised after a public campaign for Dr. John Hinds who was fatally injured while working as a race medic at the Skerries 100 Road Race in July 2015. The campaign went on to receive almost 90,000 signatures and was presented to parliament for formal consideration. Across England, Scotland and Wales there are currently thirty-three air ambulances; however Northern Ireland with a population of 1.85 million was without a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) until the Northern Ireland Assembly appointed AANI in 2016.
Alastair McKinley: an Associate Planner at RPS worked alongside AANI’s Chairman Mr Ian Crowe to carry out the pre-application engagement with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council planning department in advance of the planning application being formally submitted for the facility to be located within the larger Maze Long Kesh site.
RPS also assisted AANI in a successful public consultation event with local residents and businesses. The site has a compelling and varied history so generated a good deal of interest: it was initially a World War II airfield and then a military camp, detention centre and prison. The planning application received written letters of support from both the Maze Long Kesh Corporation (the body with statutory responsibility to secure the regeneration of the wider site), other interest groups located at Maze Long Kesh and local residents. The quality of the planning application, public consultation and along with ministerial agreement from Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers, saw the permission being granted within eight weeks in early February 2017.
At 347 acres, the Maze Long Kesh site is the largest development site of its kind under single ownership in Northern Ireland. As one of the most exciting destinations of its kind, the location has true potential to become a shared space that is welcoming and accessible to all, contributing to peace building and reconciliation. Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation, which has the statutory responsibility to secure the site’s regeneration, believes that: “Maze Long Kesh has the potential to generate 5,000 jobs, deliver more than £300m investment and become a global ‘best in class’ project with social and economic regeneration at its core thereby bringing tangible benefits to all. “ The concept for the whole site and resultant framework will provide the basis for a statutory Local Plan concerning the positive regeneration of the site.