There has been an angry response to comments made at this week’s meeting of the Derry and Strabane District Council Planning Committee, when it was suggested there should be ‘constraint’ on development in Bridgend to aid Derry and Letterkenny.
It was suggested at the meeting that consideration needed to be given to the “wisdom” of permitting significant amounts of retailing, employment land and housing in close proximity to Derry city in light of its own Local Development Plan, which will seek to “reinforce” its ‘primacy.’
The committee was consulted by Donegal County Council in relation to its draft local area plan 2012-2018 for the county’s tier two towns, of which Bridgend is one.
In a draft response to Donegal Council, Derry and Strabane Council noted how both councils were working to develop the North West region, but “respectfully suggested” it would be appropriate to constrain development on settlements such as Bridgend in support of the growth of Derry and Letterkenny.
The use of the word ‘constraint’ in the response caused concern with Councillor Patricia Logue, but Councillor John Boyle asked if they should be “so concerned” with Bridgend.
“You’d blink and you’d miss it,” he said.
The draft response has not yet been sent amid suggestions it could be ‘tempered.’
Within the response, it was stated that the tier two towns plan was an opportunity for Donegal and Strabane and Derry councils to demonstrate ‘joined-up’ rather than ‘back-to-back’ developments to ‘promote development rather than competition.’
Donegal County Councillor John Ryan, who lives in Bridgend hit out at any plan to stilt growth in the village, which was designated as tier two by the Council due to its nature, size, location and economic benefit not only to Donegal but as a “support town” to Derry and Letterkenny, as well as its cross-border location.
Colr Ryan pointed out how the development of Bridgend over the past number of years has not only had a strong impact on the Donegal economy but also on that of Derry and at present is a “thriving hub of economic activity.” He said that given the extent of lands on both sides of the border, he’d advocate a ‘masterplan’ be developed for potential proposals on each side.The Derry and Strabane Planning Committee said they looked forward to continuing liason with Donegal County Council as they plan for the future of a thriving North West region.