There was dismay for conservation campaigners but relief for a couple involved in a long-running dispute as the Council’s planning committee refused to revoke permission for a development at Prehen.
City solicitor Philip Kingston told the committee DC&SDC had inherited responsibility for a revocation order relating to a site on the fringe of Prehen woods from ex-environment minister Alex Attwood who had given notification of the order in 2013 but never actioned it.
He said councillors were not being asked to consider the merits of a valid planning permission held by a Mr. and Mrs. McDaid for the site. Rather, they were being asked to consider whether revoking permission for the development of a house was expedient with respect to the Derry Area Plan 2011. Mr. Kingston warned members DC&SDC could be open to future compensation claims should it revoke the permission without due grounds.
Lee Kennedy, who addressed the committee on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. McDaid, said his clients had had no idea when they purchased the site in 2003 that they would be commencing a “15 year nightmare that has affected their health and well-being.”
Both George McLaughlin and Damien Martin of Prehen Historical and Environmental Society, meanwhile, referred at length to planning expert John Davies’ 2015 review of the applications that found flaws in the handling of objections but ultimately deemed the approval “not unreasonable.”
After Sinn Féin and DUP members of the committee voted to accept Mr. Kingston’s legal advice, with the SDLP voting against, there were unusual scenes as Mr. McLaughlin entered the centre of the horseshoe shaped council chamber in Strabane to implore councillors to reverse what he described as a “disaster.”