Derry public house alterations approved despite objections

The Three Mile House Drumahoe
The Three Mile House Drumahoe

The owners of a Derry pub which was damaged in the August floods have been given the go-ahead to make alterations despite objections from some residents over potential noise disturbance.

Derry & Strabane Council’s Planning Committee voted by a majority to grant planning permission for a new side access door and ramp from the car park and a new smoking area at the Three Mile House in Drumahoe.

Recommending the committee approve the previously deferred application with conditions attached, a planning officer said that elements of the original application, including the creation of a barbecue area, had been withdrawn by the applicant.

A local resident, who said she was representing 68 objectors, confirmed they had met with the applicants and said it was “refreshing” to hear “apologies and excuses” for the establishment over the past few years. She said the applicant had told them it is their intention to change their clientele and not to have loud bands playing. She claimed, however, that there was disappointment as there was “not one compromise made” after residents put forward their own suggestions.

She said that after this meeting, the flooding back in August had actually washed the bay windows at the establishment away, which afforded the applicant the opportunity to triple glaze the replacement windows which they hadn’t done and to look at alternative access point for a smoking area.

She said that following major renovations the bar re-opened before Christmas and the smoking area had two barrel type tables which may encourage smokers to linger with their drinks and create noise. “Then on Boxing night we were subjected to party songs, and I don’t mean ‘Rock The Boat’ or ‘Last Christmas’,” she noted.

The objector said that her family were reluctant to use their garden or balcony because of the proximity to the smoking area and the chance of being “screamed at” by patrons. “We want to feel safe from anti-social behaviour and frightening noises, we want to live healthy lives and for that you need a night’s sleep, and we want to feel equal, where there are compromises made and respect for the residents,” she said.

Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said it was disappointing there had not been a resolution “because the last time this was presented to committee there was a real hope among all of us there would be an amicable solution.” He added that the conditions attached to the recommended planning approval, which included ‘no provision of music or loudspeakers at any time in the smoking area’ and self-closing doors to that area, “seemed to be rational.”

Agent for the applicant, Andy Tate, said that the alterations have been accepted by all agencies consulted and said that the original plans from 2015 included the barbecue area and a balcony overlooking the River Faughan, both of which have been withdrawn.

“My client is happy to work with the residents on all further issues,” he said.

The owner had spent £50,000 redecorating the bar, with costs having doubled during the renovation following the flooding, and Mr. Tate said that as a result the business was under pressure.

He further confirmed that any live music will stop at 12.30 am and that door staff are being employed to help eliminate any anti-social behaviour, while the smoking area would be “strictly managed.” The glass windows referred to had been changed to double glazing, he said, and the building fully insulated, with two self-closing doors fitted and CCTV.

DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock said she lived in the area herself and was aware of the renovations and the “big efforts” made to change the clientele, while Mr Tate confirmed that his client planned to open a restaurant within the premises.

SDLP Colr. Tina Gardiner suggested smoking could be restricted to another area used by smokers at the front of the building, but the agent said the problem here was that this fronted onto the street.

DUP Colr. Allan Bresland proposed the committee grant planning permission and this was seconded by his Colr. McClintock. Seven councillors voted to approve, with three against and one abstention.