Developer commended as housing complex in Lettershandoney approved

Plans for almost 100 new homes and shop units in Lettershandoney have been unanimously backed by the local council's Planning Committee.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 8:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 9:24 am
The site where the houses will be built to the left of Lettershandoney Avenue.

A total of 91 units are to be constructed by applicant, ADMS, at the new estate comprising of detached, semi-detached, terraced one and two storey dwellings, as well as two shop units with four apartments above them.

The development also includes associated green spaces, parking and access and existing roads and access improvements to Lettershandoney Avenue and Tirbracken Road at lands near the junction of Gorticross Road and Lettershandoney Avenue.

The Planning Committee was told that the area at present consists of poor quality land, with a wide, wet ditch at the northern boundary, beyond which is an earth bank with gorse, hawthorn and willow trees and a post and wire fence.

During the course of the application, it became apparent that part of the site was within a floodplain, but only due to the fact there was a blockage upstream.

The agent has revised the levels to lift the development above the potential flood plain which may occur if a future blockage did occur further upstream on land outside the developer’s control, to future proof the homes, driveways, gardens and roads, a report by developers confirmed.

Future property owners/ occupiers will also be advised of their responsibilities of maintaining the watercourse and keeping it clear of debris as riparian landowners.

Speaking during the Planning Committee’s monthly meeting, Sinn Fein Colr. Christopher Jackson asked whether the changes to the application were as a result of concerns raised by the Rivers Agency or something the developer initiated himself.

Speaking on behalf of the applicants, David Graham said the decision was taken “due to a need to protect the site” and Colr. Jackson welcomed this was a “refreshing approach” from a developer.

SDLP Councillor Gus Hastings said: “Obviously we are all concerned about flooding - we have seen the effects on Eglinton and Drumahoe,” as he asked how the “shuck” would be kept clear and free flowing.

Mr. Graham said he lived in a flood risk area himself so he was well aware of the issues and said in this new development there would be an onus on the owners/occupants of the houses to keep it clear.

He added that the water course was of a very minor nature and was not even a stream.

SDLP Colr. Angela Dobbins said it was unfortunate there would be any play area planned for within the new estate, but was told that this was only a requirement for developments with 99 homes or more and that there would be green open spaces for residents.

DUP Colr. Hilary McClintock pointed out, however, that there was access from the site to the local community centre and play park.

She said: “This is very welcome, much needed housing in this rural area and I welcome how the landowner or developer has worked to address outstanding issues. I am happy to propose we accept the recommendation.”

Colr. Hastings said he had no difficulty in seconding this. He said the council had spent £300,000 building a new park “and we are in the process of extending the community centre there and this will enhance the use of the park and the leisure space.”

Colr. Jackson agreed. He said: “Ninety-one houses anywhere makes a significant dent in the housing need. In rural areas it can’t be overstated how significant this development will be.

“There’s no requirement to provide play facilities and sometimes play facilities can have a detrimental effect and can be quickly broken and become a problem. The best approach is to use the existing facilities.”

Welcoming the development, the chair of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee, Colr. Warren Robinson said: “I am delighted to see these plans granted approval. The provision of over 91 homes is particularly significant as it will have a major impact on the development of the area.

“It demonstrates council’s commitment to alleviating the growing pressure on housing provision here in Derry and Strabane and improving the quality of new developments as they progress through our planning system, a priority of our emerging Local Development Plan,” Colr. Robinson added.