Derry City and Strabane Council’s Planning Committee have approved plans for part of a house to be turned into a bed & breakfast despite concerns from neighbouring residents.
One of the residents detailed the objections to the application regarding the house at 19 Clarence Avenue during the Planning Committee’s meeting on Wednesday evening.
Barbara Curran claimed the proposal to change the use from a private dwelling to a private dwelling with three B&B guest bedrooms “undermines the cohesion of the local community” and would add to parking issues in the area.
Planners recommended that the committee approve the application, stating that there have been 27 objections regarding the proposal regarding the dwelling, which lies within the Derry Area Plan 2011 and within the Magee Conservation Area.
A Planning Officer said that the submitted plans do not show any substantial changes to the elevations of the building other than the replacement of a garden hedge with railings, as well as a few internal changes. Planners concluded that the scale, size and design of the proposal was considered acceptable as it would not adversely affect the character of both this established residential area and the Magee Conservation Area.
Barbara Curran said the impact of such a business development on the community of 21 owner-occupied late Victorian homes would include staff coming and going, deliveries, noise, external lighting and “inevitable car park congestion.” She added: “There is an established problem with parking on Clarence Avenue and due consideration has not been given to this problem, which is chronic and ongoing.”
She said there was a “wider public interest here” in that to allow the development would be to “create a precedent.”
Backing the plans, Sinn Fein Colr. Tony Hassan said the council had been “told time and time again” about the need for more accommodation.
SDLP Colr. Tina Gardiner however, opposed the plans and said the scheme “will cause huge upset in this community,” adding: “There are very few areas in this city that are of a particular character and aesthetic.”
SDLP Colr. Gus Hastings said that there was an agreed position on preserving the character of such areas.
He added that “nearly every house” in the Clarendon Street area was a business. “We have to ask ourselves, is that the type of town we want?”
The plans were approved with 10 councillors voting for it and four against.