New Derry to Elagh greenway approved

Planning permission has been approved for a public greenway for use by pedestrians and cyclists to connect Derry city towards the border at Elagh Business Park.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 12:10 pm

Members of the Planning Committee deliberated at length before deciding against the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.

The new development will see the greenway commence at St. Columb’s College and continue along lands along The Hawthorns to Templemore Road through lands at Templemore Sports Complex to Upper Galliagh Road. From there the development continues along the line of the former Lough Swilly railway line across Skeoge Link Road and on to Elagh Road and Elagh Business Park. The application was previously deferred in July for a site visit.

Officers set out seven reasons for refusal, one of which is that insufficient information has been submitted to demonstrate that it does not prejudice the delivery of the A2 Buncrana Road widening project, and another that it would run through Zoned H1A housing lands.  Speaking on behalf of the applicants, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Ken O’Sullivan responded: “We have engaged with the A2 team and in my view it does not prejudice the A2 scheme.”

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Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor Councillor Christopher Jackson. Picture Martin McKeown. 07.06.21

Sinn Fein Colr. Christopher Jackson said: “We need to insert realism in this, with all the challenges the A2 dualling scheme faces I don’t believe this is one of them. If we are saying this has the potential to jeopardize the A2 scheme then we are in bother. This is a greenway and something we have been promoting right across our city and district as a positive piece of infrastructure to allow people to choose more sustainable modes of transport. If there is zoned housing land we should be incorporating it, to me it is an addition.”

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said: “I agree with what Councillor Jackson said, surely these would be something that would be seen as a positive for future housing developments? I think it’s a fantastic project if we can get it right. Please explain what the ‘compromise’ is.”

Head of Planning Maura Fox explained: “The proposal is on housing zoned land. By severing the site with one aspect of the development, you are potentially disallowing houses in part of the zoning which has already been protected for housing.”

SDLP Colr. Angela Dobbins proposed a deferral to iron this matter out, but others disagreed.

The proposal to defer fell seven votes to four.

Councillors voted nine against and four for the officer’s recommendation to refuse and approved the application with conditions eight votes for, three against and one abstention.

The greeenway will eventually connect into plans for a whole series of new and extended networks that will connect Derry to Buncrana, Muff and beyond.