H2 construction site to stay on life support

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Hassan.
Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Hassan.

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council have agreed to keep a planning application for 3,000 houses on Buncrana Road on “life support” to see if it can proceed.

The matter was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Planning Committee when Sinn Fein Councillor, Tony Hassan, asked that the matter be moved out of confidential business and into open business.

Principal planning officer, Prionsias McCauley, told members that outline planning permission for 3000 dwellings on the H2 site and access road had been granted in 2006 and that significant progress had been made.

However, he said a number of factors including bankruptcy, disagreements and the property crash had led to little progress in recent years.

He added that three main owners own the land, however, there are 20 landowners in total.

“It’s not that simple to identify who the registered owners are,” he said.

“The agent wants us to hold the application for a while to continue negotiations.

“I understand the frustration at the lack of progress however, officers believe it is best to continue liaising with the agent to try and progress.”

He said any prospective developer would have to start again if the land was sold off and this would be a pity since they were so far down the line.

Councillor Hassan recalled that in 2002 council had been informed that this development would be the biggest thing to happen in Ireland.

“The job opportunities for the construction industry were to be enormous,” he maintained.

“I have been involved in this steady. I want to know what the time factor is.

“Will the land be sold off? I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said he would be reluctant to pull the rug from the project after so much work and effort, but they are possibly reaching the point of no return.

“We can’t afford another 10-15 years.”

Members of the committee agreed to continue negotiations for a “short while” to see what progress can be made.