Bewildered Dromore protesters are clinging to the hope of stalling a proposed housing development apparently recommended for approval despite falling foul of planners.
A number of residents in the Mourne Grange/Lynn Avenue area have for years protested plans for three two-storey houses - adjacent to No 21 Barban Hill and to the rear of 1-3 Lynn Avenue - which they say are out of keeping with surrounding bungalows and encroach on their privacy.
When first the plans emerged some years ago, they prompted a petition and nine letters of objection, citing concerns over devaluation, intrusion on privacy, overdevelopment and substandard access, among others.
Approved nonetheless, the development then faltered, it’s understood, when foundations were laid higher than specified; amended plans have yet to be approved.
Now, however, residents have been advised by planners to expect the development to get the go-ahead.
They mounted a fresh protest at last week’s Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council planning committee meeting, where local councillors responded by calling for a site meeting.
“We received a letter from planners essentially telling us they don’t agree with the plans but we should expect them to be approved anyway,” said one householder. “They say the proposal does not comply with the development plan and other relevant planning policies, would cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance, including the quality of the surrounding urban environment and the amenity of adjoining residents.
“But they say the application has to be considered in light of the existing planning permission for a similar development and the fact that it represents a fallback position for the applicant.
“We’re told the level of demonstrable harm associated with the current application is considered to be the same with the previous scheme, but they don’t feel they can reasonably withhold permission.”
Another resident added: “The plans submitted are to build three two-storey townhouses in this small site, using an unadopted laneway leading from Lynn Avenue for access.
“The main concern of the local residents is that there are no other two-storey houses in the area and this will cause towering and dominance to our homes.
“One resident’s property and sunroom at Mourne Grange is so close that the building of these will completely eliminate her daylight and privacy.”
“ . . . The planning officers have recomended these adjusted plans be approved by the local council but have described the project as unacceptable, overdevelopment and failing to respect established character in terms of layout, density, impact on amenity, massing and appearance of buildings.
“When we asked why this build had been recommended for approval we were told that it was due to permission on the site from 2007; however, we understood planning permission had a shelf-life of five years so why is this site any different?
“The planners have told the residents that this site should never have been passed for two-storey or the number of dwellings in 2007 but because of a poor decision made then it is hard for them to refuse permission now.”
Residents are now anxiously awaiting the outcome of the planned site meeting.