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Residents fury at housing development apperoval

Local resident, Gerry Kerr illustrates how, as the footpath is unfinished, pedestrians have to walk onto the road.

FURIOUS members of a local residents group have branded a decision to give the go-ahead to the building of a housing development in the locality as a “disgrace”.

The members of St Mary’s Residents Group in Killyclogher made their comments on exiting the Townhall in Enniskillen on Monday morning after councillors on the Planning Committee voted by the narrowest of margins to approve planning permission for the project. The proposal was carried by six votes to five after both sides addressed the meeting.

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The dispute centres on a footpath along St Mary’s Road which the residents claim is dangerous for pedestrians but which has been deemed safe by DfI Roads and the Planning Authority.

The applicant, local businessman Kieran McGinn, proposed the development of 31 dwellings, garages and associated works, including a pedestrian link to Killyclogher Burn walk and the retention and completion of the footpath along St Mary’s Road.

Addressing the meeting he said, “I have applied for a housing development and after much scrutiny it has been acceptable by the professionals. This application has been checked and double checked and deemed acceptable. I can’t understand why the objectors think they have greater expertise than the professionals.”

During his address to the meeting, Darren Lawlor, who is chief planner at council, stated that the development met, “All relevant planning policies and there is no conflict with the Omagh area plan.”

He also acknowledged that a small section of the footpath is to be below the required standards but added that this is “permitted.”

Mr Lawlor stated that the application was “not in conflict with any policies regarding open space.”

However secretary of St Mary’s Residents’ Group, Kieran Downey who has lived on the road for 33 years, said the footpath needed to be “fully constructed” before the work commenced.

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He claimed the proposed footpath “compromised the safety” of pedestrians adding that a person would have to step off the pavement onto the road in order to pass someone with a pram. He also stated that local home-owners and landowners on the road “own” the property to the middle of the carriageway and had “not given permission for any further encroachment into their land.”

Stating that there were 128 objectors to the planning development, Mr Downey said they were “outraged” and warned the planning meeting, “St Mary’s Road residents will hold everyone of you every minute of the day responsible for our safety during this construction.”

On behalf of the developers, architect Peter Dolan said the plan is for a 5.5 metre road with a footpath over 500 metres in length, “serving a residential area which previously had no footpath and at no cost to the public purse.”

He added, “Given the number of existing dwellings on this road, it is our opinion that the footpath would be a welcome addition and benefit to the health and safety of pedestrians in this area.

“Department for Infrastructure (DfI) have been consulted extensively on the plans and are content with the road and footpath widths, alignment and the technical dimensions of the junction.”

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