Anger as planners refuse homes in the Glens

COUNCILLORS have expressed anger that planners gave a ‘refusal’ opinion for a site for new houses in the Cushendall area.

The Rural Housing Association wanted to develop a site 20 metres north of 15 Cairns Road, but planners outlined seven refusal reasons.

They included:

* There are no over-riding reasons why this development is essential in this rural location and could not be included within a settlement.

* The proposal would result in a suburban-style build-up of development.

* It would create ribbon development along Cairns Road and therefore adversely affect the visual amenity of the countryside.

* It would fail to provide a quality residential environment.

* It would create a detrimental change to the rural character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

* No demonstrable need has been identified by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive which cannot readily be met within an existing settlement in the locality.

* It would prejudice the safety and convenience of road users since the sub-standard road geometry and accesses on Cairns Road renders it unsuitable for this level of development.

Cllr Joan Baird said Moyle Council should contact the Department of Social Development about the situation as she said in the ‘credit crunch’ people will lose their homes and social housing is important.

She added: “We all know there are waiting lists for social housing. It is very disappointing to see that social housing is being turned down here.”

Cllr Margaret Anne McKillop said the scheme involved 12 houses.

Cllr Randal McDonnell said there is need for new social housing in the Glens.

Independent councillor Colum Thompson said the list of people wanting housing in the Glens is “extensive” and said people are “banging their heads” to get housing.

After the meeting, Cllr Thompson issued the following statement to the Times: “I am totally disgusted by the Planning Service’s decision to refuse planning permission for social housing at a site north of Cairns Road in Cushendall.

“The middle Glens area is in desperate need of social housing, a fact recognized by The Housing Executive and The Department of Social Development and here we have planners going against their advice.

“The planners have yet again stuck rigidly to their criteria, however their criteria was only ever intended as a guide. It is all very well for planners to make their decisions at meetings in offices far away from the communities which their decisions will actually affect.

“It is families and young people who will be forced to move away from the area in search of affordable housing and this in turn will have a knock on effect on local schools, clubs, churches and businesses.

“It is high time planners took a more sympathetic view to social housing applications in The Glens. There are several social housing providers who are willing to build houses in The Glens if they could just be granted permission to build. This approach from planners cannot be allowed to continue because they are stifling our towns and villages.”