Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee has approved an application that will see 66 new homes built in north Lurgan.
Lodged by agent Gravis Planning, on behalf of applicant D Gilmore Developments Ltd, the application seeks permission to build a residential development of 66 two storey units at lands 100m east of 25 and 27 Silverwood Road and appeared before the committee at its meeting on Wednesday, July 5.
Members of the committee were told the application was before them as the site exceeds two hectares and as a development of 50 or more units it is considered a major application.
The 66 units will be made up of 24 detached and 42 semi-detached homes and the application also seeks permission to create internal roads, associated parking, landscaping, public open space, drainage and ancillary works.
In total, 19 four bedroom detached dwellings with sunrooms, five three bed dwellings with sun rooms and 42 three bed semi-detached dwellings will be built on the site. Each of the 66 properties will have a single domestic garage and 6,514 trees will be planted at the site in addition to 4,634 shrubs.
A 3.5 metre wide combined footpath and cycleway will run through the development and allow for future cycle access to the zoned housing land beyond the extent of the current site.
There will be 136 in curtilage parking spaces and 42 on street visitor and communal parking spaces will be provided.
A right hand turning lane on Silverwood Road into the development will also be constructed by the applicant.
A report on the application, compiled by Council’s planning officers, recommends the application is approved as “officers are of the opinion the proposed development complies with the Craigavon area plan 2010, the SPPS and all other relevant planning policies”.
It is also noted that no third party representations were received in relation to this proposal and no statutory consultees had any objections.
It also notes the development site is located on phase 1 zoned housing land with the proposed access provided through land zoned for light industry and warehousing.
Commenting on the application, Councillor Peter Lavery asked about the inclusion of social housing now or in the future.
A planning officer confirmed that none of the 66 homes proposed are being built as social housing.
“In this instance no social housing is proposed. Ultimately when the planning application was submitted in 2019 the social housing need was identified as 80 units in north Lurgan,” explained a planning officer.
“During this period, 114 social housing have been completed or programmed for works, this is in excess of the 80 units required so we did conclude that there was no requirement for social housing on that basis.
“In addition to that, there are challenges in trying to develop this large site and having to go through industrial land and there is extra costs on the developer for the 66 houses proposed.
“They have had to do a transport assessment for the entire zoning and will have to provide a right hand turning lane to the development. We have considered the social element but we have concluded in this instance there is no requirement to provide it on that basis.”
Cllr Lavery told the chamber that just last year the Housing Executive had identified need for “over 200” social houses in north Lurgan and asked if the developer had any plans for future phases to include social housing.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Gravis Planning’s Adam Larkin told the committee there are currently no proposals to develop other phases on this land.
“The land is not in the applicant’s control so he cannot speculate what may or may not come forward in terms of social housing in the remainder of the zoning,” he said.
Council’s head of planning Damian Mulligan said Cllr Lavery made a “very good point” and advised that officers will be engaging with developers should proposals for further development in this area come forward.
“The number of affordable social units now identified by the Housing Executive in north Lurgan is around 248,” said Mr Mulligan.
“Notwithstanding what was said by the agent, if other applications for development on that land do come forward it certainly does remain on the table for officers to engage with those developers about the possibility of delivering on the social housing units that are required in the north Lurgan area.
“That is an issue that will remain on the officers’ radar.”
With these assurances Cllr Lavery said he would not expect much “divisive debate” about this application but stressed social housing needs to be a key consideration for planners going forward.
“I think this is a good application that will see continued residential growth in Lurgan,” he said.
“The one thing is that social housing need, the units required now are three times what they were in 2019 and I think that shows the accelerated growth of need for social housing need in north Lurgan.
“That needs to have greater emphasis in the minds of planners, we need to provide social housing for an inclusive society but that is maybe one for another day and I would be content with the recommendation to approve this application.
“It is also good to see the mention of cycle ways and active travel through this development, it seems to be a well thought out application in terms of the wider scope of it as well.”
Councillor Paul Duffy said he would be happy to second Cllr Lavery’s proposal to approve the application in line with planning officers’ recommendation and the chamber voiced its approval for the proposal.