Plan to build 243 new homes in Culmore faces opposition

A group opposed to the building of new homes in Londonderry claims more than 200 people have objected to the plans.

Belfast-based Langham Limited also wants to build shops and new roads on the large site off the Culmore Road.

The size of the development had already been reduced, but some people living nearby still have reservations.

Langham confirmed that a decision on a new application to the Planning Service was pending.

The development plan was originally drawn up in 2006.

The company initially applied to build 283 homes made up of 142 townhouses, 100 semi-detached houses, 5 detached houses, 36 apartments and 8 shops.

Langham Ltd appealed to the Planning Appeal Commission (PAC) after failing to get a decision from the local planning office.

During that inquiry, SDLP councillor and current Mayor of Derry Colm Eastwood supported residents who gave evidence opposing the plan.

No decision was taken by the PAC because the developer withdrew his appeal and submitted a new application for 40 fewer dwellings and more community facilities.

The revised plan is for 243 homes including 14 detached, 154 semi-detached, 54 townhouses and 21 apartments and six commercial units. That plan was lodged in July.

The developer also agreed to give the Roads Service £1m towards the upgrade of the Culmore Road roundabout.

Tiny city

Angela Dobbins, whose home in Beaver Park backs on to the 28 acre greenfield site, formed a residents' group to oppose the plans.

She said the changes made by the developer are not enough and the development would ''tear the heart out of the community''.

Objecting to the density of dwellings planned for the site Mrs Dobbins said the development would "make it look like a tiny city in amongst the village. It'll ruin the skyline and the village will be destroyed".

The residents' group distributed over 300 letters asking people to oppose the plans and claims 230 people have written to the Planning Service to object.

Not everyone in the area is opposed to the development.

Mary Casey is chair of the Culmore Area Forum which originally opposed the plans.

Citing the planned community resource facility and a fully-equipped play park, she said the changes Langham intended to introduce would benefit the area.

Mayor Eastwood said that although the people of the area were up in arms about the plans they were not opposed to development per se but rather were in favour of "sensible development".

Referring to the offers made by the developers he said: "I think this is about buying off the community and I don't see the community accepting it."