A major Newry housing development has been approved 10 years after its application following a long legal wrangle over a road upgrade.
An original planning approval had requested the developer MJM Group Ltd upgrade relevant parts of the main access Watson’s Road before construction of 200 houses began.
In a variation of conditions, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has now consented for MJM to construct and occupy the first three phases from five of the development, before the road traffic works are completed.
A council planning committee heard an objection had been made by a “neighbouring developer” claiming MJM did not control all the roads required for the traffic upgrade.
However, the objector was not in attendance to speak at the meeting on Wednesday morning (April 5).
A Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) officer recommended approval for the variation of plans.
He said: “The proposed stop up and abandonment of the road ties in with the planning phases.
“It does not compromise the development of housing or impact road safety or other matters.
“There was an objection that a pre-application community consultation had not taken place.
“The council is of the view that the pre-application community consultation is not required.
“The council is content that this application has been brought to the attention of the community through the statutory consultation procedure and that the community has had an opportunity to comment on the application.”
The Watson’s Road area in question provides access into Newry from a slip road on the A1 bypass with added traffic from a nearby primary school and GAA club grounds.
A DFI report has stated that it is “content with the proposal and raised no issues of concern”.
TSA Planning agent for the developer, Tom Stokes added: “The variation of the legislative process is entirely normal.
“The application has been withdrawn on several occasions due to dealing with the objector’s issues.
“DfI is now content for the stop up in line with the phasing of the development.
“To give the committee comfort, I can say that the legislative process has been adhered to by the developer.
“The application has already had approval for road upgrades.
“There has been a significant amount of material from the objector that has been met.
“This development will bring significant benefit and improvements to road safety and housing for the city.”
The application was unanimously approved by councillors on the planning committee.