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Councillors told 23 houses of multiple occupancy nearby as latest Portadown plans considered

Councillors will visit the Tandragee Road location as concerns - including traffic and car parking - remain

Portadown HMO
Portadown councillors are unhappy that planning permission has been recommended by the ABC Planning Department to turn this six-bedroom dwelling at Tandragee Road, Portadown, into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO). Credit: Google

Concerns remain regarding a planning application for a house of multiple occupancy at Tandragee Road, Portadown, given the number of HMOs already in the area and the traffic and car parking situation.

The planning application, at number 27, was lodged in April 2021 by Collins and Collins Architectural Agents, Newry, on behalf of Geoffrey Dougan, who lives at that Portadown address.

A number of letters of objection from neighbouring residents are listed on the ABC planning portal.

The matter was debated at ABC Council’s planning committee.

Principal planning officer, Roisin Hamill, commented: “This application seeks full planning permission for a change of use from a dwelling to a six-bedroom house of multiple occupancy at 27 Tandragee Road, Portadown.

“Members will recall this application was previously presented to members at the Planning & Regulatory Services meeting in January, with a recommendation to approve.

“At that meeting, it was agreed that the application be deferred for further information regarding the number of HMOs in the Tandragee Road/Thomas Street area of Portadown, and an assessment of the impact of the proposal on the character of the area.

“There are 23 existing and approved HMOs in the Thomas Street area. In assessing the impact of the proposal on the character of the area, officers have considered the Tandragee Road area between Annagh Bridge and Annaghdale Place.

“This area is predominantly residential, with a small number of commercial properties.

“There’s an existing HMO at No 23 Tandragee Road, which was the subject of an enforcement investigation, however this investigation has now closed as the breach is immune from enforcement action.

“No 82 Tandragee Road is subject of a live planning application for change of use to a HMO, as set out in the report.

“There are no external alterations proposed to the building, having regard to the fact the site is located within a primarily residential area.

“There are no external changes proposed and the proposal will retain the building in a residential use.

“Officers remain satisfied there will be no unacceptable impact on the character or visual appearance of the area, and officers are recommending that the application be approved.

“There was a parking analysis submitted with the application, which identified that there was ample parking for the proposal in the area.

“The analysis identified that there were 89 on-street car-parking spaces, and when the surveys were carried out, 50% of them were available for parking in the area.”

Councillor Kyle Moutray expressed concerns regarding the number of HMOs in the vicinity.

And he pointed out that the parking analysis was of some vintage, stating: “Whenever this specific application was brought to the committee previously, I expressed my concerns about both parking and congestion on the Tandragee Road, and the impact on the character of the area.

“In Thomas Street, which we’re referencing quite a number of times here, there are 23 HMOs. It is technically a different area, albeit very close.

“In recent years there have been further HMOs within Thomas Street, and I note that the parking analysis makes reference to parking on Thomas Street.

“That parking analysis took place in September 2021, three and a half years ago, nearly four years ago.

“Is it worth considering how many more HMOs there have been, or how much the parking has changed in that time?”

The senior council officer acknowledged that the parking analysis had lost some of its relevance, but she insisted that the council had surveyed the area in more recent times.

“It is a fair point, that analysis was carried out in 2021,” she stated. “I’m aware of at least two other HMOs that have been approved in Thomas Street in that area, however I would point out that officers have visited the site on a couple of occasions, and have identified that there is parking available on the occasions that we visited the site.

“I would also say that this is a five-bedroom property. There is a requirement for five parking spaces.

“They’re proposing one additional bedroom, so in terms of parking standards that’s only an additional 0.25 parking space that would be required, so that, coupled with the surveys that were carried out and our own observations, would lead us to to the conclusion that parking is sufficient in the area to address the proposal.”

Councillor Kyle Moutray suggested that a new parking survey might be of use: “Is there any specific protocol regarding timeframe for when a parking survey can can be carried out, and is there any scope for that to reoccur, given changes in the area?”

The officer replied: “I’m not aware that there is a timeframe for when surveys become out of date, but our observations would lead us to the conclusion that there is parking available.”

SF Councillor Paul Duffy remarked that the traffic situation was a daily hazard at that location and added: “Could I ask Roads Service, how many accidents have happened in that area over this last while?

“I know there’s a Housing Executive just down off on a hill and they are continuously complaining about sightlines coming out there in the mornings and in the evenings.

“I know at least three of the workers have had bad accidents trying to access out under the Tandragee Road, because of cars parked on up, because of bad sightlines, and I think this would actually only make it worse.”

A DfI Roads Service representative told Cllr Duffy: “I’m not aware of there being any specific accident history along that piece of road. The honest answer is, I don’t know, that’s something we can find out.

“But your point about the visibility splays at the junctions, yes there may well be an enforcement issue there.

“Of course, you’re not allowed under the Highway Code to park within 15 metres of any public road junction, and if those are being encroached upon, that’s something that should be reported to either the traffic enforcement or PSNI.

“I believe there aren’t any yellow lines along that stretch of road, and therefore it probably is something that should be reported to the PSNI.

“I don’t think the traffic enforcement officers can control it unless it’s marked with the yellow lines.”

The Sinn Féin representative pointed out that his own request for a survey had not been acted upon, adding: “I have asked for it to be surveyed, and it was nothing to do with the HMO or anything like that, but in the past I have asked can anything be done there. I’m still waiting for answers on that query.”

Cllr Kyle Moutray referred to the busy traffic situation in that part of the town, particularly at night: “I’ve made my concerns known before, as someone who would quite regularly frequent the area.

“I know at the lower side of the Tandragee Road there are a number of developments, so any vehicles moving from the town centre to those developments, it’s a very busy route, and at night, particularly when cars take up both sides of the road, this turns into single-lane traffic, which is a concern that I would have [regarding] road safety.

“I have heard, even within recent weeks, that there have been minor accidents on this road, so I think even if members could be furnished with an accident report, or something in that vein, it would be very useful.

“Again, from looking closely at the parking survey, I note that there was only 15% availability on the Tandragee route.

“A lot of scope for those – I think it was 89 spaces – was made up in Annagh Business Centre, places that are further away from it, so I would just have concerns about that.

“I take on board that officers have visited the site since that survey took place about four years ago, however I think it would be a useful exercise for members to actually go and see it for ourselves, to make a judgment on the congestion and the parking availability there, so that would be my proposal.”

As part of his proposal, Cllr Moutray also requested an accident report from DfI, which was seconded by Cllr Alan Mulholland.

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