Fianna Fail TD Declan Breathnach visited Old Dawson’s Demesne in Ardee on Friday morning for a Good Friday summit – as residents continued their efforts to ensure an access lane to the new Castle Guard housing development is not opened up to the narrow residential cul-de-sac.
Having met with Fine Gael deputy Fergus O’Dowd and Ardee Municipal councillors Dolores Minogue, Pearse McGeough and Tom Cunningham in the last week, Breathnach, who was joined by local Independent councillor Jim Tenanty, told the residents that party politics should not get in the away of finding a solution to the problem.
As it stands, pedestrian access will link the new 107 home Castle Guard development to Old Dawson’s but locals fear increased activity on the lane will be a danger to motorists and pedestrians alike.
The lane that links Old Dawson’s Demesne to Campbell’s Park and new Dawson’s is so narrow in parts that only one car can pass at any one time. There are no foothpaths on the lane nor is there street lighting. The access point will allow pedestrian’s from the new estate to and from the town centre – but locals on Old Dawson’s say encouraging increased pedestrian capacity on the lane will put residents and those walking on the lane at risk.
Breathnach, a former county councillor who was elected to the Dail last year told the assembled residents that he agreed with their concerns. “It wasn’t looked at the way it needs to be looked at,” he said, referring to how the lane is not designed for a big increase in pedestrian traffic.
Residents of the lane say they were not made aware of changes to the planning application in 2016. They expected to see two gardens backing onto the end of their cul-de-sac but more recent plans show a pathway which links the two residential areas. “How can we object to something that was never shown to us?” one boundary resident argued.
The TD advised that planning was a legal process, saying that the developer currently has legal permission to implement the plans as they are. “The county development plan is gospel,” Breathnach said, adding, “Integration was viewed as key but nobody looked at the problems.” He urged affected residents to sit down with the developer and get to the bottom of outstanding issues.
Previous plans to build a creche in the development has been shelved, meaning the developers appear to have moved the two houses that backed onto the Old Dawson’s gate in previous plans to fill that space. Now, there’s a plan to include through access.
Residents say the developer in charge of the Castle Guard development is open to building a wall at the gate, but Louth County Council say that is impossible citing that the developer is not permitted to deviate from the An Bord Pleanala conditions associated with the original plan.
Locals are angered by the council’s stance on the matter. Breathnach feels they could have done more. “They should have put an imposition on the developer. If they were living here, they wouldn’t have granted it.”