Louth County Council have told members of the Ardee Municipal District committee that they would be disappointed were there not to be a walkway linking the new Castle Guard estate with Old Dawson’s Demesne.
That’s despite councillors present at Thursday evening’s July meeting airing their staunch opposition to plans that would include access between the 105-year-old cul-de-sac and the new social housing development.
As reported on ThisIsArdee.ie earlier in the week, residents met with councillors and local TDs and Senators on Monday evening to discuss their ongoing attempts to stop the building of a link between the new estate and Old Dawson’s Demesne.
The lane that links Old Dawson’s Demesne to Campbell’s Park and new Dawsons 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.
Locals on Old Dawson’s say encouraging increased pedestrian capacity on the lane will put residents and those walking on the lane at risk. It is expected that the pedestrian usage on the lane will increase by 300% if the current plans go ahead.
On Thursday evening, Dolores Minogue raised the possibility of all the Ardee Municipal council putting in writing their opposition to the access route.
“It’s a very sub-standard road. On health and safety alone, I would be against,” she said. “The plans definitely do not suit this lane. It’s a lane, not a road.”
Castle Guard developers have told locals that they were happy to try and assist residents in blocking off access to the century-old estate but they are bound by planning conditions to open the walkway upon completion of the project.
Also speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Louth County Council Senior Executive Officer Aoife Lawlor told the councillors the access route between the estates is necessary. “I’d be very disappointed if the walkway didn’t go ahead, “she said. “It’s promoting sustainable communities. People can walk into town, rather than driving. As a housing agency, we would be be promoting the walkway.”
Jim Tenanty argued that the local authority needs to look at the issue from both sides. “You have to see the residents point of view,” he argued.
It was decided at Monday’s meeting – attended by councillors Minogue, Tenanty, Pearse McGeough and Tom Cunningham – that locals would invite Louth County Council officials to Old Dawson’s to walk the lane and discuss their concerns further with the developers, six Ardee Municipal District councillors and two members of the residents committee fighting the access route.
Tonight, Cunningham was unequivocal that allowing the pedestrian route between Castle Guard and Old Dawson’s was the wrong decision. “You can’t advocate pedestrians walking on a road where there isn’t even a footpath. There’ll be anti-social behaviour,” he said.
“This wall needs to be closed and left closed. There’s no footpath. It’s an old laneway. Ardee is supposedly age friendly, this wouldn’t help.”
His Sinn Fein colleague Pearse McGeough echoed those sentiments and repeated his earlier suggestion that a masterplan be put in place for the area.
“We as a council need to take this seriously. There is an alternative route. It is available. You won’t have to travel through Old Dawson’s Demesne. It provides access, this alternative. It should be upgraded to facilitate this. There should be a masterplan for that whole area. The residents of Old Dawson’s are an established community within the Ardee confines.
“Ardee is an Age Friendly town. It terms of good planning, everyone should be satisfied. I do feel with the alternative that is there,” he concluded.
During Monday’s hour long meeting, the developers in charge of the build said that the council will “categorically” deny any attempt to close the access way within a competition application. There appeared no room for maneuver on Thursday.
When asked by Tenanty whether the loca authority had any say on the matter given the entire development is to be made up of social housing, Lawlor replied; “It had planning permission as a private development. We did not influence the design or access. We had to take it as it was. It has a huge benefit to the housing list.
“There’s nine houses with adapted bathrooms for people with disabilities, there’s public spaces. There’s a lot that is positive for Ardee. We support it. The residents would be better off talking to the planners.”
While Minogue reiterated that residents in the century old cul-de-sac have no issue with the actual houses being built – but instead the increase in pedestrian activity in an unsuitable area – Colm Markey suggested the councillors seek to have sit down meeting with the planners.”