Residents in Old Dawsons Demesne will have to wait until late February to learn if ther bid to stop pedestrian access between their century old cul-de-sac and the new Castle Guard social housing development has been successful.
Locals know their appeal lodged with An Bord Pleanala last month as essentially a last chance saloon as they look to halt plans to open up a pedestrian route between the two estates, which Louth County Council say will provide connectivity between the new estate and the town centre. The planning board’s decision is due on February 20th, 2018.
Earlier in the autumn, Louth County granted conditional planning permission for the completion of the development at Castle Guard, including an additional 70 homes to the 29 already built. That news came as a blow to residents of Old Dawsons who have fought and lobbied extensively for the local authority to reverse the decision to allow a public access walkway linking the new estate with the 105-year-old old cul-de-sac.
However, residents acquired the services of an independent engineer who prepared a third party appeal against the planning decision on their behalf – and after a visit to the site, a 10 page appeal was put together outlining how the proposed plans would have a “a profound and detrimental impact” upon residents of Old Dawsons Demesne.
In the report, the engineer describes the lane as ‘a narrow, sub-standard single surface road that is wholly inadequate to safely accommodate a substantial increase in new pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular traffic.’
Whilst the link between the two areas would not accommodate vehicles, locals in Old Dawsons say a potential 300% increase in pedestrian and cyclist traffic puts everyone who uses the lane at risk. There is no footpath along either side of the Old Dawsons Demesne lane. The engineer notes that ‘vehicles, pedestrians, prams and cycles come into close and constant contact and potential conflict.’
‘In it’s present form and configuration, Old Dawsons Demesne does not properly or safely serve the existing residents” the report reads. It goes on to say the council’s assessment of the area was “limited and inadequate resulting in a questionable decision.’
‘Old Dawsons Demesne may indeed be the shortest route between the appeal site and the town centre but it is neither the safest not most appropriate route available to the future residents of the appeal site and future development lands.’
‘The grant of planning permission makes no provision for even the slightest of improvement to the laneway to accommodate the substantial increase in pedestrian/cyclist traffic the County Council seeks to attract in the name of better integration and connectivity,’ the appeal continues. ‘Instead able bodies and those with mobility improvements are expected to traverse a dangerous and inferior laneway at substantial risk to their safety.’
Locals also that An Bord Pleanala should consider alternative routes available to the residents of the new Castle Guard estate – such as the Railway Walk line and Hale Street, both accessible by existing footpaths at the main entrance to the development.
The lane that links Old Dawsons 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 footpaths on the lane nor is there street lighting. Locals on Old Dawsons 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.
A number of submissions and objections – all from residents on or near to Old Dawsons (and Dawsons Demesne/Campbells Park Residents Association) – were made against the initial application for completion permission. Louth County Council are on the record saying that the pedestrian access promotes “sustainable communities”.