By Ciaran O’Neill

Two new social housing developments have been given the go-ahead in Eglinton – despite opposition from planning officials.

Since the Review of Public Administration (RPA) in Northern Ireland several years ago, the power over whether or not to grant planning permission rests with councillors within the 11 new councils created as part of RPA.

Each council has a planning department which makes recommendations to councillors on planning applications based on planning policy.

However, the final decision on the planning application rests with local councillors.

In the case of the two new social housing developments in Eglinton, local planning officials had recommended that both applications be refused.

One of the proposed developments, which would incorporate 14 properties, is located on Coolafinney Road close to Broadbridge Primary School.

The other development is proposed for land at Ballygudden Road and would also incorporate 14 properties.

The plans for both developments were submitted by Apex Housing Association.

Planning officials said the two developments were outside the development limits of Eglinton village.

As a result, the officials said that the developments were ‘fundamentally acceptable’ in a countryside area.

At a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s planning committee last month, councillors voted not to accept the refusal proposal from planning officials on both applications, and gave the go-ahead for the developments.

The two applications were discussed again at a further meeting of the committee in the Guildhall on Monday of this week.

A planning official told the meeting that their opinion had not changed and that their recommendation remained to refuse planning permission for the two developments.

The official said the two housing developments would set an ‘undesirable precedent’ in the area.

However, councillors at the meeting said they stood by the decision taken at last month’s meeting.

Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan said their decision was based on the need for social housing in the Eglinton area.

Both applications were put separately to votes and councillors voted to grant planning permission in relation to both.

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