Aerial image showing new housing development site and cricket ground to the north
Local councillors have approved an application for social housing in the Waterside despite concerns about the potential risk posed by cricket balls landing in the development.
It comes after a recent Derry News report highlighted possible dangers raised by council officials in a supplementary planning document based on the site’s close proximity to Glendermott Cricket Club.
Radius Housing Association submitted an application in May 2019 to construct forty-nine residential units with associated landscape and access works on the site of the former Ebrington Primary School.
Yesterday, it came before Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee for consideration.
The planned housing development is situated in a backland site between the Limavady Road and Rossdowney Road on lands south of Glendermott Cricket Club.
At the meeting, a council officer said the Environmental Health Department (EHD) has considered the representations with regards to proximity and risk to occupants of the new development to the existing Glendermott Cricket ground.
She said it was Glendermott Cricket Club itself which raised the concerns about the risk to road users and pedestrians.
Various assessments were carried out to determine the potential risk of cricket balls from Glendermott Cricket Club which borders the northern boundary of the application site and the potential risk to users of the site.
Environmental Health in their response dated September 5, 2019, said that the initial risk assessment did not consider velocity of ball strike and distances that can be achieved from professional cricketers and required consideration of this factor as well as occasional longer shots struck by amateur players.
Each team in the league is permitted the use of one professional overseas player and up to ten competitive games at first class cricket level could also be played during the season.
Further supporting information was then received in November 2019. It is stated within the Labosport Technical Report submitted that the scientific analysis concluded that the furthest a well hit cricket ball typically travels is 77.88m.
The nearest proposed dwelling is 81.65m from the cricket square, and therefore the risk of ball strike is “negligible”. On this basis the agent considered the concerns raised by EHD unfounded.
It is important to note however that at a distance of 77.88m ball strike distances are within the development site boundary, on the new public road providing access to dwellings.
A previous Environment Health report stated that “such cricket balls will not stop dead but will have sufficient momentum to travel a further distance with the potential to strike adjacent property, vehicles and pedestrians.”
The applicant acknowledged that a well hit ball could drop 7-8m within the development site boundary and there could be a “small residual risk of injury” associated with vehicular and pedestrian users on the roadway.
The council official recommended that planning permission be granted but with the condition attached that a fence or ball net be erected on the boundary of the application site with details submitted to the council.
The meeting heard that there is an agreement in writing between the cricket club and Radius Housing in which the housing association states it will make a “contribution” towards the net.
Speaking at the meeting, Anita Conway of Radius Housing said there is “acute housing need” in the Waterside area and 152 people living in these homes would “alleviate” some housing stress. They will also cater for people with mobility issues and complex needs and inject £6m into the region.
She said that if approved workers could be on site in the next six weeks.
Architect at GM Design, Tim Robinson, said risk assessments associated with cricket grounds are commonplace in England and Wales. He believes the risk presented is “small” as housing lies outside the range of professionals, as well as cricket being a seasonal game and weather dependent.
DUP Alderman Hilary McClintock said there were no arguments from her as the Waterside area needs housing. She did however query the matter of insurance claims if there were any incidents with cricket balls.
Ms Conway said it would be a matter for the cricket club but as a “good neighbour” Radius was offering to contribute to the net although she believes there is “next to no risk at all”.
Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue commended the housing association for making a contribution.
Meanwhile, SDLP Councillor John Boyle said it posed no more risk than being next to a golf course and Derry has a few of those. “I don’t think Eoin Morgan and the England cricket team are going to be playing or that the Ashes will be hosted at Glendermott.
“Oakgrove Primary School is closer to the cricket ground and they don’t need helmets for the kids.”
It was agreed that of the three options on the table, councillors were supportive of the need for an application to be made for a “ball net” which “gives security from a planning perspective”.
The application was unanimously approved.
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