A ‘dispute’ has erupted between the owner of a car repair workshop in Derry and a resident living nearby over claims that the business is disrupting her sleep.

The issue came before a recent meeting of Derry City and Strabane District after an application was lodged for a new shed at an existing car repair workshop and two flues om the roof above an oven for paint spray for car parts.

The application was lodged by Mr Satnam Singh Gill for his business at number 51B, Beragh Hill Road in Derry.

A planning officer told the meeting that nine letters of objection had been lodged against the plans, from addresses in Beragh Hill Road, Ballyarnett Village and the Craft Village in the city centre.

He said that a number of issues were raised by the objectors, including concerns over the impact on health from air pollution and fumes from spraying, noise pollution from the business operating outside of working hours and the loss of local wildlife.

The meeting was told that the council’s Environmental Health Department (EHD) had been consulted about these issues, who reported that the applicant has undertaken works to provide noise insulation and that this has ‘resulted in a significant reduction in noise emissions from the existing spray booth’.

The officer added that ‘there will be no adverse impact in terms of noise and odour other than that which currently exists’ in association with the business.

He continued it had also been concluded that there will be no ‘additional noise nuisance other than what currently exists’, no ground pollution and no impact on wildlife, and therefore planners would be recommending that Mr Singh’s application is approved.

One of the objectors, Christine McMonagle, was then given the opportunity to address the committee.

She told the meeting that the noise from the business had woken her from bed from 11pm through to 4am on a number of occasions, and eight of people opposing the application suffered from asthma.

Ms McMonagle continued that she had installed a ‘noise monitor’ at her home and that she was ‘entitled to enjoy’ living at the house she had first moved into 30 years ago.

“I can’t even open my windows,” she added, before adding that she is subject to ‘constant noise from 8am to 9m at night’.

The meeting then heard from Mr Singh, who said that he has running a garage business at various sites in Derry for the past 38 years.

He added that measures had been taken to reduce the noise levels, and that the noise which woke Ms McMonagle at 4am ‘had nothing to do with his business’ as it was a hired minibus returning from a concert.

The DUP’s Hilary McClintock asked Mr Singh if he lived near his business, and he replied that he ‘lived closer’ to the premises than Ms McMonagle and he could ‘hear nothing’.

The SDLP’s Tina Gardiner asked Mr Singh if his business closed at 6pm, to which he replied ‘Yes’, before asking the planning officer if he was satisfied that that there was no unacceptable levels of noise and air pollution.

The officer replied that a full report on acoustics and emission was undertaken and these were found to ‘satisfactory’ by Environmental Health officers.

Her party colleague, John Boyle said that he ‘understood the frustrations’ of people who opposed planning applications and was ‘not entirely unsympathetic’ to them.

However, Cllr Boyle said that he was ‘satisfied that officers had examined all the objections’ and the applicant had also made arrangements to address these.

He added that while he ‘appreciated people have these frustrations’, it was ‘incumbent’ that members of the planning committee to make decision for planning reasons.

Cllr Boyle then added that it was not for the committee to get involved in what he described as ‘neighbour disputes’ which should be address through ‘other mechanisms.
The application was then approved.

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