Minister knocks back Crossgar social homes plan

Minister knocks back Crossgar social homes plan

16 November 2011 - by DAVID TELFORD


A ROW is brewing over a Planning Service recommendation to refuse permission for 10 new social homes in Crossgar.

The recommendation to refuse permission for the Downpatrick Road scheme will be tabled at Down Council’s next monthly meeting on November 28.

The news has angered a number of local politicians including Strangford MP Jim Shannon and Rowallane councillor Billy Walker. They are seeking a meeting with Stormont Minister Alex Attwood, the man responsible for the Planning Service.

They are outraged that the scheme by the Trinity Housing Association which was approved at one stage was subsequently recommended for refusal.

The matter was referred to Mr. Attwood earlier in the year and after considering the application for a number of months he has now indicated to planners that he agrees with the refusal recommendation.

Councillor Walker said he’s furious and wants consideration of the planners’ recommendation at the end of the month by Down councillors deferred until talks with Mr. Attwood take place.

“This particular application for much-needed social homes in Crossgar has become a long running saga,” he declared.

“The application was refused in October 2009 before being approved the following February. This decision was then overturned in January of this year and now that recommendation is being backed by Mr. Attwood.”

Councillor Walker said he is concerned that people on the waiting list for social homes are being denied the opportunity of moving into purpose-built accommodation.

He said when Mr. Attwood was in charge at the Department for Social Development he highlighted the need for social housing provision in Crossgar.

“A number of politicians have backed this scheme in the past and I hope they will be as outraged by this decision as I am. I feel sorry for the Trinity Housing Association which is committed to building these new homes in Crossgar.

“There is a pressing need for social homes in Crossgar and it’s something all politicians are agreed on. South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has also backed the proposed Downpatrick Road development and I hope she is as concerned as I am about the recommendation to refuse planning permission.”

Councillor Walker said the refusal recommendation must be overturned.