No To More Homes

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

THE development of housing in the Mournes has led to an erosion of the area's character, council has found.

In an effort to curb this problem, council has suggested that the restoration of derelict stone buildings should be prioritised over the construction of new homes.

The findings were made as part of the Local Development Plan (LDP) which looks at how the area will progress in the future.

The Kingdom of Mourne is mentioned as an area of over development detracting from the rural 'stone wall landscape' running from the Bloody Bridge outside Annalong to Spelga and Killowen.

As part of the development plan, the council has been looking at the principles for accommodating new development over the next few years, however, notes this particular area has "reached its capacity" for new housing.

“Continued scattered housing and bungalow development throughout the area is leading to the erosion of its rural character," a council report read.

“The area has reached its capacity for such development and the restoration of any derelict stone buildings should be a priority over the construction of new buildings."

However Mournes Councillor Brian Quinn thinks plans about future building in the Mournes need to adopt a two-pronged approach bearing in mind both the need to preserve the natural environment while encouraging community. Councillor Quinn believes Mourne's reputation as a pleasant place to live has contributed to it "reaching its capacity".

“I think that in some areas the rural character has been eroded slightly but Mourne is a very desirable place to live.

“Part of that could be because young people are now coming back to Mourne to set up their homes and have their families.

“I think we will have to look at it very carefully to try and accommodate the indigenous people who are wanting to build and remain in Mourne."

SDLP Councillor Quinn says the expansion of businesses in the Mournes area will also have to be taken into consideration when future housing development is planned.

“If we have new businesses come and set up in Mourne, which we are hoping to have, or the likes of B/E Aerospace expanding, then we have to take that into account. If there are more jobs in the area then we will need housing for those people," said Councillor Quinn.

He added that Mourne is "a prime tourist destination and a lot of people want property in Mourne as a holiday home".

“We will have to look at it sympathetically, but also carefully," said Councillor Quinn.

The council plan also advises against any large scale or vertical development including telegraph poles and telecommunication masts in this area describing them as "particularly disruptive, as would the use of any building material other than stone" as the landscape is "highly sensitive to physical and visual disruption".

Council also found that in terms of future development in the Mourne Mountain area "the restoration of traditional, small stone cottages and barns is preferable to the construction of new buildings".

Council notes in this area "the use of local stone is essential" and large scale barns would be inappropriate in this upland landscape.

An existing ribbon development apparently "already detracts from the landscape area on the Kilkeel coast".

The area is described as "known for its peaceful landscape of calm lapping water, salty air and calling sea birds along muddy estuary sides".

If there is to be more development in this area, it "should be clustered in small coherent groups of buildings to reduce further intrusion and should be associated with tree planting".



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