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Northern Ireland developer building homes without planning permission

By John Mulgrew

An under-construction housing development in Northern Ireland is being built without planning permission, it has emerged.

Four homes are close to completion at the project in Dromore, called Mossvale Meadows.

The man behind the scheme, David Gilmore, told the Belfast Telegraph he was not concerned and insisted the area was "zoned for housing".

The site previously had permission for homes, but that has since lapsed.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council contacted the developer in November, outlining that it was investigating an enforcement case in relation to the controversial housing scheme.

It said in a letter: "The current works on site are unlawful and are being carried out without the benefit of planning permission".

An application has since been submitted to the council. It is believed to be currently under consideration.

A spokeswoman for the council said "no decision had been made regarding the applications for the scheme".

"As such, the current development does not benefit from planning permission," she added.

Jake Mellor, property manager with the Parr Group, raised serious concerns about the project.

"I think to ensure a fair planning process for all developers, it is essential that this is highlighted to the general public in this format.

"We are finding it hard to believe that a developer within the local area is able to build without planning permission. I think that there needs to be transparency within the planning department, and all cases should be treated the same and within a set time period."

Despite the lack of permission, work continued on the building site this week.

Two planning applications have been received by the council, including one to build 35 houses. The proposals are also due to be advertised across newspapers this week.

Both applications have been submitted by Mr Gilmore or a company of which he is a director.

The proposed Mossvale Meadows scheme is also being advertised online.

According to a brochure publicising the development, the housing project has two types of property.

There is the Baker, which is a four-bedroom detached house that comes with two reception rooms, a master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and an optional sun room.

There is also the Calder, a semi-detached three-bedroom house, complete with en-suite bathroom.

The letter the council sent to the developer in November confirmed planning permission was previously granted, but had lapsed.

"Development on this site appears to be unauthorised," the council warned.

The letter also said: "The widening of the Mossvale Road and the footpath across the frontage of the site were not provided prior to the commencement of development and the permission has now expired."

"The current works on site are unlawful and are being carried out without the benefit of planning permission."

According to promotional material for the housing development: "Each home is built around beautiful architecture, with the highest quality internal and external finishes providing every resident with a wonderful property to call home.

"This fine collection of new homes is located on the Mossvale Road, on the doorstep of one of the area's newest primary schools and (is also) close to the local amenities and leisure pursuits available throughout the town."

News of the controversial project came as it was revealed that the number of planning applications was up by 5% on the previous year.

According to official statistics, approximately 3,058 applications were lodged between July and September.

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