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‘We can’t repeat mistakes of past when building houses’

Cllr Gerry McMonagle has said mistakes of the past have led to today's traffic problems in Letterkenny.

Cllr Gerry McMonagle has said mistakes of the past have led to today’s traffic problems in Letterkenny.

DONEGAL County Council has been urged not to repeat the mistake it made a decade ago when thousands of houses were built but not the roads to support them.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry McMonagle said that during the noughties – 2000 to 2009 – it had been a case of “development at the cost of infrastructure”. The fall out from that were the traffic problems now gripping Letterkenny, he said.

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With the local authority preparing to launch its development plan for 2018-2024, Gerry McMonagle warned against Donegal County Council “falling into the trap” for a second time.

Speaking in Lifford on Tuesday when a draft version of the development plan was tabled, Cllr McMonagle said, “We all know that in recent times we have had increasing gridlock in Letterkenny and a lot of that is primarily in the Mountain Top and the road in from Glenties.

“What I would see there is that there are lands up at Thornberry which have linkages right down to the bottom of the Business Park Road and what we should be doing is setting out some of that land for a road, an additional road that will help carry the volume of traffic that is amassing coming into Letterkenny for employment, shopping and recreation facilities.

“In terms of the general linkages, and I know we already have roads earmarked, but a lot of those are in the south and I think that on our side, we are losing out and we are depending on one road coming into Letterkenny and that needs to be looked at. We need to be looking at a road to take the overspill of traffic that is going to be on our roads in years to come.

“I know some of that land was previously zoned for housing and I don’t want us falling into the trap we did in the noughties, development at the cost of infrastructure and that led to, I would argue, the cart being put before the horse and we built all the houses but not the roads and infrastructure to support the traffic.

“The roads that we really need now are not there and in any future development it should be in tandem with the development of the road network and any community facilities.”

Cllr McMonagle added that in drawing up a blueprint for Donegal’s future, the council needed to be factoring in land for community and sporting use. He said that as things stand, there was not enough to support the county’s rapidly growing sporting fraternity.

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“If we are working towards Letterkenny being the centre of the county and where most of the growing population will settle over the coming years then in relation to municipal playing fields, we already have a lack of them.

“There is not enough to meet the needs of our younger population and our thriving sporting population so I would like to see within the plans for Letterkenny and in terms of lands being zoned, is there going to be land set aside, primarily where we can have football pitches, rugby pitches, GAA and hockey pitches? It’s not in the detail of the plan,” he added.

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