A 661-housing development on lands where King Billy crossed the Boyne has been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala, despite reservations from locals and political figures.
The new estate is at the bottom of Rathmullen, where the road splits to Sheephouse and down to the Boyne.
The Board cited the fact that the lands are zoned residential in the Meath Co Development plan 2013-2019 and the Southern Environs of Drogheda Local Area Plan 2009-2015.
They added that a screening exercise had taken place in relation to the potential efforts on the Boyne and Special Areas of Conservation and found that it would not have a 'significant' effect on these sites. They said that a Stage 2 assessment is not required, 'in doing so, the Board disagreed with the conclusions of the Appropriate Assessment Screening Report submitted with the application.'
They say there will be 'significant positive effects' with regard to population and 'material assets' due top the increase in housing that it will provide to the town.
They add that the new estate will not have a 'negative impact' on the local environment.
It is also deemed acceptable in terms of 'pedestrian and traffic safety and convenience.'
Work on the site will take place between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.
The period of the permission is five years from the date of the Board's decision and the proposed development 'shall be completed within that period in accordance with a revised phasing plan.'
Works will take place on the Sheephouse Road and at the signalised junction at Rathmullen Road, with the carriageway no more than six metres wide and a cycle lane.
The Highlands Residents Association had objected to the massive development, stating there is significant historical status of the site in relation to the Battle of the Boyne, the roads are incapable of supporting such a large development and there was no consultation with registered local community groups on traffic impacts.
Their application stated that the site 'forms part of the Battle of the Boyne site, it's one of the most significant parts of the whole site as this is the point where King William of Orange
finally crossed the Boyne. It was here, on these lands, where Williams forces (6 cavalry regiments) finally crossed the river and established themselves on the south side of the Boyne.
'It is our opinion that given the historical ramifications of this successful crossing of the river, this site is a de-facto national heritage site and must be properly protected under Irish and EU Law. No development can or should ever be permitted on this land and it should be held in trust by the state and turned into a national park.'
In relation to traffic, they say the Rathmullan Road is the only road linking the site to Drogheda.
'The Rathmullan road already experiences daily gridlock during peak times, showing that it is currently operating beyond its capacity. We don't accept that even with the proposed junction upgrades this road will ever be able to support the traffic levels that this development would generate. Indeed some of the proposed upgrades show clearly that the engineers in question have not been here during peak traffic times.'
They say the traffic survey is flawed and 'does not show the traffic flows turning into or coming out of St. Oliver's School. This school is the largest secondary school in Drogheda with 1380 pupils and more than 120 staff. The flow of busses and cars to the school makes this a gridlock area morning and evening.
'The survey states that there are only 18 cars turning right coming out of Highlands in the morning rush, however there are 146 cars coming out of Riverbank and turning left towards Drogheda. This is crazy because both estates have similar number of dwellings (around 280) and similar demographic profiles. What this actually shows is small number of cars ABLE to get out of Highlands onto the Rathmullan road due to the 500m tailback from the Marleys Lane junction.'
They add that the junction with the Bridge of Peace is also a major issue.