60-house plan turned down after appeal

Architect’s drawings of how the 60-house development in Rathmore would look

AN Bord Pleanála has overturned a Kerry County Council decision to approve planning permission for the demolition of a derelict house and the development of 60 new houses, the formation of vehicular and pedestrian access and the provision of roads and boundary walls at Shinnagh, Rathmore.

The council had earlier granted permission, with conditions, to the Old Road Partnership, c/o Brendan Williams, Design Studio, Ballydunlea, Tralee, but a third party appeal was submitted by Joe and Lucy O’Keeffe, c/o Killarney solicitors Terence F Casey and Co.

The main reason given for the An Bord Pleanála decision was that the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and the Killarney Municipal District Local Area Plan 2018-2024. The inspector said it would seriously injure the visual and residential amenities of the area.

An Board Pleanála found that the design, layout and configuration of the proposed development, including “the piecemeal provision of open space and excessive car parking” would result in the development failing to respond to the unique characteristics of the site.

The planning inspector also mentioned a poor connection to the established town centre in Rathmore and said the development would not “contribute to a sense of place making”.

The development had been approved by Kerry County Council, with conditions

The development was planned for a substantial 2.98 hectares site within the town of Rathmore, 20km east of Killarney.

Modifications were made to the proposed layout and configuration during the course of the application in response to the council’s request for additional information and the development was to include

27 three-bed, two-storey terraced dwellings, 12 three-bed, two-storey semi-detached dwellings, six four-bed detached two-storey dwellings, nine two-bed single-storey dwellings and six one-bed single storey dwellings.

In May of last year, councillors in Killarney had given the project the green light after planners said it would give a new lease of life to a town where the population has remained static for years.

Cllr Niall Kelleher: Withdrew from the meeting to avoid a possible conflict of interest

To facilitate the proposal, councillors had voted unanimously in favour of a recommendation for a material contravention of the Killarney Municipal District Local Area Plan.

Cllr Niall Kelleher, who informed officials and councillors in advance that he had a one eighth shareholding in the partnership involved the development, didn’t participate in the vote and left the meeting while it was being discussed to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

In his absence, Mayor Brendan Cronin and Cllrs Donal Grady, Maura Healy-Rae, Niall O’Callaghan, Michael Gleeson and Marie Moloney all voted in favour of the material convention.

Kerry County Council senior planning official, Damien Ginty, said at the time that the development was “well designed and well considered” and, as it was the first application of its kind in Rathmore for a number of years, it would rejuvenate the town.

An Board Pleanála commented on “the piecemeal provision of open space and excessive car parking”

“It will bring new residents into the centre of the village,” Mr Ginty claimed.

An Bord Pleanála noted that the proposal was presented as the first of a five-phase masterplan for the development of the adjoining lands comprising an overall site of approximately 26.6 acres.

Application documentation submitted suggested that the provisional masterplan schedule would include 120-units of residential development, a 60-70 bed nursing home, a mixed use office, commercial, retail and café area of approximately 20 units and a 2,000sq. m discount retail foodstore.

Kerry County Council senior planning official, Damien Ginty, said the development would rejuvenate the town of Rathmore

The An Bord Pleanála inspector, Brid Maxwell, noted that that the masterplan layout indicates three access routes – two vehicular and one pedestrian –  to the overall masterplan site.

“Only one of these access routes is to be provided as part of the current proposal which would, in my view, represent a piecemeal approach which would compromise the achievement of integration and engagement with the established town centre”.

She added: “I consider that the layout as currently configured, within the redline boundary, is somewhat detached from the existing town centre and does not provide for connection including pedestrian/cycle permeability”.

The inspector said, on the issue of density, the proposal would equate to 20 units per hectare which would be “considered unambitious” in the context of a fully serviced and accessible site.