LOUTH COUNTY Council has no planning policy relating to the historic Battle of the Boyne site, according to a developer who has been refused planning permission to build a 23-bedroom hotel on part of the site.
The council turned down plans by local businessman Gavin Collins to build the hotel with conference rooms at the bottom of King Williams Glen, a short walk from the Office of Public Works visitors’ centre. He also proposes to repair and reinstate a protected view of the battlesite, which is at the rear of the hotel.
Mr Collins has appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála. In his submission he says “there is no written policy in the Louth county development plan with regards to developments in the primary area of the battlefield”.
Neither, he says, were submissions made on the development plan by either the OPW or the Department of the Environment, and if there had been, they would “give guidance” to the council “as to the policy that is felt required”.
Despite this, objections to the development were made to the county council by three separate sections in the department as well as by the OPW and An Taisce.
The department said the hotel would be “situated at a critical location within the historical landscape of the Battle of the Boyne”.
The OPW opened a new visitors’ centre at the site last year and the department said the surrounding landscape and its connection to the site “needs significant further research and excavation to establish the full historical and cultural significance of the area”.
The department is currently surveying all battlefield sites in the country, including this, which, it said, “is one of the highest significance”, and until the survey is completed, “it would be inappropriate and premature to allow a large- scale commercial development of this nature at such an internationally significant location”.
An Taisce said that while there was “a range of legislation protecting archaeological, ecological, architectural heritage and landscape-sensitive sites in Ireland, there are no specific provisions relating to the protection of historic battlefields”. It said there was “no justification” for the suitability of the site for any development other than refurbishment of the existing small buildings on site for small-scale use.
However, support for the hotel has come from a number of bodies, including Fáilte Ireland.