AN BORD Pleanála has overturned the decision of Meath County Council to allow the construction of a business and technology park in the grounds of Carton House, one of Ireland’s most important Georgian mansions.
The joint venture between NUI Maynooth and Glashrooneen Ltd would “seriously injure the setting of Carton House” and would be contrary to the proper and sustainable development of the area, An Bord Pleanála said.
In its ruling An Bord Pleanála describes Carton House and its estate as “one of the most important elements of Ireland’s architectural, cultural and historic heritage” and as having “international significance”.
The house and its lands which straddle the Meath and Kildare border, were in the 18th century home to the Earl of Kildare, but were turned into a luxury hotel and golf resort in the early 1990s despite strenuous objections from An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society.
Notwithstanding this intervention the estate retained much of its original character and its use as a golf resort was permitted with the objective of preserving the property for future generations, An Bord Pleanála said. “The proposed development, by reason of its nature, scale and location would entirely conflict with such an objective and would interfere with the character of the landscape, which it is necessary to preserve, and would seriously injure the setting of Carton House,” it said.
The development would have seen the construction of 8,431 metres of office space of up to four storeys in height; 9,202 metres of university buildings including a research centre, a sports science building and an innovation centre; and 130 apartments and houses.
Restaurant, creche and retail facilities and 735 surface car parking spaces were also planned on the 34 hectare site on the Co Meath part of the estate.
An Bord Pleanála noted that Meath County Council had zoned the lands for this type of scheme, but said their development would be contrary to the development plan guidelines issued to the local authority by the Department of the Environment.
Development of these lands would also be contrary to the regional planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area, and Meath County Council’s own development plan, the board said.
An Taisce, which had opposed the development yesterday welcomed the board’s decision and said it revealed the impact of ill-considered rezoning.
“The decision is an important precedent for the protection of historic designed parkland and woodland demesne landscapes,” it said.
The Palladian-style house was built in 1739 for the Earl of Kildare, it was landscaped under the supervision of Emily FitzGerald, the first Duchess of Leinster.
Lord Edward FitzGerald, one of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion was born at Carton House. In 1816 the third Duke of Leinster sold Leinster House in Dublin to the RDS and made Carton his main residence.