Sunday, 17 January 2010

Campus developer accuses planning board of sitting 'in ivory tower'

ONE OF the developers of a high-tech bio-tech campus that was linked to NUI Maynooth in a project that could have created up to 2,000 jobs has criticised An Bord Pleanála, which refused permission for the development, saying its members “cannot sit in an ivory tower and make decisions independent of the national good”.

Conor Mallaghan, chief executive of Carton Demesne Holdings Ltd, also said the proposed South Meath Area Research and Technology or “smart park”, which was a joint proposal with NUI Maynooth, would have involved an investment of €250 million.

The park was granted permission by Meath County Council but appealed to An Bord Pleanála by four parties including An Taisce. The board refused permission.

The smart park was to be built at Moygaddy, part of the Carton Demesne in Co Meath.

“I fundamentally believe in this development more than ever,” Mr Mallaghan said yesterday.

“The knowledge, innovation and research and development sectors are areas Ireland is committed to and the way to deliver them is in co-operation with bodies like NUI Maynooth and companies like Intel.”

After the permission was overturned, the developers asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment to visit the site. That is expected to take place in the coming days, depending on the weather.

The park was to contain three blocks where NUI Maynooth wants to put a 2,600sq metre innovation centre, a sports science building of 3,300sq metres and a research centre of 3,200sq metres. There would also be office accommodation, 130 residential units and a neighbourhood centre.

“Out of the 54 pages of its report, An Bord Pleanála has three lines dedicated to the bigger picture; it has to be recognised that the board cannot sit in its ivory tower and make decisions independent of the national good,” Mr Mallaghan said yesterday.

While he would not rule out the planning application being resubmitted, he said that when it came to An Bord Pleanála the developers would have to be satisfied that “its brief is above and beyond the 2004 Heritage Act and it gives due cognisance to the social, economic and national impact of its decisions.”

The board refused permission on five grounds, including that it contravened the regional planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area and policies in the Meath county development plan; that it is close to a special area of conservation and that it would be contrary to policies on the preservation and enhancement of woodlands and to discourage the felling of mature trees.

Irish Times

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