PLANNING PERMISSION has been refused for a €100 million development at Hazelwood House on the shores of Lough Gill in Sligo.
The project would have involved the construction of more than 200 residential units and the demolition of a disused factory in the grounds of the historic estate.
An Bord Pleanála has upheld the decision of Sligo County Council not to grant a 10-year planning permission for the project which was to incorporate the demolition of the former Saehan Media factory, the restoration of Hazelwood House and the construction of 212 residential units.
Among those making observations or objecting to the project were the Department of the Environment, the Irish Georgian Society, An Taisce, the Hazelwood Action Group and Birdwatch Ireland.
Hazelwood House was designed almost 300 years ago by Richard Castle, architect of Leinster House, Powerscourt House and Westport House, and was the ancestral home of the Wynne family for almost 200 years until the 1920s.
The developer, Foresthaze Development Ltd, had undertaken to pass responsibility for the upkeep and management of the historic home to the Irish Heritage Trust after the Palladian-style mansion on the shores of the Garavogue river had been fully restored.
The planning board found that the site was within a designated sensitive rural landscape area and a visually vulnerable area, as designated in the Sligo County Development Plan 2005–2011 and that a major portion was also designated as “green belt” in the Sligo and Environs Development Plan 2010–2016.
The proposed development would not adequately provide for the reinstatement of Hazelwood House and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, it concluded.
The board pointed out that the site was also located within the Lough Gill special area of conservation and said the proposed development would give rise to the loss of significant areas of woodland designated as part of that SAC.
In its submission, the Irish Georgian Society stressed the need to prioritise the restoration of Hazelwood House in advance of any other works given the continuing decline of the historic property. Planning inspector Mary Crowley pointed out that although two section 59 endangerment notices had been issued by Sligo County Council in 2009 there was little certainty about the type or timeframe of the restoration works planned or a date for a handover to the Irish Heritage Trust.
She echoed the views of Sligo County Council’s heritage officer that the future of Hazelwood House should not be linked to the commercial success of residential sales and stressed that the urgent conservation work required could not wait for eight to 10 years.