KILDARE COUNTY manager Michael Malone is seeking to set aside key measures in the county council’s draft development plan – designed to protect historic landscapes around Celbridge — following a submission by a development company.
The move follows a decision by An Bord Pleanála on February 16th to refuse permission to Devondale Ltd for a scheme to facilitate the development of Donaghcumper Demesne as an extension of Celbridge town centre.
Overturning a decision by the county manager, the appeals board said the scheme – which included a new bridge over the river Liffey – would constitute a “major intrusion” into the setting of Castletown House and its historic grounds.
Amendments to the Kildare Draft Development Plan, to strengthen the protection for Castletown and Donaghcumper, were agreed by councillors last December, on foot of some 4,000 submissions.
A further submission was made in late January by planning consultants RPS on behalf of Devondale – a company controlled by developer Brian Durkan – seeking to overturn these amendments so that Donaghcumper could be developed.
Mr Malone is now seeking to set aside the amendment and has recommended in a report that a specific reference to “the Donaghcumper lands” for the development of an extension of Celbridge town centre – dropped by councillors last December – should be reinstated.
Mr Malone’s report also recommends omitting references to protecting “views across the river and to the demesnes of Donaghcumper and St Wolstan’s” and to the “sensitive designed landscapes” of the two demesnes, as well as Castletown. Asked to explain the justification for these changes, a spokeswoman for Kildare County Council said the county manager had issued his report and his recommendations would be considered by councillors at meetings on April 4th and 7th.
Planning consultant Jeanne Meldon, who is also a director of the Castletown Foundation, said it was clear that “the threat to Donaghcumper and Castletown arising from the unfortunate and ill-conceived zoning of 2002” still existed.
She said Mr Malone’s report “takes no account” of the most recent ruling by An Bord Pleanála. “All of the groups and individuals who made submissions and appealed the applications are horrified that one vested interest appears to hold sway.” Ms Meldon also noted that the appeals board “did not accept the evidence put forward by RPS” relating to the designed landscapes of Castletown, Donaghcumper and St Wolstan’s. Instead, it had “validated the arguments” put forward by objectors.
The Castletown Foundation pointed out that local authorities were required by planning guidelines on protecting Ireland’s architectural heritage – issued in 2004 – to safeguard the wider setting of protected structures such as Castletown House.
“It is vital for Castletown that the key views from the house and demesne are fully protected,” it added.
“Millions of euro have been invested and are being invested in Castletown, most recently for restoration of the paths and walks in the demesne, for the benefit of all.”