In March of 2007, the Kerry-based Master Group secured planning permission to transform the 18th Carnelly House estate into a retirement village. The plans included 95 houses, 40 apartments and a 64-bed continuing care facility and village facilities, including a spa with a 12 metre pool and a specially equipped gym, a shop, restaurant and bar.
The company initially got the go-ahead after an appeal was withdrawn.
In the aftermath of the withdrawal, managing director of Master Group Ray Kelliher confirmed construction of the first phase in July 2007 with the first houses and apartments being ready for occupation in mid-2008.
The company had hoped the construction phase would bring over €12 million in wages over a two-year period, and, on completion, a €40,000 per week spend for local shops and businesses.
However, in the intervening years, only preparatory work had taken place. The Master Group, through Stamer Ltd, has now lodged an application with Clare Co Council to extend the time in which to complete the development. The current planning permission is due to expire in March of next year.
Documents lodged show €1.4m has been spent on the project to date with €670,000 on planning fees and costs with €834,000 on preparatory costs.
The company has also confirmed construction work is due to commence on site in June and be complete by December 31, 2016.
The conditions attached to the current planning permission prompted the Master Group to state it would spend €120,000 on ensuring the welfare of 30 tiny bats on the site.
While investigating the site prior to seeking planning, the developers discovered that the site is a nationally important maternity roost for the rare and protected Lesser Horseshoe Bat.
As a result, the council concluded that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lodged doesn’t satisfactorily assess the significance of the impact of the proposal on bats and asked the developers to put in place mitigation measures to protect the bats.
The spend on the bats will include the refurbishment of a coach-house building at Carnelly and the construction of a ‘flyover’ internal road.