Friday 24 November 2006

Regular objector has own house plan turned down

A KERRY man who has admitted he objects “all the time” to one-off houses and developments in scenic and conservation areas in the county has himself been turned down for a single rural house in an amenity area.

Michael J Horgan, Upper Cloonbeg, Tralee, had appealed to An Bord Pleanala against Kerry County Council’s decision to refuse him permission for a bungalow and septic tank at his site at Gortdromakiery, Muckross, Killarney.

The area, designated a secondary special amenity rural landscape in the county development plan, is near a river and is just outside the Special Area of Conservation of Lough Guitane, the primary water source for Kerry.

Mr Horgan, who is retired, said he wants the house in Killarney because he now spends four days a week there, walks in the national park and has a boat at Ross Castle. He had been granted planning permission previously for a two-storey house on the site which he has owned since the late 1990s. The council said the house would interfere with an essentially unspoilt area.

The planning application to the county council last March - with the newspaper notice appearing in Irish - was met with an avalanche of letters objecting to Mr Horgan’s proposal. Some of the dozen or so people objecting to the application raised concerns about traffic, pollution, zoning, proximity to a river and a lake, ribbon development and archaeology.

It was pointed out that Mr Horgan regularly objected to such housing for others. One letter said he had “a long established history of objections to one-off housing applications in rural areas.”

Mr Horgan claimed in his appeal that many of those objecting were persons or friends of persons whose developments he objected to previously, both personally and as chairman of Rivers and Lakes of Killarney Conservation Association.

He also said he had been involved in many planning applications and appeals - most of his appeals were upheld by An Bord Pleanala - but he objected to being branded a serial objector by county councillors who last year wanted to establish a register of such objectors.

Mr Horgan said on Monday that he had “never stopped” objecting to developments and would continue to do so, because of his interest in preserving the environment and scenery of Kerry.

On at least one occasion he hired a private investigator to gather information on an unsuitable development, and has highlighted pollution near the famous Torc Waterfall, as well as the treatment of effluent at the Victorian Dinis Cottage in Killarney National Park.

He has also been instrumental in ensuring information kiosk would now have to apply for planning permission as a retail outlet, as it had changed its emphasis.

Mr Horgan, who has a keen interest in angling as well as the outdoors and planning matters, said he would be studying An Bord Pleanala’s decision carefully.

His proposed house was to be located in an area which already had a number of houses.

“I had planning permission there already, but I let it run out,” he said.

An Bord Pleanala’s planning inspector, Mairead Kenny, said she did not consider that the pursuit of recreational activities by a retired person on a four-day a week basis constitutes a rural generated demand for a dwelling house.

“The development which is sited within an area which is subject of considerable development pressure, is contrary to the sustainable rural housing guidelines and would be unacceptable from the point of view of proposals for wastewater treatment and result in a traffic hazard,” Ms Kenny said, advising refusal.

The board upheld its inspector’s recommendation saying it considered that the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and it would constitute “excessive density of development by virtue of its impact on the landscape and would give rise to an extension of linear development into a substantially unspoiled open area which would interfere with the character of the landscape, designated as Secondary Special Amenity in the current development plan for the area”

The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the board ruled.

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