Friday 31 August 2007

Healy-Rea houses refused

Kerry County Councillor Danny Healy-Rae has been refused permission by An Bord Pleanála for a 38-house development near the main street in his home village of Kilgarvan, Co Kerry.

The councillor, normally a fierce critic of constraints on development in Kerry, has reacted by saying he believed the board may have done him "a favour" in their decision given the way the housing market is at the moment.

Last April, Kerry County Council refused Mr Healy-Rae of Gortnaboul Partnership, planning permission for the Kilgarvan houses partly because of "deficiency" in the village sewerage facilities.

The council planners said the development would also be premature because a local area plan for the village had yet to be completed.

Originally, Mr Healy-Rae had planned to build 47 houses on the elevated site at Gortnaboul, near his brother Cllr Michael Heal-Rae's shop and petrol station, but had scaled the plans down with the council and before his appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

Yesterday Mr Healy-Rae said he believed the board may have done him a favour in refusing him.

"I believe they have done me a favour because the sale of houses is not good at the present time," he said.

Even if he had got permission, he would not have proceeded for some time, given the housing market state right now, and things can only get better, he said.

He had planned a "unique sewerage treatment" system that would not have impacted on the public system, but could be linked later. A new public sewerage system for Kilgarvan was advancing at this stage.

In his formal appeal Mr Healy-Rae said he had had detailed discussions at pre-planning meetings with council staff including sanitary services and there had been no objection by the public to his application for a discharge licence.

In her report, planning inspector Maireád Kenny noted two other residential developments were current in Kilgarvan, and one had been withdrawn.

She referred at length to the absence of a local plan for the village - that plan is due later this year.

"In the absence of a Local Area Plan it would have been open to the applicant to suggest an urban design scheme for this and the adjoining lands, which would have assisted in promoting the case for the development. No such proposals are set out and the layout as initially submitted to the Planning Authority and as revised fails to take account of the character of the area or to make any connections to the adjoining lands," Ms Kenny said.

The applicant has not demonstrated that there is an urgent need for housing in the area, or set out any other case which might justify a decision to grant prior to the adoption of a local area plan. Such a plan would establish density and appropriate design standards and criteria for development, she added.

Anne Lucey
© 2007 The Irish Times 30.08.07

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