Wednesday 16 January 2008

Joy for locals as green area saved from housing

A CHERISHED city green has been saved from development.

The decision by Cork City Council’s planning department to refuse outline planning permission — permission in principle — for four houses on Bishopscourt green in the western suburbs could have implications nationwide as public open spaces are targeted for development.

Planners ruled the location of the proposed development submitted by Ken Mahon was within an area designated as open space in the original planning application for Bishopscourt estate in 1965.

Two references to that permission — one recorded by the city council and one by the county council — were cited.

Planners also cited the provisions of Policy NHR 11 of the Cork City Development Plan which states there will be a presumption against development of public open spaces.

They said they considered the proposed project would contravene that policy and would seriously injure the amenities of the area and of property in the vicinity.

“The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” said the ruling. It was not clear last night whether Mr Mahon will appeal the ruling to An Bord Pleanála.

Roisín O’Regan, secretary of the residents’ association, which mounted a huge campaign to save the green, welcomed the decision and said they were ready in the event of a possible appeal.

“We worked very hard to prepare our objections,” she said. “We had a very active and single-minded committee that gave a lot of energy and time to find out all we could to help us protect what we always believed was our own green.”

The 1.6 acre green in Bishopstown has been used as a public amenity for over four decades.

It became the focus of a major community campaign last summer when it was put up for sale as part of the sale of a house which stands on its corner.

Residents were shocked to learn that title to the green was included in the title to the house. The house and green were subsequently sold to Mr Mahon.

He applied late last year for outline planning permission to build four houses on the site — a project which would have resulted in the loss of almost half the site.

An unprecedented 95 submissions objecting to the project were received.

The planners’ decision was issued yesterday to Mr Mahon and to the 95 individuals who submitted observations.

The campaign to save Bishopscourt Green prompted city councillors to amend the city development plan just before Christmas to protect all open green spaces from development.

Irish Examiner

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