Friday 18 January 2008

Waterford railway station gets green light despite objections

A €17m redevelopment of Waterford's Plunkett Station, by Iarnród Éireann, is set to go ahead despite objections.

Twenty conditions have been attached to the granting of planning permission which has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála. Iarnród Éireann are planning a major upgrade of the office building facade, an extension of passenger facilities and the provision of a new multi-storey car park with 328 parking spaces. Planning permission was granted by the City Council, last May, but that was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by An Taisce and by Brendan McCann of 169 Viewmount.

An Taisce maintained that the multi-storey car park, because of its size, would not do justice to its natural setting.

It was also maintained that the ‘sheer size of the car park would overpower the adjacent signal box.

Issue was also taken with the materials to be used which An Taisce said would soon become dirty, polluted and would rapidly go out of fashion.

Other issues of concern centred on billboard advertising and it was stated that the development should be considered within the context of the larger landholding of the company. Brendan McCann who has been to the forefront in objecting to developments in the city also highlighted the ‘poor weathering characteristics of materials to be used on the car park building and in the cladding of the existing railway station.

His additional grounds of appeal outlined how the existing single storey red brick building as well as the platform canopies should be retained. If planning permission were granted it should be subject of a condition regulating the use of the multi-storey car park. "The proposal," added Brendan McCann, "ran contrary to the provisions of the Waterford PLUTS in that it precluded the proposal for a new rail passenger facility on the North Quays.

Last, but not least, "The proposal would create a potential traffic safety hazard by generating bus access directly onto the existing roundabout," Brendan McCann told An Bord Pleanála. Among the twenty conditions which have been set down by An Bord Pleanála is a specific stipulation on parking.

Prior to the multilevel car parking being brought into use there must be a written submission for the agreement of the planning authority a scheme indicating how a proportion of the 328 parking spaces shall be reserved and retained solely for the use of rail customers and passengers.

The reason for that stipulation is to ensure that the objectives of the development plan are met with regard to facilitating sustainable commuter travel opportunities on public transport.

A new fleet of trains is set to operate an expanded Waterford-Dublin service later this year with trains planned every two hours in each direction all day.

Work on the new station will get underway short-ly and will take some eighteen months to complete.

Marion O'Mara
Waterford News and Star

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