Wednesday 6 February 2008

Opponents of Cashel hotel project to appeal planning ruling

A controversial proposal to build a five-storey, 83-bedroom hotel with an underground car park on land formerly owned by the Presentation Order of nuns in Cashel, Co Tipperary, is to be appealed to An Bord Pleanála following a decision by the town council to grant planning permission.

Richard O'Brien, a spokesman for the Save Our Town Park committee - a group of community activists opposed to the scheme - described the proposal as a "fiasco". He said the car park will not be able to accommodate tourist coaches, which is "incredible for a hotel proposal in a major heritage town like Cashel".

Mr O'Brien said his committee, which has attracted widespread public support, will hold a public meeting in the town later this month and appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála. He said "there are far more suitable sites for such a hotel on the periphery of the town where a lot of suitable development land is lying idle".

The council bought the 2.8-acre plot in the centre of the south Tipperary town from the nuns in 2001 for a price equivalent to €418,000 and then sold it on five years later for €1.9 million to CMS Developments Ltd of Clonmel, subject to planning permission for a hotel on the site.

Councillor Martin Browne (Independent) said town council "officials can only see the profit and the nuns who served Cashel very well for 200 years were short-changed and didn't get the right price for the property". He said the Presentation Order, which was leaving the town, only agreed to the sale because it was sent a letter "threatening a compulsory purchase order" and believed that the land would be used to create a town park.

Councillor Browne said "the whole thing leaves a bad taste" and hopes that An Bord Pleanála will hold an oral hearing into the matter.

Cashel Town Council has denied allegations of wrongdoing and defended the development as necessary because existing "hotels in the town can't cope with tourist numbers".

The Irish Times

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