Friday 29 August 2008

Council defers viewing tower decision amid visual impact fears

A VIEWING tower proposed for tourist haven Killarney could detract from some protected buildings in the town, which date to the 19th century, it is feared.

Such buildings include the Pugin-designed St Mary’s Cathedral, which has a spire rising to about 90m.

Killarney Town Council yesterday confirmed a decision on a planning application for the 83m tower and an accompanying retail development, which had been due this week, had been deferred for six months.

The council is seeking from the developers, Sunday’s Well Properties, further information on the tower, a shopping complex and other facilities, all earmarked for a 14-acre site at the Malton Hotel.

Town clerk Michael O’Leary has asked the developers for a visual impact assessment and an urban design statement for the proposed tower.

He is also looking for architectural heritage assessment.

Mr O’Leary said: “It is considered that the proposed development of this viewing tower has the potential to significantly influence the landscape character of the town for the foreseeable future.”

The council is concerned about the impact of the tower on the Malton Hotel, the cathedral and the local railway station, all protected structures dating to the mid-1800s.

Plans for the tower have attracted much attention in Killarney, with most of the reaction being favourable.

It would have perforated copper cladding from top to bottom and would have commanding views of Killarney’s lakes and mountains.

Of the 11 submissions received by the council in relation to the tower, seven were positive — mainly from business and tourism groups.

Those against included An Taisce, nearby Countess Road residents and some local councillors.

The residents, for instance, felt the tower would be out of keeping with the character of the town, as well as being too high.

But, bodies such as the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, the Irish Hotels Federation and Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism said it would be a boost to the town.

Some, however, called for more research into the sustainability of the tower.

In all, 25 submissions were made to the council in relation to the entire €200 million tower/shopping project, the biggest that has been proposed for Killarney.

The development includes a 1,200 space underground car park, but the town council reportedly has “serious concerns” about the impact of the overall plan on traffic flow in a town that is already congested.

Irish Examiner

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