Friday 24 July 2009

Company that demolished convent gets site planning

A PROPERTY development company which was last year fined €1,000 for illegally demolishing a 19th century convent in south Dublin has received planning permission to redevelop the site.

Kimpton Vale Ltd, controlled by developer Laurence Keegan, received approval from An Bord Pleanála for 32 houses and 15 apartments. The 1.26-hectare site, off the northern side of Terenure Road, is just west of Presentation school. It comprises the footprint of the former convent building and its recreational grounds. The site is bounded to the northeast by housing on Eaton Square.

Kimpton Vale pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court last September to illegally demolishing the convent on November 4th, 2006. The council was considering plans to make it a protected structure at the time. A charge against its principal Mr Keegan was struck out.

In recommending that An Bord Pleanála uphold Dublin City Council’s decision to grant permission,planning inspector Peter Gillett described the area as an established suburb with a good range of community and residential support facilities.

The board also said its decision had regard to the residential zoning of the site, the design, density and layout of the proposed development, and the pattern of residential development in the vicinity. The board imposed conditions including that an archaeological survey of the lands be carried out before building, that agreement on landscaping and screening be reached, and that hours of construction be restricted to 7.30am-6pm.

The decision to approve the development was criticised by Labour Party TD Mary Upton. “The decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission to a developer which was convicted for illegal demolition of a habitable dwelling makes a mockery of the existing planning legislation in the State,” Ms Upton said.

Describing the fine to the development company of €1,000 as “paltry”, she said it was to combat such situations that she had introduced a new planning and development Bill last year.

“This Bill would have precluded anyone found guilty of breaching planning permission or the planning and development Acts from being involved in construction for a five-year period. It would also have ensured that cases would have to be tried in the Circuit Court at a minimum, and not the District Court as is currently the case,” she said.

Ms Upton welcomed the fact that the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 “takes on board the broad thrust of my argument”. She said it stopped short of “a real sanction on developers”, and called on Minister for the Environment John Gormley to amend it.

Irish Times

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