Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Planning board told of NRA's 'extraordinary position'

A PROMINENT Irish developer has expressed concern over the influence which the National Roads Authority (NRA) has had on the State’s planning appeals board in a number of strategic decisions.

Cork developer Michael O’Flynn said: “It seems to me that the NRA believes that it is in some extraordinary position of power and influence, far above all other agencies as regards its contribution to the appeals process.”

Mr O’Flynn was speaking on the sixth day of a Bord Pleanála oral hearing concerning a €400 million development of 1,200 houses at Dunkettle outside Cork city which his company, O’Flynn Construction, proposes to build.

The NRA told the hearing last week that planning permission should be refused for the project as it would lead to even further traffic congestion at the Jack Lynch/Dunkettle interchange.

Mr O’Flynn said this was one of the rare occasions on which he had given evidence in an oral hearing. But he had felt compelled to do so on this occasion.

He pointed to a continuing failure on behalf of “certain Government agencies” to invest in Cork and in particular to ensure that the infrastructure of the region was adequate to support economic development.

“And now, not only is the NRA not investing in Cork but it is objecting to and frustrating the ongoing development of Cork and the implementation of the CASP (Cork Area Strategic Plan) strategy, our development and the Dunkettle Park and Ride being the most recent examples.”

Mr O’Flynn said he found it amazing that, not only had the NRA appointed three sets of consultants to overturn a decision taken by another public authority, but they had also flagged in a recent public prequalification tender document the possibility of objecting to no less than 18 planning applications which might affect the Dunkettle interchange.

“The logic of their position suggests that the NRA proposes to object to developments of any scale north and east of the Dunkettle Interchange . . . The board must consider if it will permit one agency to prevent the implementation of the vital policies underpinning the social and economic development of Cork.”

Earlier, the secretary of Glounthaune Community Association, Louise Oppermann, told the hearing of their concerns about the negative impact the development would have on the area in terms of traffic, residential amenity and on the character and setting of Dunkettle House, a protected structure.“We believe that, in the context of current economic and market realities, a fundamental reconsideration of approach is required in relation to the development of major housing schemes, particularly those of the ‘Celtic Tiger hangover’ type currently under appeal.”

Irish Times


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