AN BORD Pleanála has scuppered plans for the development of a historic demesne near Celbridge, Co Kildare, on the basis that it would compromise the setting of Castletown House – now maintained by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
Overturning a decision by Kildare County Council to approve plans by developers Devondale Ltd for 108 detached houses at Donaghcumper Demesne, the board said it “would seriously injure the amenities of the area and of property in the vicinity”.
In its ruling, the board noted that both Donaghcumper House and Castletown are protected structures and that it is an objective of the Kildare county plan to prohibit development in gardens or landscapes associated with such structures.
The proposed development “would negatively impact on this designed landscape and would materially and adversely affect the character and setting of Castletown House, a protected structure of international importance, and Donaghcumper House itself”.
Notwithstanding the residential zoning of Donaghcumper Demesne, the board said the nature and scale of the proposed housing and the loss of parkland would contravene the Kildare county plan, “contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.
“It is considered that the proposed development, by reason of its scale and location, would result in an excessive degree of encroachment into the River Liffey valley lands, which . . . are significant in terms of landscape character and of high amenity value.” It was also not satisfied, on the basis of information suggesting the presence of bats and otters on the site – both protected species under the EU habitats directive – that the development would not have an adverse impact on the ecology of Donaghcumper.
Devondale is also seeking to develop lands to the west of Donaghcumper House for a mixed-use scheme comprising an urban expansion of Celbridge, including 648 residential units and commercial/retail floor-space of circa 47,304sq metres.
Jeanne Meldon, planning consultant for the Save Celbridge Alliance, yesterday hailed An Bord Pleanála’s decision as “highly significant” because it set a “clear precedent” for protection of the wider setting of the historic landscape of Castletown House.
It also set a precedent for the protection of Donaghcumper and the Liffey Valley. “They refused permission on the best possible grounds – the principle of prohibiting development in landscapes deemed to be an important part of the setting of a protected structure.”
The Save Celbridge Alliance has also appealed against Kildare County Council’s plan for a new road network intended to facilitate the development of Donaghcumper Demesne, claiming that this would also compromise the setting of Castletown House.
The proposed road network would include a bridge over the Liffey within sight of Castletown’s gates. Among those who objected were the Department of the Environment, the OPW, the Castletown Foundation and An Taisce.