The developer of a proposed housing development in Ballinrobe will not have to pay a €24,000 levy for the upgrade of a public footpath after An Bord Pleanála upheld his appeal against Mayo County Council’s planning condition.
An Bord Pleanala (ABP) questioned the legitimacy of Mayo County Council requesting London-based developer Paul Fox to pay the €24,000 levy as part of the planning conditions after permission was granted last January to construct 80 dwelling houses along with a creche at a site at New Line, Knockfereen (Neale Road), Ballinrobe.
Mr Fox appealed this condition as well as another requiring him to pay a €19,577.88 housing take-over contribution.
Mayo County Council had attached 40 conditions to the planning applications, and it claimed that the €24,000 special contribution levy was to be paid prior to the commencement of the development to upgrade the public footpath from the site to the Bulkan River.
With regard to the footpath, Mr Fox claimed that the area between the site and the river is already connected by an existing footpath, which is sufficient to serve the development. He also claimed that the council had already applied a general contribution of €19,577.88 for footpaths and argued that this was a ‘duplication of levies’.
The footpath in question runs along the western boundary/road frontage of the site which is along the N84 and runs from where the frontage of the site along this road terminates up to the Bulkan River, where the N84 meets the New Line Road.
In the ABP report, inspector Colin McBride questioned the legitimacy of a special contribution given that there is already a provision for a footpath levy. He did not view the footpath upgrade as essential and recommended the removal of the condition.
He added that he felt the €19,577.88 charge for the housing take over contribution was acceptable and recommended no change to this condition.
Mr Fox applied for planning permission in 2009 to build 110 dwellings comprising of 17 two-storey detached three-bedroom houses; 66 two-storey semi-detached three-bedroom houses; nine semi-detached three-bedroom bungalows; 18 two-storey three-bedroom terraced houses in blocks of three; as well as a 340-square-metre creche.
Mayo County Council granted planning permission last January but the total number of dwellings was reduced to 80, with 20 per cent of the units to be preserved for social and affordable housing.