Monday 27 August 2012

Proposed crematorium refusal challenged at High Court

A HIGH Court challenge has been launched against An Bord Plenala's refusal to grant permission for a crematorium and burial grounds in South County Dublin.
Hantise Ltd and Ashman Properties Ltd sought permission to construct a crematorium and graveyard at a 3.64 hectare site they own at Kilternan.
In June An Bord Pleanala upheld a decision by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Council to refuse permission for the proposed development that includes more than 1600 burial plots, a building with two cremators with a place for prayer, an urn and ash burial area, and remembrance walls.
The refusal was on the grounds that the proposed development was contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
However in its High Court action the developers, represented by Eamon Galligan SC, claim the Board did not afford them fair procedures in arriving at its decision to refuse permission.
They claim that they were not allowed to comment on or make submissions on two reports relied on by senior planning Inspector with the Board who recommended that permission be refused.
They also allege the Inspectors finding's are not fair or accurate and contain errors in fact.
The companies, with a registered address at The Herbert Building, The Park, Carrickmines, Dublin 18 are seeking orders from the Court quashing the Board's decision of June 29th last refusing planning permission for the development of a Burial Ground and Crematorium Park at Ballycorus Road, Kilternan Dublin.
They are also seeking an order that its application be remitted back to the Board, where it would be assessed by a senior planning inspector.
They also want the remitted application heard by a panel or division of the Board comprised of persons other than those who refused their application. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council is a notice party to the proceedings.
The developers sought permission to bring their legal challenge against the board on an ex-parte (one side only) basis.
However today at the High Court Mr Justice Kevin Feeney directed that application for permission to bring the challenge be made in the presence of legal representatives of the Board.
The Judge the adjourned the case to a date in October.
Read the article @ The Irish Independent

IFA to consult public over Windsor Park

The Irish Football Association has launched the first stage of its public consultation process for the redevelopment of Windsor Park.
Having already appointed planning consultants and a design team to present a formal planning application at the end of the year, the IFA is now canvassing the views of the wider community.
With the help of £25.2million of funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the IFA plans to increase overall capacity to 18,000, create brand new south and east stands and relocate its headquarters to the national stadium they share with Linfield.
The consultation process will last for 12 weeks and plans will be available for public viewing at seven locations in the Belfast area.
A statement from the governing body read: "The Irish FA is today launching a Community Consultation Process, which is the first phase of the wider community engagement process required to deliver the sustainable, economic, social, equality and environmental returns as part of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure investment in the Regional Stadium Development Programme.
"[It will] provide an opportunity for the wider community and groups with an interest in the stadium redevelopment to become better informed about the proposal and to contribute their views before a formal planning application is submitted.
"The aim is to bring about meaningful public engagement which contributes to the project design, helps to address any community concerns and to mitigate potentially negative impacts."
Northern Ireland have a run of four consecutive World Cup qualifiers at Windsor Park between this November and September 2013 before finishing their campaign with away trips to Luxembourg, Azerbaijan and Israel - during which time construction work is expected to take place.
Read the article @ The Irish Independent

€430m ski and leisure park fails to convince planners

AN ambitious proposal to build a new €430m leisure park featuring an artificial ski slope, concert arena and casino has been turned down by planners.
The project -- the 'Altitude' leisure and tourism park -- had been touted as a major attraction with the potential to draw more than one million visitors a year to the 32-acre site in Dundalk, Co Louth, close to the Dublin-Belfast M1 motorway.
However, following an appeal by Louth Environment Group, An Bord Pleanala refused permission on a number of grounds.
It said the scale of the development proposed -- which would attract 1.15 million visitors to Dundalk each year -- would result in an "unsustainable car-dependent development". The board deemed the development contrary to national transport policy, which seeks to cut private car travel.
The proposed development was also found to be in an area vulnerable to coastal flooding.
Innovative Leisure Systems, which were behind the project, had envisaged the park creating 1,200 full-time jobs when it was rolled out over seven years.
The businessmen behind the project -- Sam Curran and Pearse O'Hanrahan, a former Fianna Fail councillor in Dundalk -- had initially estimated Altitude would be completed by 2016.
A call to Mr O'Hanrahan and the firm that submitted the application went unreturned last night.
Mr Curran was also involved in delivering the Ice Dome skating rink in the town which later closed.
Heritage body An Taisce last night welcomed the decision to refuse the planning permission for the artificial ski slope and park.
- Louise Hogan
Read the article @ The Irish Independent

Campaign to highlight 'barren' Liffey

A PROTEST involving a flotilla of boats in Dublin is planned during the tall ships’ visit to highlight the emptiness of the river Liffey and to seek proper provision for the mooring of leisure craft and houseboats.
Sam Field-Corbett, of the Irish Ship and Barge Fabrication Company, said the “Use the Water” campaign – supported by other boat users – will be directed against “forces that, over the years, have turned the river into a barren, lifeless and empty space”.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Gas fracking should not be allowed anywhere, says top environmentalist

THE GOVERNMENT would “become the shoeshine boy of the [shale gas] industry” if it allowed fracking to take place anywhere in Ireland, according to the Nigerian human rights activist who heads Friends of the Earth International.
Nnimmo Bassey said Ministers “should not be allowed to sacrifice the environment on the altar of corporate greed” – as they had done for decades in his own country, where “the entire nation was Shell’s concession”.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Mayo to levy power and waste projects

MAYO COUNTY Council is planning to impose “community benefit” levies on wind farms, power stations, quarries, gas pipelines, telecom masts and waste disposal facilities – but the move would not apply to the Corrib gas project.
The council, which has extended the deadline for public consultation on its proposals until September 28th, is planning to set the levies at exactly the same level – €2,500 per megawatt – for wind turbines and “industrial installations for carrying gas”.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Heritage Council grant restores rural cottage

A GRANT of €6,000 from the cash-starved Heritage Council has resulted in the restoration of a 300-year-old thatched cottage near Dungarvan, Co Waterford – and paying guests can now enjoy staying in this authentic Irish rural farmhouse.
“It is romantic,” says Margaret Flanagan, proprietor of Coole Country Cottages. “It reminds you of what it might have been like to have lived in this cottage hundreds of years ago, with rough, thick walls and thatch pouring over its doors and windows.”
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Legal action over refusal to allow crematorium

A REFUSAL by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for a crematorium and burial grounds in south Co Dublin is being challenged in the High Court.
Hantise Ltd and Ashman Properties Ltd sought permission for a crematorium and cemetery at a 3.64 hectare site they own at Kilternan. In June, An Bord Pleanála upheld a decision by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to refuse permission for it.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Medical centre permit partly overturned

An Bord Pleanála has refused, in part, permission for the retention of a medical centre in Killarney after an appeal by the town’s pharmacists.
Two years ago, most of the town’s GPs relocated to the centre, built by Sunday’s Well Properties Ltd. Situated about 1.5km from the town, the centre houses 15 GPs and dozens of ancillary medical staff over three floors, plus a pharmacy.
The multistorey Reeks Gateway building was built for office and commercial use during the boom. However, its conversion to a medical centre has been dogged by controversy.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Plans for 14-turbine wind farm in Co Galway rejected by Bord Pleanála

An Bord Pleanála has rejected planning approval for a 14-turbine wind farm near Moycullen in Co Galway.
The project, submitted by Western Power Developments, was approved last year by Galway County Council and involved 14 turbines, 140m (460ft) tall, within a kilometre of seven houses at Knockranny, overlooking the Galway-Clifden road. It also involved ancillary structures, including a control building, a permanent meteorological mast of up to 80m in height, a substation, access tracks and associated infrastructure across an area of almost 225sq m.
The board, which overruled its inspector’s recommendation of the project, has cited the area’s archaeological heritage and the risk of peat slippage as the main reasons for rejecting the plan.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Restoration work on St Mel's Cathedral to begin shortly

THE RESTORATION of the fire-damaged St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford is due to begin in the coming weeks.
St Mel’s Cathedral project committee has, following a tendering process, sent a letter of intent to Longford building firm Gem Construction (in association with Purcell Construction of Galway) asking them to carry out work on the historic cathedral.
The cathedral, which opened in 1856, was gutted by a fire that began in a chimney flue, leading from a boiler, in the early hours of Christmas Day in 2009.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Monday 13 August 2012

Councils living on overdrafts

ALMOST two out of every three city and county councils are effectively broke and relying on overdrafts to meet day-to-day expenses.
A report from the Department of the Environment says "system-wide" changes are needed to bring council finances under control, and warns that services will be cut if "major efficiencies" are not achieved.
The revelation of the state of local authority coffers comes as councils across the country are being hit with cuts in funding from central government because of non-payment of the controversial household charge.
Some €160m was due from 1.6m households, but only €99m has been collected.
It means councils will have €61m slashed from their budgets over the coming months, and those with the lowest collection rates will be hardest hit.
A report from the Local Government Auditor has identified a range of problems surrounding how councils manage their money, including not getting best value on contracts, spending more than they take in and, in some cases, not knowing what assets they own.
Around 20 of the State's 34 councils are in the red, with nine highlighted as having very high "unfavourable balances" -- in effect overdrafts -- of more than €2m.
Donegal had the highest overdraft at more than €12.7m. Next is Sligo (€9.9m) followed by Meath (€8.3m), Waterford (€6.9m), Wexford (€6.3m), Kildare (€3.9m), Mayo (€2.7m), Wicklow (€2.1m) and Westmeath (€2.05m).
The report is based on the most recent audited figures, from 2010, but funding from central government has fallen since then as Ireland has remained mired in recession.
Earlier this week, Sligo County Council said it needed a €10m bailout from central government after its bank refused to extend its overdraft facilities.
The report also shows local authorities owe more than €2.3bn in non-mortgage loans, a slight drop from the previous year when €2.44bn was owed.
These are long-term loans used to fund land purchases or to build capital projects such as water treatment plants.
The report warns that councils owe €637m for capital projects already built including water treatment plants and offices, but there is no money identified to pay for the works. Many schemes are reliant on the council borrowing money to meet the costs, or drawing down loans from the Department of the Environment.
Crucially, the report also says councils are owed almost €700m.
Local authorities are owed €269m in unpaid commercial rates, €160m for water and €185m in development levies, but not all are making provision in their accounts to write-off some of the debt.
Another €47m is owed in rent and €24m in housing loans, bringing the total to €685m.
Councils owe €4.9bn in loans, some of which are being repaid on an interest-only basis. Some of the money was drawn down at the height of the boom to buy land which has sharply fallen in value, while other loans were used to provide mortgages for council tenants who bought their homes.
Between them, councils have assets worth more than €90bn, but problems have been identified with titles and the accuracy of much of the property.
The report highlights the need for councils to identify new sources of income to help fund essential local services such as libraries, social housing, parks, water and grants.
The household charge (to be replaced by a property tax), water charges and septic tank inspection fees to be introduced in the next two years should help shore up the coffers.
Sligo -- one of the worst performing -- is seeking to make 42 workers redundant to help tackle its money woes.
The report says the county needs to prepare "realistic achievable budgets" which need to be "carefully monitored and implemented". It notes that these issues were previously raised in 2009.
Carlow County Council has been warned it cannot rely on the accuracy of a bond register which is supposed to show how much was lodged by developers to complete housing estates in the event they went bust.
In Cavan, 1.5 hectares of land bought five years ago has not yet been registered in the ownership of the council, while Cork County Council had a loss of €3.1m on the sale of affordable homes.
The report also warns that money for pensions is not being ring-fenced, and there are no proposals to change this system.
- Paul Melia
Read the article @ The Irish Independent

Building in North to outstrip Dublin

CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY in Northern Ireland and in Border counties is set to run significantly ahead of that in Dublin, according to a new analysis of planning applications.
The number of planning applications made to local authorities in Northern Ireland per head of population is twice the number made per capita in Dublin, according to planning data company Link2Plans.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Clonakilty Gaelscoil plans approved

A WEST Cork Gaelscoil will offer classes in a purpose-built school for the first time in 18 years following planning approval by An Bord Pleanála.
Staff at Gaelscoil Chloch na gCoillte (Clonakilty) have taught pupils in a variety of makeshift classroom locations including a disco, a former Church of Ireland teachers’ residence, a mobile home, a holiday home and 29 prefab buildings since its inception in 1994.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Planned Cabra strand of Luas gets green light

DUBLIN’S cross-city Luas line, the only major rail project sanctioned by the Government, is set to carry its first passengers in 2017 following the granting of permission by An Bord Pleanála yesterday.
The Luas BXD, will run from the Luas Green line at St Stephen’s Green to the Iarnród Éireann station at Broombridge in Cabra, connecting the Green and Red lines for the first time.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Belated link-up corrects costly mistake

YESTERDAY’S DECISION by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the Luas Broombridge line to link the existing Red and Green Luas lines underscores the folly of having built two independent lines in the first place.
Not having done the job properly when the lines were built eight years ago has proved extremely costly in terms both of inconvenience to the travelling public and, probably more importantly, money.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Machine removed from Mayo road

A giant tunnel boring machine belonging to Shell, which became stuck on Tuesday after the lorry it was being transported on jack-knifed at an isolated Co Mayo crossroads, has been removed.
A spokesman for Mayo County Council said the junction at Glenamoy crossroads near the villages of Rossport and Carrowteigue was now cleared and that traffic was back to normal.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Bord Pleanála gives green light to new Luas extension

The Luas BXD, known as the “missing link”, is a 5.6km line running from the Luas Green line at St Stephen’s Green to the Iarnród Éireann station at Broombridge in Cabra, connecting the green and red lines for the first time.

It will link the green line from Sandyford to St Stephen’s Green with the red line from Tallaght to Connolly Station. The lines will meet up at O’Connell Street. The Luas BXD will then run to Parnell Square, Broadstone, Phibsborough and Cabra. 

Read the article @ The Irish Times

Department seeks expert to examine planning report

THE DEPARTMENT of the Environment is seeking an independent planning expert to examine its internal review of alleged planning irregularities published last June.
The review of complaints about planning in seven local authority areas found “deficiencies” but no evidence of corruption or abuse of public office by officials.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

Galway docks plan being finalised

THE FUTURE of Galway is right in front of it: between the former Great Southern Hotel on Eyre Square and the sea. Indeed, local architect Roddy Mannion believes that the landbank lying beside Ceannt Station could meet most of the city’s growth to the end of this century.
Owned in parts by CIÉ, distressed property developer Gerry Barrett and the Galway Harbour Company, it amounts to a total of 14 hectares (34 acres). But despite being identified in 1999 as having great potential for an extension of the city centre, nothing has happened.
Read the article @ The Irish Times

'Stonehenge' on Achill must be removed as court order lifted

THE STONEHENGE-like structure built last November on Achill Island is to be taken down after the High Court yesterday lifted a stay on an earlier demolition order.
Dubbed “Achill-henge” by locals, the circular concrete structure was erected by property developer Joe McNamara on a scenic hilltop overlooking the village of Pollagh, despite attempts by Mayo County Council to halt the work.
Read the story @ The Irish Times

Nama plans threaten Drogheda project

STATE AGENCY Nama’s plans to fund a cinema and retail development in Drogheda threaten a similar, privately backed, project that is already under way in the town, it was claimed yesterday.
Nama recently indicated that it would decide shortly on whether to provide funds to revive plans to build a cinema complex, restaurant and retail space in the town’s Scotch Hall centre at a cost of €20 million.
Read the story @ The Irish Times