A DECISION on a Bord Pleanála planning appeal, lodged by the developer behind plans to build a five-storey block of student apartments at a site at the Lacken Road in Kilbarry, has been pushed back until April.
On September 14 of last year, Tony Robinson lodged the appeal with An Bord Pleanála against Waterford City and County Council’s refusal of permission for the demolition of an existing bungalow and the construction of the 94-bed development on the site.
In reaching their decision, the Council planners felt it would constitute an “over dominating presence” in an otherwise residential area and give rise to overlooking and a loss of privacy.
It was considered that it would be out of scale with its surroundings, would fail to make a positive contribution to the urban neighbourhood and streetscape, and would be contrary to policy objectives. The developer also sought to enclose a section of the land designated open space to provide surface car parking.
Furthermore, the planners felt that it would seriously detract from the residential amenities of the area and depreciate the value of property in the vicinity.
The refusal of permission heralded a huge victory for local residents, who vehemently opposed the proposed development.
A decision on the planning appeal was due on Thursday last, January 26. However, the decision date came and went. In respect of the appeal, An Bord Pleanála issued correspondence stating, “It is a statutory objective of the Board to ensure that every appeal received is determined within 18 weeks beginning on the date of receipt of that appeal…”
However, the Board served notice that it was not possible to determine the case within the statutory objective period due to a backlog in cases.
“The Board now intends to determine the appeal before April 18. The Board will take all such steps as are open to it to ensure that the appeal is determined before that date,” the letter said.
Cllr Joe Kelly (Ind) expressed disappointment about the delay. “People have been waiting long enough for this decision. It is causing stress and strain on the residents because they are worried about it. It is disappointing that An Bord Pleanála wasn’t able to complete their statutory duties. I feel they are letting down the residents of the area,” he said.
Cllr Kelly also raised concerns about the introduction by Government of amendments to temporarily disapply the Part 8 planning approval process for local authority-owned development proposals.
Looking at the bigger picture, he said the Councillors’ role in the process will be bypassed. This this could have a critical effect on many applications, including the Lacken Road one, given that the development hinges on the open space in front of Templar’s Hall being enclosed for a car park. As it stands, should planning be granted, this element was supposed to come back before the councillors for decision. Cllr Kelly fears that under the new regulations the land could be handed over without the councillors being able to intervene.