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Council directed to reduce planning bill for Castlebar development


Anton McNulty

Mayo County Council has been directed to amend the financial contribution bill for a Castlebar development by nearly €47,000 after a successful appeal by the developments.
Castlebar-based company, Jackita Ltd, appealed the decision by Mayo County Council to impose €143,955.99 worth of levies for a town centre development to An Bord Pleanála.
The company - whose company directors are Vicki Staunton, David Staunton, Anne Staunton, Jack Staunton and Megan Staunton - were granted planning permission to demolish an existing derelict building on Main Street and construct a new part-two storey and part-three storey commercial and retail unit.
The levies included €116,718 for car-parking charges and these were described by the company in their appeal as ‘punitive and should be removed’.
In his report, Donal Donnelly, inspector for An Bord Pleanála stated that the reduction in floor area of the development from 1,626 square metres to 1,547.116 square metres should be taken into account when calculating the financial levies. He amended the development contribution levies to reflect this and reduced the total levy to €97,069.45 - which included a reduction in the car parking levy to €71,460.
The current derelict building had previously housed two retail units which were destroyed by a fire in the mid-2000s. The nature of the new development is to be part retail and part commercial spread over three floors and a basement, with a ground floor of 520,665 square metres.
In the appeal lodged by Niall Taylor of Taylor Architects on behalf of Jackita, he stated that they hoped the development will be a ‘template for future development of a new streetscape onto the Castle Street Car Park’.

The Council planners stated that there was a shortfall of 49 proposed car parking spaces on the proposed scheme. Mr Taylor disputed this claiming there was adequate existing car parking in the town to serve the retail operations in the town.
“The car parking levy imposed makes not only the scheme under phase one unviable financially given the construction costs, achievable rents etc, but also makes phase two and any future developments of the backlands unviable. Such a levy therefore is, in our opinion, a retrograde or backward step in the future development of Castlebar town centre,” Mr Taylor wrote.
Mayo County Council had initially expressed concerns over the scale of the development but after amendments were made to the plan, the development was granted planning permission in February.
In granting planning permission, the council’s planners report stated that the development will ‘contribute to the much needed rejuvenation of the Main Street and will also represent a significant move towards the redevelopment of vacant land to the rear of Main Street and allowing for the development of a new streetscape along Castle Street car park’.
The board of An Bord Pleanála accepted Mr Donnelly’s recommendation to direct Mayo County Council to amend the financial contribution payable to them and also stated the contribution ‘shall be paid prior to commencement of development or in such phased payments’.

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