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Chief Executive recommends approval for Portwest building


PROPOSED BUILDING Portwest’s proposed office block on the Roman Island peninsula of Westport Quay.

Councillors set to make a decision on controversial office block this Friday

Anton McNulty

THE Chief Executive of Mayo County Council has made a recommendation to west Mayo councillors to approve the rezoning of land at the Quay in Westport, to allow for the development of Portwest’s proposed €10 million global headquarters.
Portwest plans to locate the controversial building on the old Pollexfen Mills on Roman Island at The Quay, Westport, where up to 150 people will be employed. However, the site is currently zoned for marine-related tourism development. This means for planning permission for the proposed development is to be granted, it needs to be permitted as a material contravention of the Westport Development Plan. Material contravention permissions must follow public consultation.
Members of the West Mayo Municipal District are due to consider the material contravention at their monthly meeting on at the local civic offices this Friday.
Peter Hynes, the Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, has written to the seven councillors in the Municipal District, and recommended voting for the material contravention.
“It is my recommendation to the council that the project constitutes proper planning and sustainable development of the area and should be permitted to proceed subject to the appropriate conditions,” he wrote.
The decision on whether to materially contravene the development plan is a reserved function and in this case five of the seven councillors must vote in favour.
The public consultation process sought submissions from the public on the proposed building and its location.

Of the 87 valid submissions received by Mayo County Council, 62 objected to the material contravention, 23 were in support, and two were neutral. A number of issues and objections were raised concerning zoning, traffic and parking, flooding, environmental considerations, public amenity use, tourism, employment and building design.
In explaining his reason for favouring permission for the project, Mr Hynes said that the development will enhance the economic development of the town and will re-use a brownfield site. He said the current Portwest head office building is no longer suitable for the expanding needs of the 90 people currently employed there, and that the new building would have the capacity.
“The proposed office development will make a significant positive contribution to the area by bringing life and vibrancy outside of the tourism season and result in a more sustainable mix of uses for The Quay area,” Mr Hynes wrote.
In relation to the zoning of land, Mr Hynes stated that the proposed material contravention would permit the construction of an office development on this site only and that marine-related tourism would remain on Roman Island, as set out in the development plan.
Mr Hynes added that a Road Traffic Impact Assessment found that traffic flows generated by the proposed development during peak hours ‘will be minor and will have a negligible impact on the surrounding road network’.
A workwear and safetywear manufacturer, Portwest was founded by the Hughes family in Westport in the early 1900s and it remains a family-owned business. In employs over 3,000 staff worldwide.