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Inver sports hall ‘to be paid for by Shell’ given planning permission

Inver sports hall ‘to be paid for by Shell’ given planning permission

Anton McNullty

A PROPOSED sports hall and playing pitch in the Erris village of Inver which was described as a ‘white elephant’ to be ‘paid for by Shell’ was given planning permission by An Bord Pleanála.
The planning body granted planning permission for the sports hall in Inver despite objections from Maura Harrington who considered the proposed development was ‘neither desirable nor sustainable’.
As well as the sports hall, the development also comprises of a playing pitch, dugouts, floodlights, ballstop netting, electronic scoreboard, covered viewing stand, maintenance shed, play area, community facilities, new roadway, carpark and all associated site works.
The development proposed by the Inver Community Development Group is located on land owned by Údaras na Gaeltachta at the rear of a recently constructed housing estate and the church. The floor area of the proposed sports and community hall is 1,087.5 square metres with the interior laid out to accommodate a sports hall which appears suitable for basketball or five-aside soccer and could also be used for community functions.
A meeting area of over 40 square metres is accessible from inside and outside the building and the remainder of the building is set out to provide toilets, showers, changing areas and ancillary facilities such as ice bath and ice machine. North of the sports hall is a playground/multi-use games area, which is about 350 square metres in area. The majority of the site is devoted to the soccer pitch which is to be fitted with floodlights and a covered viewing stand. Parking is provided for 90 cars, for five bicycles and for minibuses and coaches. 
Planning permission was granted by Mayo County Council on March 23, 2012 but an appeal was lodged by Peter Sweetman and Associates on behalf of Maura Harrington and by other observers.
In the grounds for appeal, Ms Harrington - who is a retired school principal of Inver National School - cited a number of objections including that the Natura Impact Statement was fundamentally flawed.
Anita Murphy and others said the proposal would quickly become another white elephant in a rural setting’. 
Gerard Heneghan and others raised concerns about the on-going movement of heavy traffic and had health and safety concerns for their children.
In her report, Senior Planning Inspector Mairéad Kenny agreed that the scale of the development is large relative to the size of the village but rejected the argument it would be alien or out of character. She also said that she did not consider that argument that Shell was the principal source of funding to be a planning issue. She also concluded that the development is acceptable in terms of its archaeological impact and will not have adverse impact on the amenities or the landscape.

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