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New Westport Coast Guard station gets green light


Anton McNulty

Westport Coast Guard have been given the go-ahead to develop its new station at The Quay in Westport after An Bord Pleanála approved planning permission for the project.
Mayo County Council granted planning permission to the Commissioner of Public Works in July for the construction of a new station for the Westport Coast Guard unit to be located on a site adjacent to the old boat club on the causeway to Roman Island at The Quay area of Westport.
The new station will incorporate a two-storey accommodation block raised in plinth along with a single storey boathouse and vehicle store. The proposed building will house the vehicles and boats of the Westport Coast Guard unit and boats will be launched directly from the station.
At present Westport Coast Guard unit, which was founded in 2003, operate out of a small shed and container on the other side of the old boat club, adjacent to the Heritage Centre.
The decision by Mayo County Council to grant planning permission was appealed to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in August by the Westport Quay Boat Owners Association who questioned the proposed position of the station along the quay.

‘Inappropriate and excessive’
In its submission to ABP, the Westport Quay Boat Owners Association claimed that the proposed use of the site on reclaimed harbour land, where space is at a premium would be ‘inappropriate, excessive and would conflict with other existing and future uses’. The association also claimed a coast guard station does not need adjacent quayside access, the design of the building is excessive inscale and also raised the question of flooding risks in the area.
In his report, Mr Colm McLoughlin, inspector with ABP, addressed the risk of flooding in The Quay area and cited ABP’s recent refusal to grant planning permission to Portwest to construct its global headquarters at Roman Island due to flooding concerns.
Mr McLoughlin noted that while they would use the same access road, the two developments differed as the security and safety functions of the Irish Coast Guard is required to be located on the waterside. He added that the applicant stated that vehicles allocated to the facility would be capable of travelling through deeper water than normal and was satisfied that permission for the proposed development should not be refused for reasons relating to flood risk.
In relation to the location of the proposed station, he said he was satisfied that the proposed development would not interfere with the ongoing storage of boats.
He found that the development would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and recommended granting planning permission subject to eight conditions. The board of ABP followed the inspectors recommendations and granted planning permission for the development.