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No place to call home

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OVERRULED The board of An Bord Pleanála overruled their own inspector to deny the Barrett's planning permission.

Family denied planning by ‘ridiculous’ decision

Anton McNulty

A Mayo family’s bid to build their family home in a remote part of north Mayo has been blocked by what they call ‘faceless’ officials in An Bord Pleanála and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Micheál Barrett, his wife Kiara and their seven-month-old baby currently live in rented accommodation in Ballina in a property which they recently discovered may be affected by pyrite.
They were granted planning permission by Mayo County Council to build on family land in Dooleeg More, 12km west of Crossmolina on the N59 road to Bangor, beside Micheál’s mother. However, that planning permission was appealed by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), who claimed it would lead to an ‘unacceptable level of extra traffic’ exiting onto the N59.
This is despite the fact that the Barretts agreed to exit onto the main road via the existing entrance to his mother’s home. Micheál also travels every day in and out from Ballina to tend to cattle on the family farm and uses an existing lane beside his mother’s house to access land. An inspector for An Bord Pleanála (ABP) visited the site and recommended granting planning permission. However, the board of ABP went against their own inspector and refused planning.
The national planning policy is that planning cannot take place onto national roads such as the N59 regardless of location.
“A national road in the west of Ireland or outside Crossmolina is totally different to a national road outside Dublin or a national town …  For some reason nobody can have a new entrance onto the N59 which is totally ridiculous. They seem happy enough to let rural Ireland die,” Micheál Barrett told The Mayo News.
Crossmolina-based Cllr Michael Loftus is urging changes be made to the Mayo County Development Plan to stop such refusals, which he described as ‘so wrong’.
“I don’t get mad about things too often but this is one which has upset me. Here is a young man who wants to live beside his mother and raise his own family and what happened is so wrong,” he said.



TII and Bord Pleanála ‘killing’ rural Ireland


Anton McNulty

2906 N59-Google-Maps 600‘FACELESS’ officials in An Bord Pleanála and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) are killing rural Ireland, according to a man who was refused planning permission to build beside his family home.
Micheál Barrett and his wife Kiera were refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála to build a home on family land in the townland of Dooleeg Mor, which is located 12km from Crossmolina on the N59 road to Bangor.
Mayo County Council had initially granted planning permission but the decision was appealed by the TII who claimed that  it would lead to an ‘unacceptable level of extra traffic’ exiting onto the N59.
An inspector with An Bord Pleanála (ABP) who visited the site felt the new house would not lead to increased volumes of traffic and recommended the granting of planning permission. However, the board of ABP sided with the TII against its own inspector and refused planning permission.
Micheál, who works in Hollister in Ballina, inherited the family farm following the sudden death of his father in 2019 and he travels every evening from Ballina to tend to cattle. He told The Mayo News he cannot see the logic in refusing planning permission.
“The idea that I am going to add additional traffic even though I travel from Ballina to my farm every single day does not stack up. That was the annoying thing. The person who came down from An Bord Pleanála who visited the site, walked the road and got the sight lines and a flavour of where it was wanted to grant permission. But these people who are faceless up in Dublin who never saw it and have no clue what the area is like or the social need, turn around and say no and give the decision based on a stupid policy,” the 35-year-old said.

Uncertain future
Micheál and Kiera and their seven-month-old child currently live in rented accommodation in Ballina which they recently discovered may be affected by pyrite. He explained that moving back to his home village was something he and his wife were looking forward to but the decision to refuse permission throws their future into uncertainty.
“There hasn’t been a house built in my village for over 25 years. It is not for everyone living where I’m from, it is kind of rural but I like it because it’s where I am from.
“My dad, who passed away in 2019, left me the farm so me and my wife and young child decided to move back to be beside my widowed mother. It was going to be great peace of mind to her that we were going to be living near her and she was delighted to see a couple moving back into the village.
“There was peace of mind for my siblings too that we were going to be living beside my mother to keep an eye on her. I see her most evenings when I visit the farm but this decision has thrown up the question of whether it’s even feasible for me to be travelling in and out every evening.
“We don’t have a massive farm but it was left to me and there is an attachment there and I would like to keep it going. But is there any point travelling in and out if I will have to be leaving my wife and my child every evening to be checking cows? If I had got planning out there it would have solved a lot of issues.
“These decisions have wide affecting ramifications for people. It has changed my mother’s plans, it has changed our plans and my siblings’ plans. It has thrown everything up in the air for us all.
“I never met anyone from TII to have a rational conversation with them but yet they have had a massive impact on my life.”
Micheál explained that he had to go through hoops to satisfy the criteria of council planners and agreed to use his mother’s existing driveway as access to his new home. He also had to conduct a traffic survey to prove that he used the road every day and he would not create additional traffic.
A 150 yard long laneway which leads to his site and is used by three other households as an access onto the N59 was also considered a new entrance by planners and not suitable as it was not a public road. Micheál offered to pay for its upgrade to allow it to be taken over by Mayo County Council and declared a public road but the offer was not taken up by the council.
“It is ridiculous. It would be a different story if I was cutting an additional entrance out onto the N59 in a dangerous location. Then there would be some argument to say it is unsafe. But I go in and out this road every single day of the week. How is it unsafe for me but safe for everyone else to use?”

Traffic movements
The Owenwinney Wind Farm, which is one of the largest in the country, is a few miles back the road and Micheál also questioned how the hundreds of traffic movements caused by its construction is deemed safe.
“In the height of the construction of phase one there could have been hundreds of trucks on the road. I would not have added as much trips onto the road in a lifetime as these trucks would have over the construction phase of the project.
“Wind projects seem to have no problem getting planning but people from the area cannot. Where is the justice in that? You wonder have they just designated that area for wind or green projects and prefer if people don’t live there?”
The national policy is that development cannot take place along national roads like the N59 as it would create additional traffic and could pose a safety risk. Micheál said he knows of other people in his village who have trouble getting planning because of access issues onto the N59 and calls for the policy to be scrapped for areas like Dooleeg Mor.
“A national road in the west of Ireland or outside Crossmolina is totally different to a national road outside Dublin or a national town. The traffic volumes are totally different. I can guarantee you there are more instances of this along the N59, it is a long stretch of road. For some reason nobody can have a new entrance onto the N59 which is totally ridiculous.
“They seem happy enough to let rural Ireland die.”