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Plans for Westport apartments turned down


APPEAL A developer is set to appeal a decision by Mayo County Council to refuse planning permission for an apartment’s development in Westport town centre.

Developer disappointed by planning refusal for old Cap Factory development

Anton McNulty

A DEVELOPER has expressed surprise and disappointment at Mayo County Council’s refusal of planning permission for apartments at the old Cap Factory building in Westport.
The old Cap Factory building is located at the back of Bridge Street in Westport was purchased by developer Brendan Power two years ago. He sought permission to convert the derelict building into four apartments, consisting of two two-bedroom apartments along with one single-bedroom and one three-bedroom apartment.
The building is located at the rear of both the Porterhouse and Matt Molloy pubs. Objections to the development were lodged by the owners of both these premises. Both flagged concerns regarding the impact the apartments would have on their business, and flagged issues over access to the building and legality of a right of way.
During the planning process, Mr Power altered the design at the request of the town architect and planners. The three-bedroom apartment was omitted and revised plans consisted of two one-bedroom apartments, two two-bedroom apartments and a one-bedroom live/work unit on the ground floor.
However, Mayo County Council refused planning for the development, citing the lack of private amenity space, which would not comply with the minimum standards for new apartment guidelines. The council also claimed that the applicant failed to demonstrate he had sufficient legal interest in the entire site.

Speaking to The Mayo News, Mr Power confirmed he was going to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála and expressed surprise at the council’s decision.
“They [Mayo County Council] more or less told me at the start [of the planning process] that they were in favour of it.
“It [the building] is an eyesore as it stands and not in great condition. I just wanted to do something with it, and you’d think you’d be welcomed with open arms to develop it. I would have expected a more amicable approach from the Council and local business owners.
“It is something which is badly needed in the locality. Isn’t accommodation what people need at the moment? The town development plan is looking for residential units in the town centre, yet when you try to do it every obstacle is put in front of you. You wonder how it will be achieved going forward given that level of objection to it,” he said.

Insulation a priority
In objections to the application, the publicans stated they had concerns that the residents of the proposed development would be exposed to noise from the existing pubs.
In his response to these concerns, Mr Power stated that he greatly admires both licensed premises, that he does not want to impact on their businesses, and that sound insulation would be a priority.
He added that Dublin publican Charlie Chawke recently applied for planning permission to build 299 apartments beside The Goat Pub in Dublin which he owns. “He clearly has no reservations that the activities of the busy pub will adversely affect the owners and residents of these apartments,” Mr Power stated.

What has changed?
The Cap Factory has been derelict since it closed in the 1980s, but planning permission was granted in 2004 to convert it into residential departments – a development that never took place. Mr Power now wants to know what has changed in the interim to warrant the refusal of his application.
“There was approval on that building before … it’s not like this is a new departure. There was no objection to a bigger development in 2004.
“We feel we have grounds for appeal and probably will appeal it and I’d like to think we will get a fairer hearing,” he told The Mayo News.