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Permission refused for Westport housing development

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DECISION OVERTURNED An Bord Pleanála overturned Mayo County Council's decision to grant permission for the development.

Anton McNulty

AN Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for a 38-house development in Carrabaun, Westport. The development was initially given the green light by Mayo County Council.
When the council granted Westport-based developer Brendan Byrne and Son Ltd permission to construct the houses on the 3.6 hectare site at Carrabaun, Westport, the decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) by adjoining landowners, Emmet and Sandra O’Donnell.
The developer sought to have the appeal thrown out by ABP, but inspector Stephen Ward stated that he believed the objectors raised valid concerns and said he saw no reason for dismissing the appeal.

Multiple concerns
In his report to the board, Mr Ward expressed concern about a number of issues in relation to site density and the design and layout of the development.
Regarding the scale and proportions of the proposed houses, he stated they are ‘still largely based on an inappropriate suburban layout that does not respond to the form and layout of surrounding development/landscape’.
The development consisted of 37 four-bedroom houses and one three-bed house, all ranging in size from 133 to 189 square metre.
Mr Ward also expressed concerns regarding the limited mix of house types, saying the provision of predominately large houses does not address ‘people’s changing needs or enable residents to remain in the community as their accommodation needs increase/decrease’.
He also stated that the density of 10.5 units per hectare is ‘grossly inadequate and unacceptable on this large, prominent site in Westport’.
In recommending refusal, Mr Ward stated that the proposed development would ‘fail to provide a suitable quantum and range of housing to accommodate the residential population needs of the town and environs’.
“It is considered that the proposed development would provide a substandard form of development for future occupiers in terms of residential amenity, would give rise to a poor standard of development, and would seriously detract from the character and pattern of development in the area,” he added.

Close to town
The site adjoins the N59 Leenane road on the south side of Westport, and access to the development would be via local roads, including the Lankill Road. Houses there would be a five minute walk from High Street in Westport and located close to the town greenway.
The applicant had originally applied to construct 46 houses consisting of 30 detached and 16 semi-detached houses, but this was reduced to 38 during the planning stage after Mayo County Council raised ‘serious concerns’ in relation to the layout and house designs proposed.’
In their appeal, the O’Donnell’s stated this reduction went some way towards dealing with the ‘overwhelming inadequacies of the original submission’ but in their opinion it ‘still falls significantly short of providing sufficient information or acceptable levels of planning and design for such a significant site’.
They also stated that in their original objection to the council, they hoped by ‘offering encouragement for good design’ the applicant ‘might rise to the occasion and produce a scheme worthy of its context’.
“Any perceived drop in planning standards will result in sub-standard housing schemes which we will live with for a long time to come,” they stated, while citing the example of the nearby ‘Slí na Milseán’ housing scheme as a ‘collection of poorly designed houses gathered in an arbitrary crescent around a bland green area’.