Wednesday, 19 January 2011 11:18
A fresh row has blown up in Mayo over the Department of the Environment's controversial change to the county development plan prohibiting all new building works along national and regional roads. Elected members of the Castlebar electoral area committee vehemently condemned the ongoing policy of the National Roads Authority (NRA)
in opposing one-off houses on rural sites due to their proximity to such routes.
It followed the announcement of Mayo County Council's intentions to refuse planning permission to Padraic O'Malley for the construction of a dwelling at Kilfaul, Partry, Claremorris. A similar application by Joseph and Julie Ann Conway at the location is also earmarked for refusal.
Councillor Al McDonnell singled out NRA official Tara Spain for 'leading a single-handed campaign against rural revitalisation' in Mayo.The Fianna Fáil councillor stated: "As far as I am aware, she is operating at a solo level. But she knows nothing of the difficulties she is causing families. It's a disgrace what is happen and it cannot be tolerated any longer."
Councillor McDonnell said the reasons the council were citing for refusing the O'Malley application can be overcome.
"This man who is a farmer wants to build a house next to the family home. He will be using an existing access which is long established. The suggestion that he can build across the road on an alternative site is ridiculous.
"Firstly, he does not own the site and, secondly, he would have to cross a main road eight or nine times every day if his house was on the alternative side.
"An Bord Pleanála has already created a precedent by granting a similar application nearby because the application was deemed a resident farmer.
"This case is no different and all the criteria are met by him. It would be a gross injustice to refuse him."
Councillor Cyril Burke said he agreed wholeheartedly with Councillor O'Donnell and asked the council's senior planners to reconsider the matter.
"There is no alternative site available to this man. A precedent has been set by An Bord Pleanála and we should accept it."
Councillor Michael Kilcoyne said the proposed house will not create a new access."What is happening in this case is totally wrong. Officials of the NRA don't have any appreciation for the fact that people are entitled to live in rural communities close to their elderly parents.
"I would have no hesitation in supporting a Section 140 notice in respect of this application."
Councillor Frank Durcan said it was his intention to draft a Section 140 notice before a final decision on the application is due to be made on January 26.
"Planners are living on a different planet than the rest of us. This man was given a site by his late father to build next to the family home. He does not own any other sites. Natural justice must prevail."
Councillor Blackie Gavin said the O'Malley case was a very genuine one and he deserved to get planning permission.
"I am fed up with the NRA and I think it is time we took them on."
Councillor Henry Kenny agreed with the views expressed by the other members. "I am satisfied he is entitled to planning permission."
Councillor Eugene McCormack, chairman of the committee, said he walked the site and there was no doubt in his mind that planning permission should be granted.
"Nobody can force him to build across the road. What's happening is wrong."
John McMyler, senior planning official, said he sympathised with the points raised by the elected members.
But his hands were tied by the amended county development plan which is specific in not allowing any new development along national or regional routes.
Seamus Granahan, director of services, opted not to comment publicly on the matter.