One of Mayo's best known businessmen has until Wednesday, October 20, to reach a decision on whether or not to lodge an appeal against the decision of Mayo County Council to refuse planning permission for the retention of an eight-unit estate in Ballyhaunis built four years. The authority informed Sher Rafique, the former proprietor of Halal Western Meats in the town, that the development known as Sherwood Close was substandard in terms of its design layout and finish.
The dwellings, constructed without planning permission in 2006, are located within a religious/residential/commercial complex adjacent to a Mosque. A total of 29 other accommodation units at the location have planning permission.
The consequences of the council's ruling means the eight houses in question will have to be bulldozed to the ground.
The matter was highlighted at a meeting of the Claremorris electoral area committee in July.
Brendan Munnelly, planning official, explained the development contravened the local area plan, seriously injured the amenities of the area and would set an undesirable precedent for future developments in the area if permission was to be granted.
He stressed to councillors that planning permission was not granted in any form for the development and said that the matter was now being referred to the enforcement section of the council.
Concerns have been raised in respect of the six families living in the houses in question.
Councillor Richard Finn said the council should take a step-by-step approach and not just go in with a bulldozer and knock everything down. He cited the fact Mr. Rafique had contributed a lot to the town and surrounding areas.
Councillor Finn claimed there is be an onus on the council to re-house the families affected.
Padraig Flanagan, senior executive officer, made the point there was a surplus of council houses available in Ballyhaunis to cater for the families in question.
Councillor Damien Ryan said it was ironic the enforcement section was seeking to demolish the houses when the matter should have come to light a long time ago.
Councillor John Cribbin stated he could not support an unauthorised development regardless of where it was located.
Focus is now being directed on whether the council's planning enforcement officers will evict the six families as a result of the decision made on September 22.
The cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Councillor Michael Burke, said he would not like the message to go out that people could build houses willy nilly and then expect to be rehoused once the council came in with enforcement procedures.