Former Great Western Hotel.

Go-ahead for proposed new Mulranny arts centre

AN Bord Pleanála has overturned a council decision that rejected plans for a new art centre and cafe in Mulranny.

The application for planning, which includes the restoration of a former pump house attached to the old Great Western Hotel, submitted by Tony Doyle for a site between the N59 and Trawaughter, Mulranny, was refused permission by Mayo County Council.

A number of objections were submitted in relation to the proposal.

Dublin-based Mr. Doyle is married to renowned Catalan sculptress Merce Canadell. The couple propose to relocate to Mayo to operate the centre, it was explained in documents submitted to the planning office.

Those plans can now proceed after the appeals board ruled that the project be granted planning permission.

The development consists of a three-bedroom house, with an artist's studio attached, plus an art centre with gallery. It includes the restoration and conversion of the old pump house to a cafe. There are also plans for a sculpture trail.

Mr. Doyle, a previous owner of the hotel, sold the property around 20 years ago but retained a two-hectare waterfront apron at the front, the subject of this application.

The old pump house on-site housed a Victorian engine which pumped seawater up to an open air swimming pool at the hotel.

In refusing permission, the council found the development would have a negative impact on the historic setting of the hotel, pump/engine house and causeway.

The appeal argued that the area of Mulranny, which is rich in scenery, culture and spirituality, is an ideal location for artistic expression and this is why there is a significant and thriving art tourism industry in the area.

The appeal also questioned whether the pumphouse was in fact a protected structure. The Great Western Hotel is but there was no specific reference to the pumphouse.

It noted that they are located in two separately owned properties, separated by a national road - the N59 - and are not visible from the other. Any connection between them has been entirely abandoned since the original swimming pool was filled in.

The appeals board inspector found the development would enhance and support enterprise and tourism within the village, would restore a building of industrial architectural heritage and enhance access to and from the causeway in accordance with the Mulranny Village Design Statement.

It would not detract or diminish the setting and integrity of the Mulranny Park Hotel, which is a protected structure, and would not adversely impact on the visual amenities of the area when viewing the site from either the N59 or from the causeway.

The board agreed with the recommendation to grant planning permission.