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Refusal of 121 new urban Mayo homes slammed as 'devastating'

Hammer blow for Claremorris and Ballyhaunis

PLANS for 121 new homes in south and east Mayo have been dealt a hammer blow.

Three major housing developments in Claremorris and Ballyhaunis has been rejected by council planners, a situation described by a local elected representative as 'devastating'.

A project for 60 apartments at Kilcolman Road, Claremorris, another for 25 units at James Street, Claremorris, and a third proposal for 36 houses at Hazelhill in Ballyhaunis have been refused planning permission.

Developer Harold Conway sought to construct 60 apartments in two five-storey buildings on a site near Lidl in Claremorris.

Reasons for refusal cited by Mayo County Council included inappropriate density, visual intrusion, and an inadequate mix of building heights and typologies for a local urban context.

EMW Developments Ltd. are behind the 25-unit proposal on Lower James Street in the town, which was for a mix of two semi-detached bungalows and 23 two-storey houses in 3/4 unit terraced blocks.

There was some local concern expressed to planners about congestion and access difficulties, with the junction with James Street already backed up.

Developer Shay Gillen applied for approval for the Ballyhaunis development, comprising 36 houses - four four-bed self-build detached units, 18 three-bed semi-detached houses and 14 two-bed semi-detached houses.

Documentation submitted to planners on behalf of the developer of the Ballyhaunis site said the project would supply a sustainable mix of units to meet local housing demands, with high quality homes in an attractive layout, offering a good social mix of units which would appeal to the majority of the market.

There are currently 370 people on the housing waiting list in the town of Claremorris alone.

A scheme of 20 houses, undertaken by Mayo County Council, is due to be completed on the Knock Road shortly.

Local Councillor Richard Finn, an auctioneer by profession, said planning refusals are undermining sustained community efforts to attract investment to the area.

He commented: “We should not have to be fighting these kinds of obstacles.

“But I would advise the developers of the refused housing projects to immediately appeal to An Bord Pleanála. The Lidl supermarket chain did so and now they have a fine store in Claremorris - and rightly so.

“Every effort was made during the drafting of the new development plan to establish Claremorris as a central growth area, but we were told we were not allowed to do so. The town is being starved of opportunities to develop and that's wrong. This latest news is nothing short of devastating.”

Councillor Tom Connolly said the refusal of 121 new homes in the area had the potential to send out the wrong message to investors. He was not aware of all the facts as councillors are no longer consulted or have any input on planning matters.

However, he expressed disappointment that successive governments had failed to tackle the housing problems despite many initiatives and strategies being rolled out over the past number of years.

The refusals will be raised at today's meeting of the Claremorris Municipal District.