'Shock and disapointment': An Bord Pleanála grants permission for controversial development in Cork against wishes of councillors 

'Shock and disapointment': An Bord Pleanála grants permission for controversial development in Cork against wishes of councillors 

Concerns have been raised about the powers of An Bord Pleanála after it gave the green light to a controversial proposed housing development in a Cork City suburb.

Concerns have been raised about the powers of An Bord Pleanála after it gave the green light to a controversial proposed housing development in a Cork City suburb.

The development of apartments off the Cherry Lawn estate in Blackrock was the subject of an unsuccessful material contravention vote in City Hall earlier this year.

However, An Bord Pleanála has now said the change, which was proposed for land zoned for sporting use, would be justified and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience.

They also say that the development would not seriously injure the character of the area, or diminish the function and usability of the sports’ ground. In January, residents from Blackrock applauded councillors as all but one voted against a material contravention, which would have paved the way for 30 extra apartments off the estate.

A material contravention is needed when a planning application may not necessarily comply with the objectives of the city development plan for proper development and planning of an area.

Blackrock Hurling Club, which is behind the plans, subsequently lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála. The board has gone against the councillors’ vote and said the development can go ahead with 17 conditions attached.

The development will see six one-bed units and 24 two-bed units constructed in a four-storey apartment building.

Local Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill, who is on the Friends of the Rockies fund-raising committee at Blackrock Hurling Club, said the club can now wait and decide whether it wants to proceed with the development.

“I think they recognise there was a lot of local opposition to it,” he said. “It will give them a bit of time to reflect.”

He hit out at An Bord Pleanála.

“Whatever the board wants, they seem to get,” he said. “That is very frustrating. But it’s only consistent with every other one.”

He said other applications which were voted against by Cork City councillors and appealed to An Bord Pleanála were subsequently green-lit.

Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy also raised his concerns about the process and said councillors representing the people on the ground have been ignored.

“We took the decision to vote it down, so how come An Bord Pleanála can overturn a material contravention?” he said. “It sets a huge precedent.

“There’s a lot of shock and disappointment in the Church Rd area. There’s a context that has to be given as well. There is a lot of pent-up frustration between local residents and the club over a number of years.”

Mr McCarthy said his main issue is not with the club, but with the loss of another green space in the city.

“More clubs could go down the same route,” he said. “This ruling has turned things on their head. Now you just don’t know anymore if a material contravention will stand.

“I have a lot of concerns with the powers An Bord Pleanála actually have.”

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