Oral hearing to be held on plans for development at Bessborough; public encouraged to make submissions 

Oral hearing to be held on plans for development at Bessborough; public encouraged to make submissions 

An Bord Pleanála (ABP) has taken the decision to hold the hearing on plans for the site on April 21, with a decision due in May. 

An oral hearing is due to take place next month on the planning application for development on the site of the former Bessborough Mother and Baby Home.

An Bord Pleanála (ABP) is to hold the hearing on plans for the site on April 21, with a decision due in May. 

A planning application has been made under the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process, for planning for 179-apartments in three blocks on privately owned land on the former Bessborough estate. 

The agenda for the hearing will include a number of limited issues which are to be addressed by the applicants including further clarification on the areas which have been identified as a potential children’s burial ground and in particular the area north-west of the SHD.

ABP noted that the southern parts of three blocks may encroach onto the potential burial ground.

The applicant has been asked to “address the issue as to the viability/feasibility of the proposed development (in full or in part) were remains to be found within areas identified for development” and to provide clarification on how remains would be dealt with if they were to be discovered.

“And to consider whether there may be instances that development even if it were permitted in principle could not proceed, and in such instances, the legality/enforceability of any permission for the site.” 

Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has encouraged interested members of the public to attend online and make submissions.

He said that the history of the Bessborough site and its meaning to those who spent time there is “enormous and profoundly sensitive”.

“For many, the significance of Bessborough is not just relating to the past; many today are still seeking answers," he said. "This is a very insensitive proposal, and one which cannot go ahead.

Mr Ó Laoghaire said that he is hopeful that the oral hearing will give An Bord Pleanála the opportunity to hear “the pain and the anxiety that this application is causing” and encouraged those who feel that they can participate, to do so.

He noted that it is a limited agenda item but said that much of the issues to be raised are related to the site, the children’s burial ground and the issues that survivors and their relatives would be concerned by.

“I note the Minister for Children himself made a submission, and I would urge him and Government representatives to attend the hearing and to make the view of Government known,” he added.

ABP will make its decision on the application by 25 May 2021.

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