Plans rejected for apartment development on site of former mother and baby home

An Bord Pleanála said it would be premature to grant planning permission before establishing whether the site had previously been used as a children's burial ground.
Plans rejected for apartment development on site of former mother and baby home

Planning permission has been refused for a 179-unit apartment development on the site of a former mother and baby home in Cork.

The permission was denied by An Bord Pleanála, stating it would be premature to grant planning permission to MWB Two to build the three apartment blocks on the Bessborough site before establishing the presence and extent of any burial site, according to the Irish Examiner.

The board stated it was not satisfied the site in the south-eastern corner of the Bessborough estate had not previously been used as a children's burial ground, following consideration of reports produced by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and information submitted during an oral hearing held last month.

Concern relating to the site's former use was raised due to the area being marked as 'children's burial ground' in historic maps.

This point was disputed by witnesses for MWB Two, however, an expert witness with over 46 years experience with OSi was called as a witness for the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (CSSA) and told the hearing such maps had been recognised as the gold-standard in court, adding he believes there is a children's burial ground on the site as indicated on the trace map.

In its decision, the board added there are reasonable concerns regarding the potential for a children's burial ground within the site given its past use as a mother and baby home between 1922-1998.

The proposal for three apartment blocks was one element of plans for a wider residential development called Gateway View, with Cork City Council also due to make a decision regarding the refusal to grant planning permission to a fourth apartment block on the same site.

The CSSA welcomed An Bord Pleanála's decision, but spokeperson Maureen Consider said it should not have come to this stage, calling on "those in power to step in and use compulsory purchase order legislation to protect and respect the children's burial ground at Bessborough".

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