Carraroe houses plan by Westlife star shot down but...
A Special ReportA HOUSING
development plan close to the outskirts of Sligo town by Westlife singing star Shane Filan and his brother Finbar has been struck down on appeal.
Pleanala adjudged the location to be "peripheral" and in conflict with the Core Strategy of the Sligo Borough Council's Development Plan, SligoToday.ie
The absence of public sewerage facilities and serious injury to the visual amenties of the area were other reasons given by Pleanala.
However, it could seem that Pleanala has left the door swinging wide open for a future housing proposal of "limited scale" on the site, which is officially described by Pleanala as three kilometres from Sligo town centre.
An interesting ''note'' is added on behalf of the Board members of Pleanala, in what is officially being described as a ''split'' of its decision.
Its Board Direction, signed off by Bord Pleanala member Paddy Keogh states: "The Board differentiated between the two northern portions of the site."It was considered," said Mr Keogh, "that limited scale residential development might be satisfactorily accommodated in a manner that would consolidate the existing pattern of development......"
On the southern side of the site, noted Mr Keogh, "it was considered the development potential is severely constrained by reason of the presence of a turlough."
A turlough is a disappearing lake often found in limestone areas and notably so west of the Shannon.
The appeal decision and documentation was published online by Bord Pleanala yesterday evening (Thursday).
The appeal on the Carraroe site took a year and two days, the online record confirms.
The Board's decision was made at a meeting on October 16th last and its Order was signed off ten days later.Pleanala decisions are final and may only be challenged by seeking leave for judicial review in the High Court.
The Pleanala Board members considered a 35 page report at its meeting on October 16th last. See link below.
The report was prepared and written by Pleanala Inspector Siobhan Carroll, who visited the Carraroe site last December.
Her report confirms there had been an unauthorised development at the Carraroe site in the past -- a claim which featured in some residents submissions last year.
Shafin hired a specialist Dublin consultancy to make its presentation to Pleanala after it lodged its appeal 12 months ago.The firm, Cunnane Stratton Reynolds argued, said a Pleanala summary: ''It is the applicants opinion that the appeal site is located on the periphery of the town but is connected to it.''
This appears to have been a response to the Sligo and Environs Development Plan (SEDP) 2010-2016 which has a pledge to ''.....counteract tendencies towards extensive urban sprawl in the immediate environs of Sligo.''
Although Sligo County Council (rightly) made the original planning decision on the Filan brothers' proposal, the Borough Council's SEDP is the statutory Development Plan for the area, the Pleanala Inspector confirms.
Connected By Thread
The Shafin appeal to Pleanala additionally noted: "The appeal site is connected by a thread of development stretching from Carraroe through developments at the townlands of Tullynagracken, Caltragh and Cornageeha travelling north towards Sligo town centre."
The consultants submission for Shafin also examined occupancy at estates, which it selected as Rose Hill and Kevinsfort in Sligo, with 41 and 97 houses respectively.
It said: "The vacancy rate for for detached housing developments in the town is 2.5% and not 9% as stated by the County Council."Eleven Concerns
The 7.5 hectare site in Carraroe is owned by Peter and Mary Filan, according to Sligo County Council online records earlier this morning.
Local residents and business interests opposed the original plan, according to objections filed with the planning authority, Sligo County Council, in 2011.
Objectors to various parts of the original plan included Bob Roemer, Gerry McGonigle, Sean Gillen, Joe Feeney and Joseph Henry.
A lengthy objection was also sent to the Council by Tony Marren on behalf of himself and residents at Tullynagracken South.
Residents separately commissioned a detailed study and formal objection from Jennings O'Donovan and Partners.
Eleven concerns of residents were identified, according to the Pleanala Inspector's summary. The key concerns raised were flooding and sewerage.Unacceptable Risk
Sligo County Council had shot down the Filans plan with a refusal in September 2011 to allow demolition of a stables and the building of 42 houses.
In its decision, the Council had cited an ''unacceptable risk'' of flooding and noted there was a history of ''significant'' flooding at the site.
Access was planned off the Ballygawley Road and the Carraroe/Ballisodare Road to the 42 houses -- two storey with four bedrooms each.
The proposal was made in name of Shafin Developments - the company name derived from the names Shane/Finbar.
A number of State agencies, entitled in law to be consulted prior to a decision, opposed the plan for the 42 houses.
These included Failte Ireland and the Office of Public Works, while An Taisce is described as an ''observer'' in the Pleanala Inspector's Report. International Fame
Shane Filan and Westlife achieved widespread international fame from a Sligo town base towards the end of the 20th century.
Westlife, for instances, surpassed the Beatles decades-old record when it came to number one singles in the UK charts.
He and his brother, Finbar, were involved in a significant number of property development proposals in Sligo and North Leitrim.
These developments included housing, nursing homes and hotels. Residents objected to several proposals.Small Number
Finbar Filan was one of small number of business people who sat in the public gallery when Sligo Borough Council debated aspects of the Sligo & Environs Development Plan (SEDP) 2010-2016.Ironically, the terms of that Development Plan are now cited against the plans he and brother Shane brought forward.
Meanwhile, the Filans and also Shafin Developments remain listed as defendant in a number of High Court civil claims, online records confirm.
These records were "last updated at close of business" for the High Court on November 1st 2012 and include a claim against Shafin by local architect Vincent Hannon & Associates. (Case ref 2012/1779 S).
Mr Hannon told the Irish Mail on Sunday last May that the amount involved was "substantial."