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Mixed reaction after refusal of Port Road development

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By Sean Moriarty

Residents living in the Port Road area believe that An Bórd Pleanála’s decision to refuse planning permission for a large scale development in the area is a “smokescreen” and is “an easy avenue for the developer to appeal”.

Portal Asset Holdings want to build 228 residential units consisting of 76 houses and 152 apartments, crèche and all associated site works between Port Road and St Margaret’s Road.

The project has not been widely welcomed by residents or elected members of Killarney Municipal District despite a chronic housing shortage in the town.

Last week, An Bórd Pleanála refused planning permission for the development as it felt that construction works would interfere with a colony of Lesser Horseshoe Bats in the area.  

However, a survey conducted by the Killarney Advertiser found that the majority of Killarney people are in favour of the development and that the needs of the people should take precedence over the well-being of bats.

OBJECTIONS

Residents of the Millwood area made 50 different complaints to An Bórd Pleanála after previously raising concerns in April of this year when the planning application was first lodged.

Some issues included a folly stream that will drain directly from the new development into the Lakes of Killarney, additional traffic congestion in an already heavily congested area, poor flood risk assessment and concerns over tampering with the highly invasive Japanese knotweed.

They say their concerns were completely overlooked and that the decision to refuse planning will be easily overturned in an appeal.

“This [the bats] is a smoke screen, the reason for refusal is very weak and provides an easy avenue for the developer to appeal. They will only have to argue one reason to push through the development as opposed to addressing the inaccuracies in the application and fundamental issues that are long-standing in Killarney like traffic on Port Road and protecting the National Park,” said a statement by Millwood Residents Association issued to the Killarney Advertiser.

“As residents, there are other valid factors that should be addressed or dealt with in more detail in the 109 page inspector’s report. They merely gave tokenism to the concerns of the people who live adjacent to the site and the community at large who know the area, a better onsite assessment should be undertaken and engagement with the park people.”

HOUSING SHORTAGE

The lack of available housing is a huge issue in Killarney, two years ago the town was declared a Rent Pressure Zone and earlier this year Kerry County Council clamped down on operators of short term rental properties aimed at tourists in an effort to free up units for residents and workers.

“I am totally at a loss to understand the thinking behind this latest outrageous decision by An Bord Pleanála. We are in the middle of a massive housing crisis. Killarney is a Rent Pressure Zone and Kerry as a whole is crying out for more housing,” Kerry County Councillor Michael Cahill told the Killarney Advertiser.

“I have warned before that An Bórd Pleanála is not fit for purpose and I am now calling on the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Housing to disband An Bórd Pleanála immediately and review this decision on behalf of the people of Kerry and ensure fair play for all. This housing crisis will never be solved if we are to be ruled by people who do not understand the needs of their fellow human beings.”

Before the issue was referred to An Bórd Pleanála residents of the Port Road area were opposed to the development. They believe that a project of this size is not suitable for many reasons. They say that the development is oversized and out of character with the area, that the proposed pedestrian access to Millwood Estate would create a security risk for existing residents, that the already congested Port Road will face further congestion from new traffic, and a number of single-storey dwellings in Millwood will be faced with large two storey dwellings overlooking them, leading to a loss of privacy.

The development also caused anger at the May meeting of the Killarney Municipal District meeting.
At that time Kerry County Council recommended that planning permission be granted for the controversial development on Port Road despite widespread objections from elected councillors.

Senior planner Damien Ginty gave a presentation on various issues and concerns connected with the application at the May meeting.

The 30-page report outlined the pros and cons on why the development should or should not go ahead.

“The proposed development provides a mix of housing sizes and types to facilitate a wide demographic of housing need, but in particular provides an increased number of small units which typifies housing demand in Killarney and the surrounding area,” stated the report. “It is recommended that permission be granted for the proposed development.”

Mr Ginty’s report was met with anger from all seven elected councillors. They were unanimous in their calls that such a large development should not go ahead in the area.
And while they all admitted that Killarney urgently needs more houses they felt that there were too many local issues to allow this particular development go ahead in its current format.

SURVEY

As a follow up the Killarney Advertiser surveyed readers and asked: “Do you agree with An Bórd Pleanála refusing planning permission for 228 units off Park Road?”

A total of 75.41 percent of respondents disagreed with the decision while the remaining 24.51 percent backed the decision.

Last week’s news story attracted a lot of attention on the Killarney Advertiser’s social media channels.

“I have a relatively new build in Glenflesk, the bats come out at night, swoop and dive around the house, having a field day. No doubt with the insects drawn by the light, they don’t bother me, I don’t bother them, we coexist just fine,” said one commentator. “You’d hardly know the bats are there. They’ll have to go back to the drawing board, the proposed development should have been vastly reduced in size because of infrastructural reasons anyway.”

Another reader said: “Solving the housing crisis should be the number one priority for our county and country - not giving in to green fanaticism. This is a crazy decision.” A third added:
"Maybe the size was out of scale and a solution could have been found. But let’s not hear crocodile tears from anyone involved in this decision re ‘the housing crisis’.”

A SECOND DEVELOPMENT

Meanwhile, in August a separate developer was granted planning permission for a three-story apartment block and 10 houses on a site adjacent to Portal Asset Holdings’ site and that the latter developer has objected to the second development as they feel it is too close to their proposed development on their land.

“This is the pot calling the kettle black,” said one Millwood resident.

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Efforts to find owner of designer jewellery found in Fossa

A Killarney resident is trying to find the owner of a designer ring that she found outside her house a few months ago. Kristy Nicholas, pictured, found the ring on […]

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A Killarney resident is trying to find the owner of a designer ring that she found outside her house a few months ago.

Kristy Nicholas, pictured, found the ring on s footpath in the Lackabane Estate in Fossa on December 29 last.

Since then she has exhausted all channels in an effort to find the owner including regular contact with the Gardai and local word of mouth.

“Since that time I worked to find the owner through word of mouth and by filing a report with Gardai. Since I’ve been unsuccessful,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

“The owner could ring the Killarney Gardai station and provide details to be connected with me. To be reunited a description will be needed, such as the brand and designer and type of ring It’s quite an expensive ring so I’m really hoping to get it back to the right place.”

Kristy can be contacted on 087 3443500

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The Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder on New Street is adding another string to its bow and as well as offering whiskey tasting sessions the popular bar is set to become a wine lovers paradise.

The bar is launching a Wine Wednesday and Sunday experience.Every Wednesday and Sunday, with a full wine menu available, offering a delightful selection ranging from fizz to rich reds and delicate rosés. Whether you’re a seasoned sommelier or just beginning to explore the world of wine, there’s something for everyone to savour.“Step into the cosy establishment nestled in the heart of Killarney and prepare to embark on a journey through vineyards and varietals, all at heavily discounted prices that won’t break the bank,” said the bar in a statement.“And the best part? Bottles start from just €20, making indulgence accessible to all.”Each week, the bar will be showcasing special wines available by the glass to  complement a delectable menu offerings.“The perfect pairing with their new and updated menu. The perfect spot for some casual drinks and dinner. Treat yourself to cheeseboards, chowder or any of the tasting offerings the new menu has to offer. Whatever your preference, their knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through our extensive wine selection, offering expert recommendations and ensuring that each sip is nothing short of perfection,” added the statement.

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