The owner of one of Ireland’s most visited tourist attractions, Blarney Castle in Cork, has stalled plans for a planned 120-bed nursing home and 29 detached houses.
Last month, Cork County Council gave the go-ahead to Hydro Estates Ltd for the nursing home and 25 of the planned houses at St Ann’s Hill, Kilnamucky, Tower, Blarney. The nursing home is to be built on the site of the former St Ann’s Hydropathic Establishment.
However, the plans are now on hold with Blarney Castle owner, Sir Charles Colthurst lodging an appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the decision.
Last year, Blarney Castle featured in the top 10 fee-paying attractions with 460,000 visitors.
Planning consultants acting for Sir Colthurst, McCutcheon Halley, claim that the proposed development “will have a significant negative visual impact" on Blarney Castle. The planning consultants for Sir Colthurst point out that Blarney Castle is a protected structure and attracts almost 500,000 people annually, most of whom are international tourists.
The appeal states: “Most visitors to Blarney climb to the top of the Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone and are afforded 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. The Castle’s value as a national tourism asset is intrinsically linked with views from the top of the castle, making the protected structure visually sensitive.”
McCutcheon Halley state that: "The view to the west towards Tower Village and the proposed development is significant as it is the main view for tourists as they wait in line to kiss the stone. The site of the proposed development forms an important and significant element of the view to the west."
The appeal states that Blarney Castle is a visually sensitive protected structure and is of national importance in terms of Ireland’s tourism economy. It adds that the landscape setting and ‘viewshed' of Blarney Castle are key elements to its intrinsic value.
The appeal states that the proposed development at St Ann's Hill will have a significant negative visual impact on the castle and is not consistent with the Special Policy Area Objective to allow ‘small scale’ residential development and to ensure that the special and unique character of the site is conserved and enhanced.
The Cork County Council decision giving the plan the go-ahead stated that the development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area and would be in accordance with the proper planning and development of the area.
A decision is due on the appeal in January.