Locals object to expansion plans for Killarney creche

The Montessori School on Countess Road, Killarney. Photo: Don MacMonagle

The owners of a large childcare facility near Killarney’s town centre have clashed with local residents over their plans for an expansion of the facility.

Locals living near the Montessori House of Children on Countess Rd, Killarney, have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the recent decision of Kerry Co Council to grant retention permission for an increased number of children and longer opening hours at the creche.

It is the latest chapter in a long-running legal battle between the owners of the creche, Seán Buckley and Carol Dempsey, and residents over the use of the house, Bradgate, as a childcare facility.

Last year, the planning appeals authority blocked the planned expansion of the facility, which had been approved by Kerry County Council, following objections by Countess Rd residents.

Montessori House of Children had applied to increase the number of children it cared for, extend opening hours and move the creche to a bigger adjoining property, also owned by Mr Buckley and Ms Dempsey.

However, An Bord Pleanála upheld the challenge of local residents and ruled the plans by the creche’s owners would seriously injure the amenities of other properties in the area due to excessive noise, on-street parking and traffic, as well as endangering public safety.

Under the latest proposal, the creche wants to secure retention permission for having increased the number of children permitted from 15 to 35 as well as extending opening hours from 8am-2pm to 6pm.

It said conditions imposed relating to the number of children and hours of operation in the original grant of planning permission in 1993 were “antiquated” and “no longer relevant”.

The creche said it has reduced the proposed scale of the facility in response to last year’s decision to refuse planning for a larger project.

The creche said it no longer had plans to use the neighbouring property to accommodate the nursery, while it had introduced staggered drop-off and pick-up times, to reduce traffic during the peak period of 8.45am-9.15am by 50%.

It has received support from a number of groups, including the Irish Wheelchair Association, the Killarney Immigrant Support Centre, and Fossa National School, parents of several children with special needs and some local residents. However, objectors claimed that accommodating increased numbers in the premises was unsustainable and would create a traffic hazard.

They also argued that staggered drop-off and pick-up times were unenforceable.

Some objectors also called on the council to take enforcement proceedings to ensure the creche complied with existing planning conditions and warned they would take High Court proceedings, if necessary, to ensure compliance. A ruling in the case by An Bord Pleanála is expected by mid-July.

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