Brakes put on firm’s use of Cork GAA grounds as car park

A building facilities company has been told planning permission needs to be obtained for it to continue using the grounds of a GAA club in Cork city as a car park for its staff.

An Bord Pleanála has ruled that use by Park Facilities Management of the grounds of St Michael’s GAA club in Mahon for staff parking is unauthorised and not an exempted development under planning legislation.

The firm, which is based at the nearby City Gate business park in Mahon, is a sponsor of St Michael’s.

Cork City Council had referred the issue to the planning appeals authority for a determination after being asked by the company if its use of the sportsground for parking constituted a planning development.

Park Facilities Management, a division of property management group JCD argued that there was no condition made about the use of the car park when planning permission for St Michael’s clubhouse was granted in 2005.

The company pointed out that the car park, which has around 173 parking spaces, was not used for commercial gain and was not used by the public.

Park Facilities Management said the car park had also been used to facilitate the council’s mobile library or extra parking space for people attending funerals at the nearby St Michael’s Cemetery.

“These were not deemed to be breaches of planning or change of use,” the company said. “Therefore, it is a reasonable expectation that use of this car park by its sponsors would not be an issue.”

The company also warned that if the council pursued the issue, it would have a negative impact on the commercial attractiveness of the city to foreign investors.

The company, which was supported in its view by St Michael’s, said there were numerous sites around the city with comparable parking situations that would require “equitable treatment and control”. Cork City Council said it was not reasonable to suggest the company’s use of the GAA grounds as a car park for remote parking for its staff was linked to the activities of the club.

“It cannot be characterised as minor or trivial,” the council said.

“The fact that the use is on behalf of a sponsor of the club and that the club is a charitable organisation is immaterial in planning terms.”

The council said it did not use the GAA club as an overflow car park for funerals and its mobile library services had ceased in 2014.

An Bord Pleanála said the current use of the club’s car park was “clearly in no way associated with the use of the sports grounds”. It said the car park now carried out “two entirely different functions” including serving nearby businesses during office hours.

A planning inspector disagreed with the contention by Park Facilities Management that the use of the car park had no impact on traffic in the area.

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