Parents fury over planning proposal near school

A PLANNING controversy is erupting over the proposed development of a four-storey glass building in the heart of Georgian Limerick.

Architect Michael Healy, who also designed JP McManus’s €100 million mansion, is at the centre of the planning row between the Church of Ireland and a city centre school.

The Limerick-based architect has submitted plans for a new architect’s studio on a site owned by the Church of Ireland.

But the parents of the 102 children attending the nearby St Michael’s Church of Ireland National School, which is located near the park entrance, are furious over the new proposal submitted by Mr Healy.

The school parent/teacher committee has called an emergency general meeting tomorrow night to draw up a plan of action to oppose the plans.

Parents warned the proposed development would compromise the privacy of the school and was out of character with the wider Georgian Pery Square area.

The design plans show the building sited next to St Michael’s Church of Ireland, which is more than 170 years old.

Dr Gareth Cox, chairman of the parent/teacher association, said they are vehemently opposed to any development of the site.

“Our main concern,” said Dr Cox, “is that the proposed structure would close off light to the school building. At the moment the children can look out at trees but this view would all be cut off.”

Dr Cox said the Church of Ireland St Michael’s vestry had invited Mr Healy to submit a plan for a proposed building on the site.

The planning application, he said, described the site as ‘school ground’.

He said the Dean of Limerick, Rev Maurice Sirr, had not told the school body that the church had been in contact with Mr Healy and a decision taken to ask him to draw up a plan for the site.

Dr Cox said: “We are now asking Dean Sirr to object, to the city council, for what is proposed for the site. We also will be asking individual parents to lodge objections.”

Mr Healy proposes to build a gallery/office/commercial unit on the ground and lower ground floors along with an architectural studio on the first floor and second mezzanine floor level.

Dean Sirr said there was a mixed reaction when the plans were shown to parents and teachers at St Michael’s school.

He said people tend to fear new development.

Mr Healy, meanwhile, said he wanted to be associated with an appropriate building which would be carefully and sensitively designed for the site.

It is the second major planning controversy within a year on land adjacent to the People’s Park in Pery Square.

Last year, the manner in which Limerick City Council disposed of a site within the park boundary to allow an apartment block development provoked public outrage.

Lord Limerick, who signed over the site to the council, had condemned the manner in which the council acted.

A decision on Mr Healy’s planning application is due from Limerick City Council on February 20.

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