Long-serving Killarney town Councillor Michael Courtney, Independent, described some of the modern buildings in the tourist mecca as being “like prison blocks”.
An Taisce also voiced concerns and highlighted the need to conserve the traditional architecture of Killarney, a town started by the local landlord family, the Brownes (Kenmares), in the mid-18th century.
The Killarney Town Development Plan 2009-2015 is being reviewed and dozens of submissions have been made.
An Taisce said high-rise development was not popular as it was not seen as being child-friendly and was out of scale with existing buildings.
An Taisce referred to a multi-storey building, encompassing offices and retail outlets, under construction at Tralee Road roundabout.
It said the building had been the subject of much adverse comment by local people because of its impact on the view.
The development plan should limit the height of buildings in Killarney, An Taisce suggested.
“Depending on location, most buildings should not exceed three to four stories,” it said.
Independent Councillor Michael Gleeson said Killarney was different to many other towns because views were so important.
“People come to Killarney because of the views and the spectacularly beautiful environment. Some of these prospects have been diminished over the past 20 years. At one time people walking down High Street had a wonderful view of Mangerton Mountain, and likewise with people coming into Killarney from the Tralee side.”
Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom Doherty criticised the design and materials used in some new buildings which, he claimed, were ugly and more in keeping with the 1970’s era.
Labour Councillor Sean O’Grady called for a cap on the height of buildings. “Buildings should be no higher than three to three-and-a-half storeys and should be in scale with some of the buildings that have been here for 150 years.”
Meanwhile, An Taisce has offered the services of its heritage officer, Ian Lumley, free of charge to help the council identify significant buildings that should be conserved.
The older streets of Killarney still retained much traditional architecture, and High Street, New Street, Main Street and Plunkett Street should be designated architectural conservation areas (ACAs), according to An Taisce.