Future of Killarney attraction in doubt

The future of a tourist attraction in Killarney is uncertain after its owners failed to secure planning permission for the venue.

Future of Killarney attraction in doubt

The future of a tourist attraction in Killarney is uncertain after its owners failed to secure planning permission for the venue.

Celtic Steps, an award-winning Irish music, song, and dance extravaganza staged at Killarney Racecourse between April and October, may have to seek an alternative home after An Bord Pleanála rejected its application for retrospective planning permission.

The board turned down an appeal by the Killarney Race Company, owners of the racecourse, against the decision of Kerry County Council to refuse it retention permission for the unauthorised use of a building at the racecourse on Ross Rd in the town for staging concerts and other events.

Celtic Steps, which runs another show in the Brandon Conference in Tralee between May and September, has been operating from the Killarney Racecourse since 2015. Up to 400 people attend each performance, staged Sunday to Friday during an extended summer season.

During the winter months, the venue hosts a range of other events including conferences, fashion shows, and school concerts.

Locals had complained the venue generates high levels of noise, with some events staged at the raceecourse, such as summer parties, not finishing until 1.45am. They also claimed it was having an adverse impact on wildlife in Killarney National Park. They argued Killarney had enough entertainment venues, including the INEC, and another out-of-town venue was “unnecessary”.

Kerry County Council had refused the company retention permission on grounds that it was not satisfied the entertainment facility would not cause noise pollution.

Council planners ruled the venue was seriously injuring the amenities of local residents and depreciating the value of their properties.

Killarney Race Company had indicated that in future, all events would finish no later than midnight.

The company promised to take remedial action on noise from the venue but planners noted levels were “higher than desirable” even when no performance was taking place and no audience was present.

In its appeal, Killarney Race Company said the issue of noise had never been raised in its pre-application discussions with Kerry County Council. It claimed the building would be upgraded to eliminate “noise breakout” and good management practice would ensure no noise pollution would arise in future.

An inspector with An Bord Pleanála said it was unlikely the building was designed to function as a live venue for shows.

Given the availability of a wide range of venues in Killarney for accommodating its proposed theatre-type use, she was not convinced it was the most suitable location for the proposed use.

The inspector said the staging of Celtic Steps and an unknown number of further live shows throughout the year represented “a considerable escalation of use”.

An Bord Pleanála agreed with the council’s view that retention of the use of the venue would seriously injure amenities of adjoining properties as a result of noise pollution and general disturbance. The board did not agree with its own inspector that the venue was causing a traffic hazard and increased disturbance to wildlife in Killarney National Park

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