Cork councillor anger after planning decision for Blackrock apartments overturned

A development of 30 apartments on the southside of Cork city is set to proceed after An Bord Pleanála overruled a decision by members of Cork City Council to oppose it.
Cork councillor anger after planning decision for Blackrock apartments overturned
Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy

A development of 30 apartments on the southside of Cork city is set to proceed after An Bord Pleanála overruled a decision by members of Cork City Council to oppose it.

It has been described as "shocking" and "a huge precedent", which could see many other local authority decisions overruled.

Blackrock Hurling Club has been given conditional planning permission for the scheme of 30 apartments and 38 car parking spaces on lands off Cherry Lawn, Church Road in Blackrock.

It comes on foot of an appeal by the club, lodged after city councillors shot down the proposal in January.

The land in question was zoned for sports use under the Cork City Development Plan.

As such, the housing plan required a material contravention vote by the elected members of Cork City Council to change the Cork City Development Plan to allow the land to be used for housing.

However, the councillors opposed the scheme, voting against it by 26 votes to 1.

As such, city planners subsequently rejected the planning application. The developers appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanála, with the board now approving it.

In making its determination, the board said the material contravention was justified due to the government's policy "to ramp up delivery of its housing".

It noted policies in the National Planning Framework and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region which prioritise population growth in existing cities.

Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy is among the 26 councillors who voted against the material contravention in January.

He raised concerns that An Bord Pleanála overruling this decision is eroding the powers of local authorities.

He said it is "shocking" that the Cork City Council vote is not even mentioned in the An Bord Pleanála decision report.

"It's like our legal powers don't even matter and are being dismissed," he said.

"It's not an ordinary appeal to a planning decision of council planners; it's an appeal to rescind elected members' votes.

"This sets a huge precedent: every green space is now under threat in my eyes and every councillor decision can be up-ended. This is very worrying".

The development is subject to some 17 conditions, including a requirement to retain the open space elements of the plan and to appoint a management company to run the scheme in future.

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