An Bord Pleanála has overturned a council decision and granted planning for a housing association apartment scheme on a former school site in Cork.
The decision paves the way for Tuath Housing Association to demolish the buildings, which previously housed Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin in Coolroe on the western outskirts of Ballincollig until its relocation in 2012 to a new school building in Carriginarra, and for the construction of 21 apartments in a four-storey building on the site.
It also marks the end of a long-running planning saga on the vacant plot, which has seen planners reject apartment plans there several times - twice in 2017 and again in 2019.
Tuath Housing Association applied to Cork City Council last year for the demolition of the former school buildings, the removal of the roadside boundary wall and for the construction of a four-storey building with 23 units on the site on Inniscarra Road, which leads to the main entrance to the town’s Regional Park, close to Inniscarra Bridge.
The site, about 1.3 km from Ballincollig town centre, lies on the southern side of the Inniscarra Road and backs onto Westcourt housing estate.
City planners refused planning last summer, citing a variety of reasons, including the number of apartments proposed and the poor quality open space and poor access to the site.
Concerns were also raised about the height, scale, massing and overbearing impact of the building in its immediate context, the potential overshadowing of adjoining properties and the proposed amenity space. They claimed the proposal represented “overdevelopment of a restricted site” and would seriously injure the residential amenities of existing and future residents.
They also said given the lack of pedestrian infrastructure in the area, the size and scale of the project would result in “unsafe pedestrian passage and consequent traffic hazard” on Inniscarra Road.
The housing association appealed the decision, and presented revised plans as part of the appeal, including a reduction in the number of apartments from 23 to 21, a reduction in the footprint of the building, the omission of three-bed units and replacement with two-bed units to provide a mix of seven one-bed apartments and 14 two-bed units, internal alterations in terms of apartment layout and aspect, and improved communal facilities.
In her report, a senior planning inspector dealt with a number of observations from local residents who cited concerns about overdevelopment of the site, overlooking of property, its potential impact on traffic, fears about subsidence during construction, and other issues.
Huge credit due to @corkcitycouncil for trail blazing this innovative change of use from office to residential over recent years. We look forward to working with the City Council on delivering these 35 new social homes at Springville House #homes https://t.co/DLSwZq7Po9— Tuath Housing (@tuathhousing) December 7, 2020
But she said she considered the revised scheme as presented at appeal stage to be a more acceptable design solution and she recommended that this be considered for a favourable decision by the Board.
The board agreed and said the proposal would be acceptable in terms of height, scale, mass and density, would not seriously injure the visual amenities of the area and would not seriously injure the residential amenities of adjoining properties, would represent an appropriate design response to the site’s context and would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian, cyclist and traffic safety.
Respond Housing Association is developing another major housing scheme nearby, on a site opposite the White Horse pub.