Planning board under fire for delaying decision on Waterford student housing

Planning for five-storey block refused last year and no decision has been made on appeal due to backlog of cases
Planning board under fire for delaying decision on Waterford student housing

Accommodation has been an issue for students at South East Technological University on the Cork Road, Waterford. Picture: Dan Linehan

An Bord Pleanála has been criticised for delaying a decision on a planning appeal regarding a proposed five-storey block of student apartments on the outskirts of Waterford city.

The planning board blamed the delay on a backlog of cases

Late last year, Waterford City and County Council refused permission for the demolition of an existing bungalow and the construction of the 94-bed development on the site at the Lacken Road in Kilbarry, Waterford city.

The decision was heralded at the time as a huge victory for local residents.

However, a decision on a subsequent planning appeal, lodged with An Bord Pleanála by the developer Tony Robinson, was due on January 26.

An Bord Pleanála issued correspondence in respect to the appeal stating: “It is a statutory objective of the board to ensure that every appeal received is determined within 18 weeks beginning on the date of receipt of that appeal…”

However, the board served notice that it was not possible to determine the case within the statutory objective period due to a backlog in cases.

“The board now intends to determine the appeal before April 18. The board will take all such steps as are open to it to ensure that the appeal is determined before that date,” the letter stated.

Local Independent Cllr Joe Kelly expressed disappointment over the delay. 

People have been waiting long enough for this decision," he said.

It is causing stress and strain on the residents because they are worried about it.

"It is disappointing that An Bord Pleanála wasn’t able to complete their statutory duties. I feel they are letting down the residents of the area."

In reaching the decision to refuse permission for the block of student apartments, Waterford Council planners felt the development would constitute an “over-dominating presence” in an otherwise residential area and give rise to overlooking and a loss of privacy.

It was considered that it would be out of scale with its surroundings, would fail to make a positive contribution to the urban neighbourhood and streetscape, and would be contrary to policy objectives.

The developer also sought to enclose a section of the land designated open space to provide surface car parking.

Furthermore, the planners felt that it would seriously detract from the residential amenities of the area and depreciate the value of property in the vicinity.

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