Plans to demolish a former convent building to make way for an extension to a supermarket car park in the west Cork town of Castletownbere have been rejected.
ála rejected an appeal by the owners of Murphy’s SuperValu store in the town against the decision of Cork County Council to refuse planning permission for the proposed development to add 27 extra car park spaces to its existing facility.
The board said the provision of additional surface car park spaces did not provide sufficient justification for the demolition of the 19th century, three-storey convent.
It noted the convent, which was built around 1880, is classified in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as a building of regional importance which is “of architectural, artistic and social special interest". The board also highlighted how it is an objective of the Cork County Development Plan to consider all buildings listed in the NIAH for inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures.
While council planners acknowledged that the provision of extra parking spaces would address problems with a shortage of car parking facilities in, they still recommended a refusal of planning permission.
The convent was most recently used as a hostel until its closure in 2014 but is currently in a state of disrepair with a large number of broken windows and some structural damage.
A planning inspector said there was also evidence of waste associated with anti-social behaviour.
The supermarket owners said they had tried to keep the building in use by renting it as a hostel but it was unprofitable.
They claimed the former convent did not contribute to the architectural or artistic views of the town centre and was becoming a distraction to the adjoining Church of the Sacred Heart, while also being used as a rat-run which raised insurance concerns.
The supermarket claimed the local community had no issue with the demolition of the building and the redevelopment of the area as well as claiming its removal would provide “a better shopping experience for customers.” However, an inspector withála said the convent’s demolition would “undermine and erode the historical complex of religious structures at this location.”