A property development firm has secured approval from An Bord Pleanála for a new housing project in Passage West, despite the plans originally being refused planning permission by Cork County Council.
Montip Horizon has successfully appealed the council’s decision to get the green light for the development of 23 apartments and nine houses on an elevated site overlooking the town even though the board’s own planning inspector had also recommended it should not be allowed to go ahead.
The housing scheme, which will be located between two existing residential developments, Mariner’s View and Highlands, was also opposed by several local residents including the Highlands Residents Association as well as Fianna Fáil councillor, Séamus McGrath.
Montip Horizon, which is owned by Cork businesswoman, Virginia Cantillon, submitted revised plans to An Bord Pleanála which saw the original number of apartments reduced from 31 to 23 as a result of the company’s decision to remove one storey from the proposed five-storey apartment block.
The developer also reduced the number of proposed car park spaces and increased the amount of public open space.
Subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions, An Bord Pleanála said the proposed development would be acceptable in terms of urban design, height and size.
The board also said it was satisfied that the development would not seriously injure the visual and scenic amenities of the area and that it would also be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety.
An Bord Pleanála said it disagreed with the view of its own inspector that Montip Horizon’s plans constituted “a substandard form of development which would seriously injure the amenities of the area.” Cork County Council had refused planning permission for the project because it believed the plans failed to provide “an adequate design response” to the site’s elevated and exposed hillside location, although it accepted the principle of development on the lands.
Council planners said it would seriously detract from the scenic views over Cork Harbour and the River Lee and would give rise to “an incongruous feature” that would “break the skyline and not fit appropriately into the landscape.” They also claimed it would seriously injure the amenities of existing residents in the area and depreciate the value of their properties.
Cllr McGrath said the development was out of character with existing housing developments in the area and would have an overbearing impact on neighbouring homes.
He also said the scale, form and height of the development was “inappropriate”, while its adverse visual impact would be “unacceptable”.
Montip Horizon said it took exception to the council’s critique of its plans and claimed the site was capable of absorbing the proposed development without being detrimental to views in the area.
The company claimed its decision to lower the height of the apartment block meant the building would not break the skyline.
It also took issue with the council’s comments about the quality of proposed public open space which it claimed were “misplaced”.
Montip Horizon is also co-developer of the €140m development of 413 homes on Jacob’s Island near Mahon Point in Cork which includes a landmark 25-storey tower.