140 Blarney homes approved

Plan for almost 140 homes in Blarney have been approved despite council recommendation for rejection. The proposed development at Monacnapa, which has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála, comprises of 105 houses and 32 apartments. According to Sean McCarthaigh in the Irish Examiner, “A new development of almost 140 homes on the outskirts of Blarney has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála, despite a recommendation by Cork City Council that planning permission should be refused because it would create an “unacceptable” risk in terms of road safety. The board has approved plans for 105 houses and 32 apartments together with the demolition of existing buildings on a 7.8-hectare site at Monacnapa on the north-west side of Blarney under the fast-track planning process for strategic housing developments. The new housing estate planned by developer, Eoin Sheehan, will be accessed by Sunberry Heights and Sunberry Drive off the Blarney Relief Road. In its ruling, the board said the proposed development would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area or other properties. It said the plans were also acceptable in terms of road safety and convenience. However, it ordered the developer to omit two apartment blocks containing six housing units from its original plans to construct 38 apartments in buildings up to three storeys in height. The board said the location of the two blocks, as well as their internal layout, would result in a substandard form of residential amenity for occupants. Cork City Council had recommended that the project should be refused planning permission on the basis that its proposed density of 35 housing units per hectare was in breach of the county development plan. Council planners also expressed concern that the development would give rise to a serious traffic hazard and would create “an unacceptable risk.” A report by an inspector with An Bord Pleanála acknowledged the council’s concerns about road safety issues, but said the developer had demonstrated that traffic volumes would not be increased significantly by the proposed development. As the site was zoned for residential development and the access options must have formed a consideration in the original zoning, the inspector said “a solution must be possible if this site is to be developed.” “There is nothing inherent in the design that would create a traffic hazard,” the inspector said. Subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions, the board said the development was also acceptable in terms of quantum and density for an accessible urban location. It acknowledged that approving the project would represent a material contravention of the existing Cork County Development Plan (although the site now comes under the control of Cork City Council following local authority boundary changes) as well as the local area plan for Blarney on grounds of density. However, the board said the development could be justified because of the strategic nature of the site for the delivery of housing in Blarney and national policy on promoting compact growth. A total of 30 third-party submissions about the development were made to An Bord Pleanála including ones from a local residents’ group and Cork North Central TD, Mick Barry, and his council colleague, Fiona Ryan. Many submissions highlighted how the latest plans are practically identical to similar planning applications which had been rejected by An Bord Pleanála in 2020. Residents of Sunberry Drive and Sunberry Heights also expressed concern that the existing road infrastructure in the area was inadequate to cater for the new development. However, the project received support for four parties who welcomed the development given the massive shortage of new houses being built in Blarney.