Cork County Council have refused to grant permission for the construction of 26 no. student hall accommodation scheme, including 194 bed spaces, at Loughbeg, Ringaskiddy, following further information submitted by the applicant.
Cork County Council, in June of last year, deemed that an insufficient amount of information had been provided as part of the initial application, lodged in April 2022. The case planner indicated that a revised design of proposals were required and to include a reduction in scale, so that the development was more aligned with the key policy objectives for Ringaskiddy. The planner stated that the scale proposed “is not considered an appropriate size for a town centre site in a village of the scale/character of Ringaskiddy.”
The applicant, Patrick Byrne, had 6 months to respond with additional information and did so on November 29th. As part of the supplementary documentary and details provided, the applicant did not however reduce the number of bed spaces proposed, only reducing the number of bedsits from 26 to 24, but retaining the overall bed space figure of 194.
However, it was not the scale of the development that subsequently caused concern for the Council, with the case planner indicating in the decision letter, issued on January 26th, that the sole reason for refusal was that inadequate information from the applicant had been provided in relation to local biodiversity and the ecology of the site.
The letter stated that “having regard to the characteristics of the proposed site and based on the information submitted, the Planning Authority is not satisfied that the proposed development could be accommodated without adversely affecting the ecological and biodiversity value of the site. Furthermore, having regard to the inadequate ecological assessment submitted, the loss of woodland area of biodiversity value, the encroachment of development into the Root Protection Zones of existing trees and the inadequate methodology employed in the Bat Survey.”
However, it would appear that despite the decision taken by the Local Authority, much of the application through the additional information provided, satisfied the Senior Executive Planner, who stated that “the assessment set out above sets out the detailed consideration of the further information response. In relation to the key issues it is considered that the application can be considered favourably in terms of the planning policy context.
The proposed changes have resulted in a development that is acceptable in relation to the design and layout proposed. The Area Engineer still has concerns about the parking, traffic and access arrangements proposed. Given the use proposed, the town centre designation, the proximity to the maritime college (approximately 15 min walk 5min Cycle) and the public transport links available it is considered that the arrangements, in their current form, are acceptable.”
However, the Senior Executive Planner endorsed the view of the case planner that the applicant failed to address concerns with regards to the potential ecological implications that the development could have.
The applicant has 4 weeks, from date of the refusal decision, to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.