DONEGAL TIMES

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November 8th 2006

Past Ladies:Back: Nuala Muldoon, Saunda Muldoon, Terese Cunnigham, Fionula Cunningham, Helen McDaid, Fiona Sweeney, Geraldine Carty, Deborah Lacey, Paula Travers Front: Holly Marie Carty, Mary Jo Stewart, Orla Doogan, Orla McHardy, Joanne Travers, Bernie Gallagher, Niamh Britton, Mary Boyle, Arlene O’Neill, Fiona McHugh, Elaine Muldoon, Edel Travers, Mariead Gallagher and Coach Brennan

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COUNTY MANAGER REQUESTS MICHAEL KELLY TO MAKE MAJOR CHANGES TO PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT MILLER’S HILL

Donegal County Council Manager, Michael McLoone has requested Michael Kelly to make major changes to his proposed mixed use retail, cinema, office and residential development at Millers Hill behind the car park on Upper Main Street. In a six page schedule containing fifteen points which was sent to Mr Kelly’s agents Carr & Co, Ballybofey on 27th October 2006, the County Manager sought additional information from the Donegal Town based developer and has advised that if the request is not fully complied with within six months the application will be deemed to have been withdrawn.
In a detailed response to the application, the County Manager has advised Mr Kelly that ‘the Planning Authority has concerns regarding the height and scale of the development relative to the existing urban fabric within the Diamond and wider Donegal Town Centre area, which, given the Heritage Town status of Donegal is likely to prove overbearing and visually disproportionate and dominating given the extent of ridge heights created by the retail and apartment development’.
The County Manager has also advised Mr. Kelly that these ‘concerns apply to both the main element of the development and the Quay Street section of the project, which requires a reduction of at least one storey given its likely negative impact upon the urban fabric of the area.’
He has requested Mr Kelly to submit amended proposals which reduce the mass, scale, height and bulk of the proposed main building from its current form and that the said reduction should provide for a building which does not dominate the Diamond and pier/harbour area in terms of ridge heights.
The County Manager has also raised concerns about the proximity of the proposed development to adjacent third party properties and has requested revised proposals showing ‘sufficient buffer zones’ between them. Mr McLoone has said in his letter that these revised proposals have to include ‘specific detail of graded embankments, screen planting, treatment of differential in levels and safety measures to prevent any potential exposure of members of the public to a major ravine which may constitute a health and safety hazard.’
Additional issues and concerns raised in the County Manager’s Order relate to, and include the shortage of loading bays and turning manoeuvre facilities for delivery vans and HGV’s; the impact of the traffic generated by the development both during construction and following completion; bird, animal/mammal activity on the site; noise from piling activities during construction; storm water attenuation; and the retail impact of the proposed development in Donegal Town and within towns in the wider shopping catchment area.
The Michael Kelly application is the latest major proposal in Donegal Town to be faced with a request for Further Information from the County Manager. The proposed development by Magee Clothing Limited/Keeney Construction Limited at Milltown has been the subject of two such requests, the original plans having been first submitted almost twelve months ago.

Openness, transparency and accountability are essential in all decisions affecting our community

OPINION

Often people come into the Times office and say “why don’t you write about this or that?” stating their own particular bugbear, a felt wrongdoing, or just an agenda they want out in the open. Always on the market for legitimate stories, some of the suggestions we take on board - others are so extreme that we would be long gone out of business if we used them. But that shouldn’t stop our readers from raising issues.
Donegal Times provides a forum which gives the people of this community an opportunity to express opinions, highlight anomalies, ask questions - or just get stuff out of their system. The paper survives with your support - our raison d’etre is to record the diverse fabric of life in our community.
However there is another dimension - we are determined that information affecting this community is published - that nothing is kept under cover, or slipped through quietly - as can be the case in the absence of a watchdog. All decisions bearing on our town must be out in the open. The days of secret meetings, behind closed door decisions, fait accomplis, and rulings foisted on our people, should be in the past. Transparency and accountability is essential in the workings of all bodies whose decisions affect the lives of our people.
A case where this might not be so is the quay area of town. Work is ongoing there for over two years - but does anyone know what is happening? Has there been consultation, are there drawings, or artistic impressions - what changes are planned for this scenic area? Will there be new lighting? - A walkway stretching along the whole river? - Is a marina still on the blueprint? - What will the proposed new hospitality centre contain? - where is it to be sited? - what will it look like? - What about the steep bank leading up to the rectory - are there plans for that? - Will the new pumping station at the far pier be concealed, or will it stick up in all its ugliness to disfigure our greatest natural asset?
All these questions need to be answered and detailed images revealed - we would hope planners and consultants expert in blending man-made structures into areas of outstanding natural beauty are being used to oversee work on this area. It would be a disaster to find out, when all is finished, that an obtrusive, visually offensive, development has sprung up to mar the unbroken view of bay and islands.
Indeed a similar atrocity has already happened - and it is to be assumed that the residents of Waterloo Place and Castle street would have protested strongly if they had known they were to be faced with the ugly manhole structures that presently disfigure the lovely River Eske. Donegal Town’s greatest blessing is its enviable position, situated in the midst of hills, natural foliage and water. Man will come and go - but our natural resources must be cherished, preserved and complemented. If this is not done - the people held responsible will not be easily forgiven!


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937

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