DONEGAL TIMES

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May 9th 2007

The 8th wonder of the world

OPINION

Liam Kelly’s letter in our last issue said it all. One of the greatest acts of desecration ever perpetuated on this town has been carried out by those responsible for our new sewerage scheme. Forgive me for coming back to the subject, but the official vandalism perpetrated makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.
The recently constructed pumping station behind the far pier, and towering about two metres above it, has blocked a view that we, our parents, and forefathers, right through history, appreciated and enjoyed.
As Mr Kelly stated – the magnificent view of the Green Islands, Tullycullion, Murvagh, the boats that anchor at Ballyboyle and Rossylongan, the plantation around the McManus estate, the boats heading in the bay, and the water sparkling and glistening as the sun shines onto a full tide – all are lost and gone.
And why - there were two easy solutions to prevent this fiasco – one to drop the base of the station by a couple of metres, or simpler still, move the whole she-bang a short distance to the end of the Abbey wall where there is a recess that would have put it out of sight.
The total sewerage scheme, since it started about five years ago has been a cock-up. The first contractor, after thrashing the town for months, digging up and filling in streets only to dig them up again, and disfiguring the river with ugly manhole structures, went bust, and disappeared overnight. Nothing then happened for at least two years. Eventually a new company was appointed and started with gusto. Possessing a head-quarters the size of a small village out behind Drimark, there was no shortage of planning personnel and engineers in the area. Their first run-in was with Patsy Kelly who claimed they were laying pipes that intruded into the channel - a handbag confrontation with the company’s workers ensued – and Patsy ended up in the glar. But this was a minor scuffle that paled into insignifance in light of what was to follow - our new edifice – the pumping station.
But can the contractors be blamed? Unless they are making it up as they go along, they must be only following plans handed to them by architects and surveyors who designed the scheme, which were presumably passed by the council.
Almost every morning, before 7a.m. Winter and Summer, for the past six years, I have parked on the far pier to absorb the scenery, the wildlife, water, rough and smooth, and the ambience – if bright and good enough maybe wander around the Abbey. I won’t go near it now- I am disgusted at what has been allowed happen!
Surely the worthies entrusted by our people to look after the town’s well- being should have studied the plans for this structure and been loud in their objections. I have argued long and hard that people shouting for immediate development should take a long-term view. We all want development but we want it structured to fit in with the natural and physical characteristics of an historic and beautiful town. The people deserve to have any plans that inpact on our area pored over and debated. The mortar and bricks we lay now are for generations ahead – they must complement what is already there.
There is more than one type of development – and if our local representative and chamber board had spent more time looking ahead and studying blueprints and material readily available on the web and in the Public Services Centre than taking up airtime on Ocean, they might have had questioned this monstrosity before it happened and come up with an acceptable alternative. The Enterprise Group must also take responsibility. Their office is situated within a stone’s throw of our latest high-rise, the river and pier areas are within their original remit.
But does anybody care in this community - the silence on this matter is deafening - surely by this stage there should have been statements condemning the atrocity from the mayor, chamber chairperson, our councillor, and the CEO of the Enterprise Group. If it was any other place, there would be protest marches to show abhorrence. What is wrong with this town - is it every man for himself and forget the common good.
But ultimately, the architects of the scheme and the departments that passed it - whether government or council - are to blame for the desecration of our greatest natural asset.
There is now a report of a high-powered meeting on the pier last week between contractor and officials at which some tough talking was done. The rumoured upshot – the contractor has been ordered to remove all rock-armour from the pumping station site and change the cosmetic exterior to a decorative stone. Some good this will do - it’s the size, stupid, not the aesthetics of the monstrosity, that is the problem. The whole thing is a mess – and one that could have been prevented.
There is now work starting on the Abbey walk between the piers. Our new Tourist Centre and the re-configuration of the Quay area is commencing. Let us hope that the new chairperson of the Chamber, town manager Ms Monaghan, the CEO of the Enterprise Group, our councillor, and the mayor have all studied the plans. While we have a lot of confidence in the architects involved and their desire to enhance an area of great natural beauty – too many mistakes have been allowed happen – we don’t need any more!

EXCLUSIVE

Keeney Construction to LODGE

appeal AGAINST Kelly development

Decision by London based developer will anger community

As we go to print a spokesperson for Keeney Construction Limited has confirmed that the company will be lodging an appeal with An Bord Pleanala against the decision of Donegal County Council to grant planning permission to Michael Kelly for the erection of a mixed-use development on Miller’s Hill at the back of the car park off Main Street and fronting onto Quay Street in the centre of Donegal Town.
The spokesperson advised, that whilst Keeney Construction had no objections to the principle of Mr Kelly erecting some form of development on the site, they were principally concerned about the scale and design of the development as proposed and its resultant impact on traffic congestion within the town centre.
The spokesperson, in justifying the company’s decision to lodge an appeal, drew attention to comments made about the design of the proposed development by planning officials in the Council’s Planning Department, who had written under the cover of an order issued by the County Manager, Mr Michael McLoone in October 2006 that, ‘the Planning Authority have 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 spokesperson stated that these concerns as expressed by the Council’s Planning Officers had not in their opinion been sufficiently addressed by Mr Kelly’s agents.
The spokesperson also advised that Keeney Construction had commissioned their own traffic consultants, Atkins, to independently review the traffic impact statement submitted with the application and that serious concerns had been expressed by them in relation to the access proposals to the proposed development and the resultant impact on traffic congestion within the town centre.
‘In light of the concerns that have been expressed about design and increased traffic congestion, it is felt that the application be best referred to An Bord Pleanala for an independent assessment. Based on our experiences with the Board we have every confidence that they will look at the appeal in a fair and objective manner and issue a decision which is in the best interests of the town’, the spokesperson said.
The appeal is the third time that Keeney Construction Limited has taken such action against major retail developments in Donegal Town. On two previous occasions they managed to successfully overturn the decisions of the County Council to approve proposed supermarkets at Drumlonagher and the Mullans by Bennett Construction Limited.


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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

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