Keeney appeal directed at design and traffic issues
The appeal lodged with An Bord Pleanala by Edinburgh based Planning Consultants, Derek Scott Planning, on behalf of Keeney Construction Limited against the proposed mixed use development by Michael Kelly at the Glebe has concentrated on design and traffic issues as its principle concerns.
The appeal statement claims that the applicants failure to produce an urban design strategy has resulted in:
(a) The overdevelopment of the site having regard to its inherent constraints;
(b) A dated and inappropriate typology of the development for the town centre;
(c) A development of a scale and intensity which manifests itself in excessive footprint, bulk, scale and height.
Keeneys consultants claim that views of the proposed development from various vantage points around the town have not been the subject of rigorous assessment in the landscape and visual assessment contained within the originally submitted Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or in subsequent submissions. Furthermore Mr Kelly is criticised for his almost exclusive reliance on aerial images of the proposed development from where, it is argued, very few members of the public will ever view the scheme. He is challenged within the appeal statement to produce further photomontages (artists impressions) of his proposed development to address this deficiency.
In support of their objections on traffic grounds, Keeney has employed the services of Atkins who were also instrumental in persuading An Bord Pleanala to refuse planning permission for the proposed Bennett retail development at the Mullans. A letter from Atkins contained within the appeal is critical of the traffic related information submitted in support of the application by Kellys consultants claiming amongst other things that they have failed to take account of the extra traffic that will be generated by the proposed redevelopment of the Magee site. Atkins also express concern about the new access road proposed off Quay Brae in view of its high level of usage by school children to the Abbey Vocational School and the Glebe Primary School. The failure of the applicants to address the impact of vehicles queuing to gain access into the development off Main Street is also the subject of much criticism. Atkins themselves have predicted that queue lengths of 60 vehicles and more could occur around the Diamond, leading to significant levels of traffic congestion - and on this basis have recommended to the Board that the application should be refused.
Other issues raised in the Keeney appeal relate to the failure of the applicants to attenuate the flow of surface water from the development into Donegal Bay; concerns about the removal of the high embankment and construction of a massive retaining wall (8-20 metres in height); confusion over the amount of retail floor space that is actually proposed in the scheme; and that the proposal to reconfigure the existing public car park at the rear of the Diamond lies outside the planning application site.
In the appeal document which was received by An Bord Pleanala on Friday 11th May 2007 Keeney appears to have given an olive branch to Kelly by concluding that subject to the applicants resolving the access difficulties associated with the site and coming up with an appropriate design which is in keeping with or complementary to the scale, character and design of the established townscape, our client would have no objections to the proposed development.
A second appeal has been submitted by Mr Oliver Byrne, Portmarnock, Dublin, and has raised four grounds of objection to the Kelly scheme.
1. The scale, mass, height and design are inappropriate in Donegal Town and the proposal is considered to be an overdevelopment of the site;
2. The development will have unacceptable traffic implications on the existing town centre both in terms of traffic generation and pedestrian safety;
3. The discharge of surface water into Donegal Bay is unacceptable;
4. The development is likely to result in unacceptable overshadowing of adjacent properties to the detriment of their amenities.
The appeal also draws the Boards attention to the effect that the proposal will have on Mr. Diarmuid McGettigans property to the rear of the development on Millers Hill.
Agree or not, these are the issues that are up for all to see on the Bords website. Donegal Times is reporting facts, and, even though there is a certain shoot the messenger sentiment around town, our people deserve to know what is going on. We in Donegal Times believe the Kelly development should be allowed go ahead, as did the hundreds that gathered on the Diamond a few weeks ago. But it our job to report events as they affect our community and these appeals are issues that will have repercussions for our town far beyond our lifetimes. Let other papers shy away from difficult issues - we wont!
Tommy and Deirdre McGroarty are canvassed at their house on The Glebe by the Fianna Fail A Team of Minister Mary Coughlan and Michael Kelly.