Contentious plans for Doughiska development appealed to An Bord Pleanala

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A contentious plan to improve the state of the public realm at Fionnuisce estate in Doughiska, but to also build housing on land that is designated communal open space, has been brought to An Bord Pleanála.

A planning application was made by Martin Tolan to create a new Public Realm masterplan and rehabilitation scheme for Fionnuisce, and the construction of new housing on recreational amenity space in the Doughiska estate.

This would include the “restoration, improvement and augmentation of existing and new hard and soft landscape provisions”, along with “supplementary planting enhanced facilitation of biodiversity, along with additional landscape connections to Merlin Woods and improved pedestrian permeability”.

The development would also include the construction of 21 two-bedroom house, with a mix of two semi-detached homes and 19 terraced houses.

Galway City Council refused to grant approval for these plans on December 10 of last year, a decision which has now been appealed to the higher planning authority.

A planning inspector for the city council noted that the area on which it is proposed to build is one of the few amenity spaces in the Fionnuisce estate.

A decision on this appeal is due from An Bord Pleanála by May 20 of 2021.

The plans have attracted strong opposition from local residents, who say that the estate was left unfinished by the developers in 2010, and that the local residents association has been working with the city council to get the estate to a condition where it can be taken in charge by the local authority.

The city council refused planning permission on the grounds that the land which the developer aims to build on were designated as communal open space in previous plans approved by the council.

Allowing this development would result in a “significant reduction in quantum, quality, and functionality of the existing amenity space” and would contravene a condition of the planning permission granted for the original estate.

Condition No. 2 of the planning permission for the estate granted in 2000 required that two apartment buildings be omitted from the initial plans in order to provide communal open space, which is the subject of this application.

“The proposed development would therefore seriously injure the residential amenity of the estate and properties in the vicinity and would therefore be contrary to proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The council also stated that the proposal represented and overdevelopment of the site, was substandard in design, and contravened the City Development Plan’s Green Network provisions.

In the original application to the council, it was argued that the proposal would result in “a professional designed new landscape environment to the benefit of the entire estate and all the residents”.

Urban ARQ architects stated that “Our client proposes a second to none quality rehabilitation of the current poor, characterless and bland open space along with comprehensive external environment improvements”.

A decision on the current appeal against the city council’s refusal is due from An Bord Pleanála by May 20 of 2021.