Planning board vetoes 60-unit Tullamore housing plan

An Bord Pleanála has rejected an appeal against Offaly County Council's decision to refuse permission to a 60-unit development in Tullamore.

Sheila Doorley, c/o Tom Phillips and Associates of 60 Harcourt Street, Dublin, had appealed the council's refusal of permission for 60 two-storey dwellings at a site off the Arden Road in Tullamore.

A new distributor road also formed part of the housing scheme application, running from the existing roundabout and spur road at Ardan Road to the southern boundary of the site.

The board, in its ruling issued on September 19, cited two reasons for refusal of planning permission, which echoed closely the two reasons offered by Offaly County Council in its decision in October 2021.

The board said the development would materially contravene the Offaly County Development plan 2021-2027 in that the zoning objective for the area is for a business or technology park.

It noted that it was also an objective of the council to support the development of strategic employment zones in the area to cater for the expansion of the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, and its continued development as a teaching/university hospital and/or a medical or bio tech park with linkages to the hospital.

In its second reason, the board said the dominance of vehicular movement considerations in the layout design and the failure to achieve an acceptable density of dwelling units, would be contrary to the provisions of the development plan and guidelines supporting it.

In the appeal, it was argued that the application complied with several factors to allow the board to consider granting permission for a project that the local authority had indicated required a material contravention.

The appellant, through her agents, also disputed the council's interpretation of the design guidelines.

The appeal also argued that the planning authority could have ruled on the application during the lifetime of the previous county development plan, in which the land was zoned residential, and that there was no justification for delay.

In a report for the board, the planning inspector said the board was precluded from granting planning permission as the application did not meet the criteria set out in legislation to permit it to grant permission where the local authority had refused permission on grounds that a proposed development materially contravenes the development plan.

The inspector also said the further information response from the applicant to the local authority “did not satisfactorily address” issues of density and design raised by council departments.

It added that the timelines on the council's handling of its application provided by the applicant “do not appear to indicate excessive delay in processing the application”.