First strategic housing development in Limerick rejected on environmental grounds

First strategic housing development in Limerick rejected on environmental grounds

Michelle Hayes

The first strategic housing development in Limerick has been refused planning permission on environmental grounds.

An Bord Pleanála said it was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the development of student and build-to-rent apartments at Punches Cross would not have a “significant negative impact” on water quality.

Limerick solicitor Michelle Hayes, who raised environmental issues in an extensive submission to the Board, welcomed the decision.

The plans were submitted under the fast-track strategic housing development scheme, which allows developers to submit plans for large housing developments directly to the Board, instead of to local planning authorities.

Among the environmental concerns raised in her submission, Ms Hayes warned that the re-development of the site, which was used for quarrying and extractive industry until the 1950s and later as a petrol fuel station, has “major implications for groundwater contamination and the nearby River Shannon Special Area of Conservation”, to which it has “a direct hydrological link”.

In its decision, the Board said: “The excavation of circa 33,000 cubic metres of soil/subsoil and removal of fuel tanks and hazardous substances on lands where the groundwater is extremely vulnerable, could result in a significant negative impact on the existing water quality of the River Shannon and River Fergus Estuaries.

“In the absence of a Natura Impact Statement the Board cannot be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the proposed development, either individually or in combination with other plans and projects, would not adversely affect the integrity of the European sites in view of the site’s conservation objectives.”

Ms Hayes said: “The proposed development was completely inappropriate for this environmentally-sensitive location and was fundamentally flawed.

“In refusing planning permission, An Bord Pleanála actually stated that it was precluded from granting planning permission for the proposed development.”

The solicitor, who is also president of Environmental Trust Ireland and chair of An Taisce Limerick, said she is particularly pleased that the environmental arguments she raised were upheld.

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