Planning applicants in Mayo are beginning to feel the effects of Environment Minister John Gormley’s intervention in the County Development Plan.
At a meeting of the Swinford electoral area committee this week three applications being considered for refusal by Mayo County Council fell foul of the Minister’s recommendations.
The decision to consider refusing permission for two houses at Cloonlara, Swinford was described as harsh by Councillor Gerry Murray. Cllr Murray said they were dealing with the impact of the new plan which designates Swinford as an area under strong urban influence despite the fact that the population is only slightly over 1,500. Committee Chairman Cllr Joe Mellet said the fact that Mayo County Council got their population figures from an auctioneering website (daft.ie ) was ridiculous in the first place.
Cllr Jimmy Maloney explained that the applicant in question was proposing to connect to the main sewer while Cllr Mellett pointed out that a house has been built across the road from the proposed development and this development should be dealt with under the same criteria.
A second house, at Cloonamna, Kilmovee, was being considered for refusal because the visibility distances were not met within the boundaries of the proposed site. In the past applicants used to be able to get a letter from the neighbouring farmer to say they had the necessary sight lines but now the applicant must own the land, explained Cllr Murray.
He said this was going to restrict a lot of farming families and he described it as “extremely unfair”. “It’s going to be worse than the occupancy clause. I don’t see anywhere in government policy where it says a person has to own land to achieve sight lines,” he explained, adding that there was a concession under the old plan for families who had no alternative site. Cllr Murray said he intends to seek clarification on these issues.
An application for a filling station in Kilkelly doesn’t meet the minimum standards as set out in the plan, the meeting was also told. Cllr Maloney said any type of new retail activity in Kilkelly should be encouraged and promoted. Cllr Mellet said the applicant should actually be commended and not alone should he be getting planning permission but also a grant. “Let’s hope Mayo County Council are not responsible for the demise of the west,” concluded the Council’s cathaoirleach