The National Roads Authority came under criticism from two Westport Electoral Area councillors after planning applications were refused due to NRA directives.
The planning application for Michael Gannon, Drummindoo, Westport—for the change of part of the existing agricultural shed to use as a commercial/retail landscape/garden and plant centre, which would include the provision of public/staff sanitary services, associated car parking in existing yard and connections to public services and all ancillary works at Drumindoo— was refused permission to carry out such works on three the grounds of three reasons.
The first reason cited for refusal by planning official John McMyler, at the Westport Electoral Meeting last week, was that the proposed development contravenes the town’s development plan as it would endanger public safety due to the extra traffic which would be brought onto the road; second, the access to the site is 40 metres from the junction to the main road (it should be 200 metres ); and that the proposed commercial/retail premises is outside the land zoned for commercial premises and would therefore have an impact on the amenities in the vicinity.
Fine Gael Councillor John O’Malley launched into an attack on the NRA and said that they have stopped progress in this county, “all over the place”, yet “won’t listen to reducing the speed on certain roads”. The Fine Gael councillor said that at a time when encouraging new businesses and employment should be welcomed the NRA are preventing this from happening.
Cllr O’Malley said that the owner, who has lived and worked in the area for years, is currently paying Mayo County Council for rates on the shed which is currently there and that the proposed premises would not damage the area as there are already commercial premises located near the business, and as there are clear views for 200 metres each side onto the N5 it would not constitute a danger.
The Westport Cllr said that if planners want the entrance changed it can be moved down 200 metres, but that this is “a stupid argument” as traffic still has to connect onto the road.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Margaret Adams said that as the development is not too far outside the zoned area, the town’s development plan, which they are to work on in the coming months, can be changed to extend the zone in order to suit the development.
Newport-based Fianna Fáil councillor Frank Chambers also criticised NRA policy after a planning application for a garage on the N59 in Newport was sought by Peter Ryder, Kilbride but was refused by an Bord Pleanála, “a decision which in my view did not serve in the public interest” and put it down to the NRA who are constantly opposing developments, which shows that they are not concerned with family businesses in Mayo or the future needs of Mayo County Council.