Williamstown proposal gets thumbs down

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to build 324 houses and apartments has been refused by An Bord Pleanála. The Williamstown Strategic Housing Development application was last week given the thumbs down by the planning body. The plan for a site adjacent to The Paddocks in Williamstown included 324 new residential units featuring 11 apartment blocks, 95 four-bedroomed houses, 116 three-bedroomed houses, 17 two-bedroomed houses, a crèche, and 657 car parking spaces.

The 324 house/apartment proposal for a site off the Williamstown Road has been refused by An Bord Pleanála

The 324 house/apartment proposal for a site off the Williamstown Road has been refused by An Bord Pleanála

A total of 51 submissions had been made in relation to the high-density housing development, including from residents’ groups, individuals and local councillors. The reasons cited by An Bord Pleanála for reaching its decision are: poor design concept; failure to establish a sense of place; poor quality architectural design that does not correspond to the topography of site; insufficient quality open spaces; failure to facilitate adequate and appropriate surveillance of green spaces and pedestrian routes.

The proposed development is deemed to be contrary to proper planning and sustainable development of area.Additionally, it is considered that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report fails to address cumulative effects of the development on the environment “particularly with regard to soil, traffic, noise and landscape and visual impact”.

Waterford City & County Council CEO Michael Walsh had recommended to the board that the development get planning approval, with just a few small recommendations.Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) said he was “delighted” that the “unsuitable” high-density apartment orientated Strategic Housing Development had been turned down by An Bord Pleanála. “The Board also had concerns about the Traffic and Transport Assessment submitted,” he said.“The Board could not be satisfied that the development would not endanger public safety by reason of hazard to road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.”

Cllr Mulligan paid tribute to all who had attended meetings on the issue and made submissions. “Despite the approval of Waterford Council Executive, justice has prevailed, and people power has been proved right,” he said. Cllr Adam Wyse (FF) also welcomed the announcement. “Well done to all the different communities that came together to appeal a development which would have caused huge issues without the proper infrastructure in place,” he said.“All residents in the area would be happy for the site to be developed but four-story apartment blocks with no improved traffic management, secondary schools or further necessities in the area is not a plan I or others could support. We can’t build houses for people that will never become homes.”

Meanwhile, a proposal to build 361 houses and apartments at Knockboy has also been met with opposition from local politicians.Jackie Greene Construction has applied to An Bord Pleanála for an €80m Strategic Housing Development.Submissions on the development can be made until June 17th and An Bord Pleanála will make a decision on the site in September.
Speaking at the May Metropolitan District meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr Pat Fitzgerald (SF) said the development wouldn’t be suitable for the area which is already suffering from severe traffic congestion and overcrowded schools.
He criticised the legislation which allows such applications to be made and is “only suited to large cities”.

Since legislation came into effect in July 2017, applications for planning permission for strategic housing developments (100-plus housing units, 200-plus student bed spaces and shared accommodation) are made directly to An Bord Pleanála.Cllr Matt Shanahan (Ind) said there was a certain level of “dismay” in the area regarding the proposed development.“This is not Dublin,” he said, adding that there aren’t enough facilities and traffic is “getting worse”. Cllr Adam Wyse (FF) also has concerns over the Knockboy proposal and particularly the lack of suitable infrastructure in the area. He is urging all who are part of the newly formed Council to immediately make this issue one of the main priorities.

“We need housing in the area but not a development of this size with zero planning and zero infrastructure,” he said.Cllr Wyse highlighted the findings of a traffic survey which estimates that there will be severe traffic issues in the area by 2030 even without such new developments Cllr Davy Daniels (Ind) said he agreed with Cllr Fitzgerald’s comments regarding the legislation and added that roads and schools in the area are already operating at full capacity. Senior Planner Jim O’Mahony told Councillors that a workshop could be held in which all concerns could be noted and sent to An Bord Pleanála.Speaking in the wake of the planning body’s decision on the Williamstown development, Cllr Daniels said he hopes the same level of consideration is given to the Knockboy proposal. He has pointed out that the same issues which were cited as reasons for refusal also apply to the Knockboy development.
Cllr Daniels stressed that those opposing the project do not have any issue with housing in the area but are concerned by the scale of what is being proposed.

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