The proximity of a proposed retail and apartment development to the City Wall has been cited in the refusal by An Bord Pleanála to grant it planning permission.

The works, as proposed by applicants Tommy and Jack O’Keeffe, would have led to the construction of a retail premises and four apartments, adjacent to the line of the City Wall on Newgate Street.

The site, which is on the corner of Stephen Street, would have led to the demolition the existing structures that currently occupy its 0.136 hectares.

The applicants had proposed to erect a three-storey structure on the site with a floor area of 329 square metres, 97 of those at ground level.

In refusing planning permission, An Bord Pleanála referenced the City Development Plan “which aims to preserve an enhanced setting and context of the protected structure/national monument (the City Wall).”

The decision statement continued: “The proposed development, if permitted would impact negatively upon the (City Wall) and is therefore considered contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

According to An Bord, the proposed development would “seriously injure” residential amenities of other properties in its vicinity and represent “overdevelopment of a restricted site”.

In their appeal, the applicants noted an archaeological report which states “that the medieval wall was demolished in the 18th century and possibly rebuilt in the 19th century”.

In test trenching undertaken by an archaeological company, “no evidence of medieval footings were found at the base of the wall”.

Given that “no remnants” of the original wall were intact at the site, the applicants contended that the first reason for refusing planning permission was “not valid”.

In addressing the second reason cited for refusal, the applicants stated that their proposal “is in keeping with similar three-story developments in the immediate vicinity of the site”.

They referred to such one building, designed and constructed on Waterford City Council’s behalf, which is situated 25 metres from their site.

“The site is a City Centre location and as such, maximum use should be obtained,” they argued.

In reply, An Bord Pleanála said that the “location, scale and form of the development…would seriously detract from the setting and context and essential character of the city walls having regard to the existing aspect afforded”.

Addressing the age of the section of wall bordering the site, Inspector James Carroll stated: “The position adopted by the Planning Authority is directly the opposite of that taken up by the appellants.”

He adds: “This section of the city wall constitutes a highly visible and, in my opinion, historically important feature. The importance of the city walls generally come regardless of age (and have) been adequately outlined in the City Development Plan…

“I do not consider that the proposed the development would act in furtherance of the reasonable policy of the Planning Authority to preserve and enhance the setting in context of the city wall, which is both a protected structure and part of a national monument.”

On the three-storey building nearby cited by the appellants, Mr Carroll said it was “contextually totally different”.

He continued: “While reference has been made in the appeal submission to a possible reduction in apartment numbers, I consider that the general layout of the proposal is not contusive acceptance, by reduction in apartment numbers.”

He rejected the appeal, again citing the two reasons outlined in An Bord’s original refusal of planning permission.