Almost a fortnight after An Bord Pleanala upheld planning permission for a €280 mixed-use development in the city centre, Waterford Council of Trade Unions have issued their “final remarks” on the two-year planning saga.
Following a discussion at its monthly meeting on Wednesday last, the Trades Council said it “formally accepted” the decision in the appeal against KRM Construction Partnership’s proposal by it and a number of other parties.
The Council maintains that “local residents were correct to resist the earlier plans of the developers and in doing so forced the developers to change their plans on a number of occasions and have curbed the worst excesses of the proposed development.
“In winning profound and fundamental changes to the earlier plans they have vindicated their actions and helped protect to a large degree their quality of life as well as the city walls and towers, local
archaeology and all our history and heritage,” the statement added.
The Trades Council, who came in for strong criticism from builders’ unions over their stance, said that, “when asked to support the residents’ case and having examined same [we] were happy to oblige and have learned a lot from the process.
“We firmly believe the debate around the issue during the last two years will help insure council officials, planners, elected representatives and developers ‘raise the bar’ in terms of future city development, especially in the areas of ‘world class urban design’ and ‘quality public realm’”.
The statement continued: “In our view Waterford as a port city with lots of history and heritage has the potential to become a ‘world class’ gateway city and the Trades Council, alongside the wider community, pledge support for any official moves in that direction.”
The WCTU confirmed that they “still have concerns regarding the negative impacts from traffic associated with the project. An Bord Pleanala has accepted the guarantees given by the City Council and the developers and we sincerely hope they are proven correct; however history will be the final arbiter in this regard if the project goes ahead.
“[We] would like to thank all our members in local industry and local residents in the community who supported our position and understood that our detractors, especially in a section of the media, had a specific economic interest in the issue and in any case has been historically opposed to the trade union movement and our interests and actions.
“Finally we have endeavoured to deal with representatives of KRM and city council officials with dignity, courtesy and professionalism at every stage during the planning process and we wish to publicly state that that attitude has always been reciprocated by planners, developers and city council officials and elected representatives.
“As always our council is for job creation especially if they are sustainable jobs and do not adversely impact on ordinary citizens or all our history and heritage. Our involvement in the KRM issue was not frivolous or vexatious but based around protecting the genuine needs and concerns of local residents and the wider community.”