A planning application to demolish an old farmhouse in O’Callaghan’s Mills that predates 1839 has been refused by Clare County Council on the grounds that the demolition is “unwarranted”.
Gerry Keane of Limerick Road, Ennis, sought planning permission to demolish an existing house and sheds and to remove the existing septic tank and associated site works at Killavoe, O’Callaghan’s Mills.
A memo was submitted to the council in relation to the application by conservation officer Risteard UaCróinín, where he outlined that the subject house “is of a design which exemplifies the vernacular architecture of East County Clare”.
He explained that the detached two story three bay gabled stone built rendered house of the late 18th or early 19th century has a Killaloe slate roof and retains most of its original character and architectural features, including ornate render details.
In his memo to the planning department, Mr UaCróinín said the house is shown on the first edition ordinance survey map from 1839 and may date from the previous century.
“The existing house, although derelict, appears to be in good structural condition with little evidence for significant leaning or settlement and could be refurbished, made comfortable and fitted out as a home at little cost. No reason is given to justify its demolition, which if permitted, would serve to remove a significant part of the historic masonry fabric of the townland.
“This house represents a type of vernacular building and a use of natural materials, which not long ago characterised the Clare rural landscape but are now becoming increasingly rare. It is considered that due to its design and use of natural materials, this house makes a significant visual contribution to this area of East Clare,” he continued.
He also quoted Government policy entitled Sustainable Development – A strategy for Ireland, which states “rehabilitation of derelict houses should be encouraged as a more sustainable option than the construction of a new dwelling”.
Mr UaCróinín stressed that the “vernacular heritage of County Clare will continue to disappear unless buildings such as these are conserved, but it is, none the less, essential that economic use be found for them. This vernacular house by its age, materials, design and location makes a significant contribution to the landscape.
The conservation office would favourably consider extensions to the house, provided such extensions were subservient and in character with the existing house, but complete or substantial demolition is considered inappropriate”.
The conservation officer concluded that the applicant should be encouraged to consider repairing and extending this house. He added that a proposed new house by its design and materials would, if permitted, “contribute to an unnecessary increase in the carbon footprint, not be in line with sustainability guidelines and result in the removal of the historic masonry fabric of the area”.
The planning authority refused planning permission citing the following reason, “Having regard to the reasonable structural condition and architectural merit of the existing dwelling and its contribution to this rural setting, it is considered that the proposed demolition of this dwelling is unwarranted, would seriously injure the amenities of the area and would be contrary to objective CDP 18.3 of the Clare County Development Plan 2011-2017, where it is an objective to facilitate proposals that enhance and protect other structures and areas of architectural merit. The proposed development would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”