The provision of €1.2 million recreational development in Killlaloe, spearheaded by former Lions and Ireland rugby captain Keith Wood, has received another timely boost after official approval for a new community sports building.
Clare County Council has given the go-ahead for the construction of a new community sports building and on-site wastewater treatment system to replace the temporary dressing rooms, which were granted under a previous planning application last year.
The new building and the wastewater treatment systems will replace the ones, which were granted previously, as funding may become more readily available through grants and community support.
In a submission to the council, Michael Corey of Michael Corey and Associates, architectural and planning consultants, Ruan, stressed great consideration was given to the location and design of the proposed building to this site.
“It is located where it is considered to have the least impact on the existing trees, flora and fauna.
“It is also considered that the proposed location is the most viable location for the proposed building on this site and its location is consistent with the master planning of the site and will be in close proximity to the car parking and drop-off areas, as granted.
“Contemporary in design, the building will assimilate into its wooded surrounding and the existing high tree canopies to the site. The overall height of the building is low, with its massing broken up between the higher roof to the exercise fitness studio and the adjacent lower roofs/parapets and the natural stone entrance element.
“Depending on the funding available, the building may be constructed in phases including the dressings rooms and plant areas; exercise fitness studio and the storage element to the north.
It is proposed that if such phasing is required, it will be agreed with the planning authority at the relevant time,” the submission outlined.
Following a meeting with John Madden of the Forestry Service on site recently, it was agreed that planting would be in clusters along this boundary, while maintaining some from the house over the parklands. A total of 82 car-parking spaces will be provided.
The Clare Association of An Taisce stated in a letter it would not object to this development if its concerns about archaeology, Natura Impact Statement including grassland habitat, bat survey and tree survey were addressed under conditions attached to the previous application.
It pointed out planning conditions relating to wastewater treatment and connection to public water supply for the last application also had to be applied for this development.
A pre-planning meeting was held with the local planning authority on March 16 last, which was attended by senior planner, Gordon Daly; executive planner, Andrew Hersey; Keith Wood, Alfie Byrne, Josh Lowery and Michael Corey.
The Clarisford Development, right on the Clare shore of the River Shannon, will see sports and recreational facilities in the twin communities of Ballina and Killloe meeting the growing local need.
Preliminary work has started on the first phase of the development on 25 acres of parkland behind the former Bishop’s Palace, Clarisford House. It includes two full-size playing pitches, one all-weather floodlit pitch, floodlit training areas, 800 metres of walking/cycling trails, temporary changing facilities, car parking and ancillary services.
These phases are funded through CLDC Leader, the Keith Wood Fund and the beneficiary clubs Lough Derg FC, Ballina Killaloe RFC and Killaloe 5th/22nd Clare Scout Group and will be fully completed in 2013.
Clare County Council, which owns the land, has handed it over to the committee on a 35-year lease and provided a letter of consent for this latest planning application.
Access to the site has been incorporated in the plans for the new access road to the proposed new bridge over the Shannon.
The facility is also a timely addition for the nearby St Anne’s Community College, which is expected to have a 50% increase in its student enrolment within three years and is already under-resourced in terms of sporting and recreational facilities.
Clarisford is the brainchild of Mr Wood, who said that the sod turning formality, while symbolic, amounted to a pivotal point in what has been a long campaign.