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A general view of the Braids site at Station Road in Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

Braids developers appeal Council’s refusal to ABP

THE developer of a primary health care facility in Ennis insists a proposed extension, refused planning permission, is required by the HSE to facilitate the operation of a Chronic Disease unit for the region.
Valley Healthcare Fund Infrastructure Investment Fund ICAV has lodged an appeal to An Bord Pleanala against the refusal by Clare County Council of plans to increase the size of the development at the former Braids site on Station Road.
Last month, in a split decision, Clare County Council refused to amend planning permission previously granted for a mixed use development that would increase the floor area from 7,250sqm to 8,008sqm with the provision of an additional floor set back at roof top level as well as an additional deck of car parking.
The local authority gave the green light to other aspects of the application seeking to amend the initial health care facility plans.
The new proposals were the subject of a number of objections from local residents who voiced concern about the size of the development among other issues.
According to a submission from the residents of Ard na Greine, “every single resident of Ard na Greine has signified their opposition to this proposal”.
Partially refusing planning permission, the local authority stated that regarding the increase in floor space it was not satisfied the proposed development would not result in haphazard parking.
The council was also not satisfied the plans would not result in “significant overbearance” on dwellings in the vicinity.
In an appeal lodged with An Bord Pleanala recently HRA Planning Chartered Town Planning Consultants argue that the reasons for refusal of planning given by Clare County Council were “comprehensively” addressed at the further information stage.
The appeal further asserts that “the concerns of the planning authority appear to have changed” during the course of assessing the application, with the issue of overbearance not raised in the further information request.
The document outlines that the concerns of the planning authority over the deck car parking had been noted.
A revised proposal was made omitting the deck car parking with plans to enter a legal agreement with a neighbouring multi-storey car park.
The planning consultants state the local authority expressed concerns regarding overlooking and overshadowing at further information, but there was no reference to potential impacts of overbearance.
Responding to the council’s concerns at the time, a daylight and sunlight study was submitted concluding little additional impact over that caused by the building originally granted planning, the appeal states.
The developers did propose obscure glazing for the fifth floor windows.
The appeal insists that the proposed development does not have an “overbearing impact” and has requested that the decision of Clare County Council be overturned and planning permission granted, with a condition should the board require, that the proposed deck parking be omitted.
According to the appeal “the proposed development is required by the HSE to facilitate operation of a Chronic Disease Unit within the primary care centre”.
“The unit, similar to some of the other services in the building, is intended to provide a service to the surrounding regional area.”
The unit intends to deliver an integrated care programme “that treats patients at the lowest level of complexity that is safe, timely, efficient and as close to home as possible”.
The additional floor space has been sought to accommodate two consultants and 48 additional staff resulting in total employment within the centre of 17 consultants, 225 staff, five GPs and six GP nursing staff.
The appeal asserts that the principle of the development is acceptable pointing out one of the key messages of the National Planning Framework is the need to provide the highest possible quality of life.
“The proposed development of a primary care centre in the town of Ennis has been identified as necessary to ensure the provision of an integrated primary health facility with the necessary services and support structure to provide medical and community services to Ennis and the surrounding area,” the appeal states.
It adds that the County Development Plan recognises that the provision of healthcare facilities are essential to ensure the residents of Clare have access to the care they need.
The appeal states having regard to the existing on-site car parking provision; the agreement to lease 18 spaces in a multi-storey; the location of the site in a town centre neighbouring other existing multi-storey car parks; and measures proposed in a Mobility Management Plan would ensure the development with the necessary transport demand management “can operate effectively and is not likely to give rise to traffic hazard or obstruction of road users”.
In relation to the effect on residential amenity, the appeal argues “the overall visual impact is imperceptible” when viewed from the public road and neighbouring houses.
The appeal says that any “potential ‘perceived impacts’ have already been established by the permitted development and are not worsened by the development proposal, which is minimal in the overall increase in height”.
“The addition of a fifth storey is a minimal intervention in the context of the overall permitted development, such that the proposed development will not adversely impact on the residential amenities of neighbouring dwellings,” the appeal asserts.
The appeal concludes, “The extension and provision of a fifth floor storey is proposed on a town centre zoned site.
“The town centre of Ennis is adjoined by low density two and three-storey housing developments and whilst the building may appear high when viewed from the adjoining residential development, cognisance must be had to its town centre location and the distance of the building removed from the houses.
“The separation distances afforded between the houses and the primary care centre are significant such that no direct impacts on the residential amenities of the area occurs.
“It is thus requested that the board overturns the split decision which included a decision to refuse permission by Clare County Council and that permission is granted for the proposed fifth floor extension to the primary care centre.”
The planning appeal is due to be decided by An Bord Pleanala early next year.

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