Council fears over wellness centre proposal
Fintan O’Brien, Kieran Casey and Brian O’Shaughnessy applied for planning permission earlier this year for a wellness centre with a manager’s apartment or office, 15 ‘wellness’ tourist accommodation units, a storage shed, gazebo, wastewater treatment, 32 parking spaces and associated works at Ranaghan, Ruan, four-and-a-half miles from Corofin.
According to the application, it is intended that Clare Resorts will operate the development. The three applicants are local people and, in partnership with Clare Resorts, “It is proposed to create employment in the area; one [an area] that has no tourist-related employment or tourist accommodation in existence. There are no tourist facilities servicing the eastern part of the Burren and it is considered that this small scale development will bring an economic boost while not impacting on the unique landscape to the north and west.”
According to Clare Resorts, market research has shown that the development is required in Ranaghan and “once constructed will be the first of its kind in Europe”.
“This will generate tourism dollars into an area that needs it and will create local employment,” it adds.
According to the application, the project, if it were to go ahead, would employ 12 to 18 people, including the management and staff to operate the development along with outside supporting contractors. It would also operate 24-hours a day for 365 days.
Clare County Council was due to make a decision on the application for the centre this month but has instead asked for further information on the proposed development. It stated that it had “serious concerns regarding the proposed development from a public health point of view”.
The planning authority noted the proposal to provide a wastewater treatment system on site but noted the proximity of the site to Lough George “in an area of extreme groundwater vulnerability”. Against this background ,it expressed “very serious concerns that the proposed development may give rise to a risk of water pollution affecting the quality of the lake water by way of increased nutrient loading and the consequent risk to public water supply”.
The council also requested a Natura Impact Statement because of the proximity of the site 230 metres from the East Burren Complex Special Area of Conservation and within 370 metres of the Ballyogan Lough Special Area of Conservation and the proposal to have onsite wastewater treatment.
The local authority also stated that the development should be integrated in to the existing site contours as much as possible.