THE steps at Blake’s Corner in Ennistymon will not be back-filled, it emerged this week, after Clare County Council withdrew its Part 8 application to carry out the works at the contentious junction. The reason for the withdrawal, according to the county’s senior engineer, is that it would probably have been refused “as such a development would contravene the council’s own Development Plan”.
Local Councillor Bill Slattery is livid at what he sees as a council u-turn on the issue. “After getting confirmation from Clare County Council that the Part 8 planning application would not proceed because it would contravene the County Development Plan, I was very annoyed and disappointed,” he said.
“I am in the council four and a half years and after being selected to replace Senator Martin Conway, I immediately asked for the steps to be back-filled for the safety of pedestrians and motorists. I felt this request would have been adhered to due to the severe danger of someone getting killed at that particular bend and as the ongoing situation [regarding traffic issues at the Blake’s and Linnane’s buildings] was not going to be rectified, I felt this would be a short-term solution to alleviate this danger,” he continued.
The Fine Gael councillor said he could not understand how the local authority could apply earlier this year for a Part 8 that went against its own County Development Plan, which has been in place since 2011 and runs for another two years.
Councillor Slattery said he would be raising the ongoing issue of traffic congestion at Blake’s Corner at the next municipal district meeting.
“The town of Ennistymon is choked in every direction on a daily basis from 11am to 8pm. It has been a bad season weather-wise; can you imagine what it would be like if we got a fine summer? At the current rate, the number of visitors to the Cliffs of Moher this year is expected to exceed 1.25 million and many of those go there via Ennistymon and Blake’s Corner.
“This looks very bad when trying to promote the Wild Atlantic Way and this certainly would not happen in County Kerry or other counties depending on tourism as their main source of income,” he added.
Part 8 planning applications are made by a local authority, to the elected members of the council, for works in the authority’s own area on public infrastructure projects.
Clare County Council, earlier this year, submitted a Part 8 application to fill in the front steps at Blake’s Corner. A number of people objected to the proposed works, many because of the architectural heritage of the Blake’s and Linnane’s buildings.
This week, in the manager’s report for elected members concerning the application, the proposal was deemed to “materially contravene” objectives of the County Development Plan and would therefore also be contrary to Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht guidelines.