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The planning authority considered the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity and would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Green light for Christian community’s housing plan

ESB Apprentice Moneypoint

A RELIGIOUS renewal group has secured conditional planning permission for a small-scale housing development in Tuamgraney, for older members of its community. 

The Christian Community has been given the green light for 12 new accommodation units and the updating of their existing facilities at Drewsborough.

A design statement submitted with the application last June, outlined how the existing centre is made up of a chapel, priests house, visitor accommodation, therapy rooms and associated services. Subject to 11 conditions, planners have given the go-ahead for the demolition of part of an existing building, the extension of the chapel and the creation of a new accommodation block.

While assessing the application, planners raised a number of concerns, including the possibility of future interment of cremated human remains at the site.

Through a Further Information (FI) request, they also queried elements of the design and landscaping and how the building would integrate into the traditional streetscape of Tuamgraney. Other questions about the ownership structure of the proposed apartments and management of traffic were raised.

In their FI response, the Christian Community clarified that no interments are planned. It also submitted a traffic assessment report and demonstrated efforts to integrate the new building into the existing architecture and landscape of the village. On foot of the receipt of that information, planners said they were satisfied with the plans.

Among the conditions attached to planning permission is the requirement that the homes will be for “permanent occupancy only”.

The Christian Community is also required to reach agreement with the Council over its obligations on social housing under Part V of the planning legislation of 2000. Restrictions around ownership of the homes have also been imposed.

Corporate entities are prohibited from purchasing the units in order to “restrict new housing development to use by persons of a particular class or description to ensure adequate choice and supply of housing, including affordable housing, in the common good”.

A development contribution “towards the cost of public infrastructure and facilities benefiting the development” of just over €66,500 has been imposed. The developer is also required to agree a Construction Management Plan with the local authority. Other conditions relate to the undergrounding of cables, landscaping and sewage. 

There were two submissions on the project from neighbours in the area. A letter in support of the development was sent by Niamh Ruiséal and Mark Connolly, the owners of a house to the south of the Christian Community Centre.

They told planners they had been consulted on the proposed design of the accommodation and the extension of the chapel and are happy to see this kind of proposal for the community”. 

A submission from Derek and Teresa Browne objected to the plans. The submission said that while the idea of providing for the elderly was noble”, the design wasincongruous and incompatible” with the existing pattern of development in Tuamgraney.

Representations were made by Senators Róisín Garvey and Timmy Dooley. 

On its website (Thechristiancommunityireland.net), The Christian Community, a registered charity, describes itself as a religious renewal movement”, which was founded in Europe in the years following World War I and came to Ireland in the 70s and 80s. 

At this point, it is not known if the grant of permission, or any of the conditions imposed, will be appealed. 

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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