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Hearing in favour of Cluain Airne right of way extinguishment

AN oral hearing into objections to the extinguishment of the right of way at Tullyglass lowlands to facilitate the provision of affordable housing at Cluain Airne has found that Clare County Council should proceed with the extinguishment.
Large numbers protested against the closure of the right of way last summer, while the affordable housing development has been controversial for some time.
The oral hearing was conducted by Tom Enright of Limerick County Council. In his report he noticed that some of the objections received actually related to the housing development, rather than to the extinguishment of the right of way.
“Many of the written objections and those outlined at the oral hearing pertain to the proposed housing development itself and the process followed in approving the planning for the housing development. I understand that the proposed housing scheme is consistent with Clare County Council’s Housing Strategy 2007-11 and will provide modern, affordable housing to qualified applicants at this location.
“While the housing development requires that the right of way be extinguished, access will be provided through the housing development by way of footpaths which are proposed as part of that development and which are close to the routes of the existing pathways which are proposed to be extinguished. Access to the pathways adjacent to Illaunagowan Point and Illaunaconeen Point from Cluain Airne will still be provided by new footpaths through the proposed housing. It is important to note that the extinguishment of the right of way will not cut off access through the lands once the housing development is completed.”
Some residents had claimed that the movement of emergency vehicles would be restricted and, while Mr Enright acknowledged that it was a serious issue, he felt there wouldn’t be a problem.
“The access for emergency services to the Shannon Estuary is an important issue and one which a number of persons raised in their submissions and at the oral hearing. I consider that the provision of the new access road to serve the proposed housing development should facilitate easier access by the emergency services to the points and the extinguishment of the right of way should not adversely impede access.”
He recommended that the extinguishment go ahead, but he favoured some adjustments.
“I recommend that the council proceed as proposed with the extinguishment of the public right of way at Tullyglass Lowlands, Tullyvarraga Townlands and Tullyglass Townland, Shannon. I further recommend that, if the extinguishment of the right of way is approved, two new pedestrian crossings be provided by Clare County Council on the proposed housing development roads close to where these roads intersect with Pathway D to E as shown on Clare County Council Drawing No 09-1170-01. The council should also consider providing a pedestrian crossing where the existing pathway, which runs north-south to the east of Cluain Airne, intersects with the access road serving the proposed housing development.”
He said that providing the pedestrian crossings would allow people to continue to access the pathways adjacent to the Estuary in safety,
Mr Enright recommended that plans be adjusted if there are delays in construction. “Due to the current uncertainty in the housing market, the council may decide to defer or delay the construction of further phases. If this should happen, I recommend that the council provides temporary pathways along the route of the proposed housing development footpaths or roadways, which would provide access across the lands to link to the existing pathways. These temporary pathways could then be replaced with permanent ones when the construction of the housing scheme is advanced.”
He said that more should be done to examine rights of way to prevent similar issues arising.
“I recommend in future where Clare County Council intends developing lands, that strenuous efforts are made to determine if there are any public rights of way on those lands prior to advancing with development proposals.”
At this week’s meeting of Shannon Area Councillors, the members opted to accept the hearing’s findings, although Councillor Gerry Flynn dissented.

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