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The development had been mooted for Upper O’Connell Street in Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

Housing development for older people in Ennis scaled back

THE developers behind a proposed gated community for older people in the heart of Ennis’ town centre have scaled back their initial plans after concerns were raised by the local authority.

According to documents lodged with the planning authority, if given the go-ahead the units on Upper O’Connell Street will be managed by D Madigan Properties Ltd and discussions have been held with both the Peter McVerry Group and Cluid Housing about their long-term lease.

A planning application lodged by Alan Cummins Ltd had originally sought to construct a two-storey building incorporating six one-bedroom apartments, and a single storey building incorporating six storage sheds to be used in conjunction with the apartments at Upper O’Connell Street.

However, these plans have now been reduced to a proposed one-storey building with three one-bed apartments. This comes after Clare County Council sought further information from the developers after highlighting “serious concerns” in relation to the proposed development’s design and its relationship with the adjacent Architectural Conservation Area and protected structures including Ennis Cathedral and Brandon’s public house.

In a letter to the developers, Clare County Council’s planning office stated that “as currently proposed the development is not acceptable to the planning authority”.

The council requested that a redesign of the proposed development “which has regard to the location of the site, adjacent to the Architectural Conservation Area of Ennis and a number of important protected structures” be submitted.

The redesign would need to include a reduction in the density and scale of the development, the planning authority added.

Responding to the concerns raised, the developers have “completely changed” the design approach, with three one-bedroom apartments now planned all separately accessed and all with private amenity spaces to the rear.

In re-designing the building, the developers stated the main consideration taken into account was the its proximity to the church and parochial house on the adjoining sites, the views of the development from the Clare Road as well as from the church grounds. The newly proposed building is ‘H’ shaped with two gables back to front, similar in shape, form and direction to those on the parochial house.

The further information response states that the design of the units incorporates the principle of universal design for people of limited mobility with hall and doorway widths wider than standard to allow for walking aid or wheel chair turning. Planned shower rooms are of wet-room construction while toilet and basin mounting will be such that grab rails can be added if desired.

The revised single storey design will ensure there is no overlooking or overshadowing of neighbouring properties, the document adds. The reduction in the number of apartments increases the amount of open space on the site, and the originally planned storage sheds will no longer be required.

The document also states that if given planning permission, an arrangement has been made so that no construction traffic will be parking on the street.

In making the initial application, a letter lodged on behalf of the developer outlined, “Because of its location off the main street within the town centre, close to the church, doctor’s surgery, and shops, it makes it the ideal location for a community of elderly people.”

It added that the proposal, taken together with six apartments already under development on the landholding “will provide an ideal sized community type development for elderly people”.

If given planning permission it is intended that the front of the building will be paved with seating and planting while bike racks will also be provided. A decision on the plans is due to be made by the planning authority in the coming weeks.

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