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Landmark site in Clare village set for development

A LANDMARK site in the heart of Crusheen is set to be transformed, now that the council has given conditional permission to plans for a new residential estate as well as retail and office units.
Woodhaven Developments submitted plans in February of this year for a total of 29 homes, four offices and four retail units close to the village centre, west of the R458, saying they represented a potential multimillion euro investment in the area.
During the public consultation phase, four submissions were received in relation to the plans which make provision for a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes, as well as units suitable for use as restaurant, medical and leisure facilities, as well as specialist retail.
One resident pointed out the recent well-documented growth in the population of Crusheen.
“While such growth is welcome,” the submission said, “it does place a strain on the village’s existing community and social infrastructure.”
The submission noted that the graveyard is currently at full capacity as is the local national school. It noted that the current County Development Plan (2017-2023) recognised the potential of the site to “define the village core” and that the Crusheen Settlement Plan set the requirement that a master plan be submitted with any development proposals.
The submission contended that while such a plan was submitted, the current application differed “substantially”, by changing over the balance to favour residential development over commercial.
“The community and recreational facilities of Crusheen need to be strengthened before the population availing of them further increases to enable them to remain of continuing benefit,” the submission argued.
Another resident raised concerns over the proposed new roadway, while two more local people said they had asked the developer to relocate the entrance to the proposed development.
The fourth submission objected to the proposed exit from the development onto the R458, which would cut through a wooded walkway – “a well-used safe resource for many village residents seeking outdoor activity, in particularly families with small children exercising and accessing the playground and shop”.
In March of this year, the local authority, in a detailed Further Information request, raised those and other concerns with Woodhaven.
Planners questioned access arrangements to the site, and the neighbouring one, in light of “the potential to cater for future development at the train station”. They asked Woodhaven to revisit access plans “to cater for any future development of a train station”.
Planners also queried the fact that the proposed entrance crossed an area zoned as ‘Open Space’, and said it might “conflict with the proposed location of bus shelter facilities on the opposite site of the regional road”.
Provision for a village square and green area, as outlined in the masterplan previously prepared for the site, was queried by planners too. They said it didn’t reflect the layout originally envisaged.
Woodhaven was also asked to address a lack of footpaths at certain sections of the proposed development and to clarify details of the planned removal of roadside trees which planners said “make an important contribution to the approach to the village and the general amenities of the area”. A bat survey was also requested.
In May, Woodhaven sent the required information and layout revisions. As the updates to the plans were deemed to be significant, they were advertised. No further submissions were received during this consultation phase.
As planners considered the revised plans, a report from the Senior Executive Engineer for the Killaloe Municipal District noted that concerns previously raised over the proximity of the proposed entrance to a planned bus shelter were now “a non-issue”, as residents had objected and it was not proceeding.
Planners decided that concerns with the original plans had been largely addressed and that any minor remaining issues could be addressed by way of planning conditions.
While the developers revised their plans in order to address the council’s query over separation from railway traffic, Woodhaven also sent planners a letter from CIE, who said they have no plans to develop a train station on lands to the west of the site.
The company also referred to a grant of permission for a new railway station on a separate landholding.
Despite this, the planner’s report said the future use of the adjoining site remained a consideration.
Permission was granted subject to 25 conditions. Among these is the requirement that the developer enter into a Section 47 agreement to ensure the homes are available to individual purchasers, rather than corporate entities. Other conditions focus on protection of recorded monuments and open space, visual amenity, traffic and pedestrian safety, construction management, cash security and development contributions.
In a design statement submitted as part of the application, Woodhaven said they plan to begin work on the new development as soon as work on the nearby Cluain Fia estate is complete.
There is a four-week period since permission was granted on June 24 for appeals by the developer and/or those who have previously made submissions.

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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