CLARE county councillors will be asked to support a proposed upgrading of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Car Park, despite a claim this it is contrary to a previous Bord Pleanála ruling.
In a report prepared for councillors for the adjourned meeting last Monday, deputy chief executive Ger Dollard recommended that the council proceed with the works as outlined, subject to a number of conditions outlined in a local authority planning report.
“The effect of the works will be to upgrade the existing car park at the Cliffs of Moher from its temporary construction state to the standard expected in a car-parking facility and which serves the second most visited tourist attraction in Ireland.
“Subject to tendering process and funding arrangements, it is unlikely that works will proceed until late 2017 at the earliest,” he stated.
It is expected that councillors will decide to accept, reject or adjourn a decision on this Part Eight planning application when they reconvene next Monday.
The proposed development includes the provision of new surfacing, kerbing, footpaths and paving, signage and lining, fencing, ducting, e-car charging points, raised uncontrolled internal crossing point, a defined overflow coach parking area and increased number of disabled parking spaces.
Other works will include the regrade of the existing internal footway, installation of a surface water drainage system, earthworks and all other works at Cliffs of Moher Car Park, Lislorkan North.
In a submission to the local planning authority, John D Flanagan of Diamrem Limited, Liscannor, stated that the development is expressly contrary to the basis upon which the visitor centre was granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála under a previous ruling, which approved the car park on a temporary basis only.
Mr Flanagan stated that the council cannot, through a Part Eight application, give the development a “degree of permanency through the process now proposed”.
“The council are stopped in circumstances where they have represented to Diamrem and An Bord Pleanála in the course of our application for park and ride facilities that they accepted the company’s position as per their letter of June 8, 2009 and the company relied on this representation and it is expressly referred to in the board decision.
“The proposal to transform a temporary car park into a permanent use in the manner proposed amounts to an interference with Diamrem’s existing proceedings under Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act and seeks to adversely affect and prejudice those proceedings.
“This procedure fundamentally violates the well-established principles as established in Buckley and Attorney General and it is inappropriate and improper to initiate this procedure subsequent to the bringing of these Section 160 proceedings,” Mr Flanagan stated.
In its response to submissions, the council stated that the planning histories on the site and at the park and ride facilities are noted and are considered in the assessment of this application.
“The council now proposes to upgrade and improve parking facilities and a formalisation of the existing temporary car parking arrangements serving the Cliffs of Moher centre to facilitate its ongoing use into the future.
“With regard to the legal precedent cited, Section 5.13 of the Development Management Guidelines are noted in this regard. In particular, the following extract is considered to be of direct relevance in this instance: ‘The planning system is not designed as a mechanism for resolving disputes about title to land or premises or rights over land; these are ultimately matters for resolution in the courts’.”
Efforts by The Clare Champion to contact Mr Flanagan on Wednesday proved unsuccessful.
By Dan Danaher