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The site close to the Buttermarket on Drumbiggle Road which is the subject of an application for new homes.

Re-design of Ennis development sought

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A RE-DESIGN of an entire development proposed for an historic area of Ennis’ town centre has been sought by the planning authority who have voiced “serious concerns” about the visual impact.
Clare County Council have sought further information on the plans by Eko Integrated Services Ltd for the Drumbiggle area, with the local authority highlighting issues including that the height, massing and scale is “not acceptable” as currently proposed.
Eko Integrated Services Ltd lodged the application for the development at Drumbiggle Road, Buttermarket Street and Simm’s Lane which if given the green light will see the construction of 46 residential units, a digital hub and cafe.
The further information request states, “While a contemporary approach may be considered by the planning authority, this design ethos must have regard to the existing urban fabric in the vicinity of the site, the location of the site within the Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) and the adjoining hitoric buildings”.
The developers have been asked to submit a re-design for the entire development which has “regard to the existing built environment and building lines as well as the historic context of the site.”
The re-design should incorporate a reduction/breaking up of the scale and massing with a reduction/stepped approach taken towards the height.
The developers have also been told that the use of brick is “not acceptable and does not reflect the location of the site within the ACA”.
The re-designed development should incorporate proposals to reduce the potential impact from overlooking onto adjacent properties.
The developers have also been asked by the local authority to demonstrate how the proposed development would fit into the overall and comprehensive re-development of OP10, an Opportunity Site under the County Development Plan comprising Waterpark House, the Buttermarket and Áras Uí Chlocláin. The council have asked the developers to look at the potential of providing active frontage along the road running along the eastern site boundary.
“The relationship between the subject site and proposed development and the wider urban context needs to be further examined and explored,” the planning authority states.
The council believes there is potential to create an “attractive shared surface boulevard” along Buttermarket Lane with active street frontage.
The further information request goes on to state that regarding existing public services, community facilities, transport modes etc in Ennis the residential density is considered “excessive” and a development with lower density has been sought.
The planning authority is also “not satisfied with the over-dominance” of two bedroom units in the building, saying it does not provide for an “adequate mixture”.
The developers have been asked to submit a greater mix of unit types.
Further details on parking proposals for the development and the submission of a comprehensive bat roost and activity survey is also requested. The planning authority also noted the plans for an open space, however has expressed concerns about its functionality stating an appropriately sized play area should be provided with adequate adult seating.
The plans involve the development of a new four-storey apartment building with 30 two-bedroom apartments and three one-bedroom apartments over semi-basement level with 20 car-parking spaces, secure bicycle store, bin store and plantroom.
Plans further include a cafe and digital hub at ground level to Simm’s Lane; a four storey apartment building, stepping down to three storeys on the Buttermarket Street Lane with seven two-bedroom apartments; six three-storey terraced town houses to Buttermarket Street, a new substation, five new set-down car parking spaces.
A number of submissions relating to the development have been received from members of the public, including a petition signed by local residents who have voiced fears about the density and scale of the plans, “chaotic” parking and potential anti-social behaviour.
According to an objection lodged by Stephen Loftus on behalf of the residents, “There are a lot of elderly people living in this area, some have been housed by the council.
“There is a certain amount of anti-social behaviour and these residents do not need any more. Ennis West, from Drumbiggle Road to upper Cloughleigh have absorbed a lot of this behaviour and it’s time we got a break.
“Good, decent, honest people have suffered in silence for many years. What other side of town has been treated like us on the west side.”
The residents believe a car park would be more beneficial for the area.
The site is currently unused with four vacant terraced cottages to the north on Buttermarket Street, which the developers are seeking to demolish as part of the plans.
A report lodged with the planning authority as part of the application on behalf of Eko states, “The development has been designed to meet the demand for high quality, sustainable homes in Ennis and is designed to integrate with the existing context.
“At a time when there is unprecedented demand for housing, a mixture of apartments and town houses was considered appropriate for this site.
“The digital hub and cafe will further enhance the development as an attractive place to live and work. The development is an opportunity to bring a new vibrancy to this community in Ennis.”

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