Appeal Against Intention to Grant Planning Permission

Local Authority: Roscommon County Council
Reference No.: 00-1911
Name of applicant: Padraig McDermott
Location: Toorymartin, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Roscommon
Development: four bedroom bungalow, septic tank, treatment unit.
Date of Decision: 14 June, 2001

The Secretary,
An Bord Pleanala,
Floor 3, Blocks 6 & 7,
Irish Life Centre,
Lower Abbey Street,
Dublin 1
July 9, 2001


Dear Sirs;

We wish to appeal the above decision of Roscommon County Council on behalf of our clients Friends of the Irish Environment on the following grounds:

1. The documentation submitted with the application is inadequate and does not comply with Article 23 of Part IV of the Local Government Planning and Development Regulations 1994.

2. The extent of the site is inadequate to conform with the conditioned septic tank treatment system making the proposed development an unacceptable risk of pollution which would be prejudicial to public health.

3. The design of the proposed dwelling is inadequately detailed, poorly proportioned, without landscaping proposals and will erode the rural amenities.

4. The site is a contravention of the provisions of the Development Plan by virtue of its location and design, contributing the erosion of the character of the countryside through poorly designed and dispersed speculative residential development in a continuing uneconomic and socially unsustainable trend.


In spite of a Department of the Environment Circular, the local authority practices governing access to planning maps and documentation has severely restricted our ability to provide the Board with the level of detail we would wish or to enable us to guard against errors that rendered invalid a previous and otherwise robust appeal against this Local Authority [PL 20. 121715]. Consequently detailed information on our grounds is only given in an Annex to this appeal.

We would respectfully suggest that the development consent is a contravention of the Roscommon Development Plan 1993 sections on Development Strategy, specifically Housing Policy and Objectives, Water Sanitary Supply Policy and Objectives, Environmental Policy and Objectives; the section on Planning Control, specifically the Policy for Planning Control in Rural Areas; and the section on Standards, specifically the section on Septic Tank Installations.

The combination of the grounds of this appeal makes this proposal one that should have not been granted by any reasonable decision maker. The poor standard of the planning application reflects either ignorance or contempt. The fact that our Inspector has already observed work commencing on this development before any grant could be issued under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1993, S. 23, (6), suggests the latter as this provision requiring an applicant to await the end of the period allowed for a Planning Appeal is universally known.

In this context, we respectfully seek the return of the appeal fee and our costs in making this appeal on behalf of Friends of the Irish Environment as the application did not reach the standards required by the legislation and should not have been accepted by the Local Authority.


Yours, ect.


Peter Sweetman and Associates and on behalf of Friends of the Irish Environment


Attached: Statutory Fee: £120.00 Postal Order

CC: Policy Planning Section, Department of the Environment, Customs House, Dublin 1


Annex


1. The documentation submitted with the application is inadequate and does not comply with Article 23 Part IV of the Local Government Planning and Development Regulations 1994.

The site layout plans are not drawn to scale as required by Article 23 (1) (a).

The drawings are poorly dimensioned and set in imperial measure. The plans, elevations, and details are not properly dimensioned and are inadequate in detail as to materials, finishes, etc. The overall design quality of the proposal is very poor and the application should have been returned as inadequate.

It appears from evidence on the maps provided that the proposal is one of two on the field in question. The extent of the holding and the full proposals for developments should be presented to the local authority at the same time to ensure proper planning and development.


2. The extent and nature of the site is inadequate to conform with the conditioned septic tank treatment making the proposed development an unacceptable risk of pollution which would be prejudicial to public health.

The underlying geology of this site and immediate surrounding landscape is sedimentary limestone rock at shallow depth. The townland of Torrymartin has a history of the production of lime. There are many open cast quarries and lime kilns located close to the proposed development. This limestone is permeable and pollutant matter can travel great distance underground, contaminating remote sources of water which may be used for public consumption. During heavy rainfall in winter months the water table rises dramatically in this area, creating many small turloughs that dot the landscape.

To the immediate North West and West of the proposed site are natural springs. An open stream runs along side the south western boundary of the site.

No percolation tests appear to have been submitted with the application and no evidence of trial holes was produced to suggest that the site has the ability to accommodate the safe and effective disposal of septic tank effluent without the risk of pollution of ground water. It is our clear understanding that shallow rock underlies this site and that it is not an appropriate location for effluent disposal. The Board's Inspector will have the benefit of examining the excavations already taken place and will note that the average depth of soil is 300 mm on rock.

It does not appear from the drawings provided and now from the markings on site that the back yard of the proposed site can accommodate the 300 meter square percolation bed conditioned by the local authority given the narrow width of the site and the requirements for minimum distances to buildings, streams, and boundaries.

3. The design of the proposed dwelling is inadequately detailed, poorly proportioned, without landscaping proposals and will erode the rural amenities.

The elevations indicate windows and doors that do not relate to the vernacular architecture of the area. The rear elevation of the dwelling fronts the adjacent regional road, ensuring that the dwelling does not rest easily in its surroundings.

Landscaping proposals requested by the local authority were never supplied and agreed with the result that the proposal will not be afforded the limited amelioration which screen planting could offer.


4. The site is a contravention of the provisions of the Roscommon Development Plan 1993 by virtue of its location and design, contributing to the erosion of the character of the rural countryside through poorly designed and dispersed speculative residential development in a continuing uneconomic and socially unsustainable trend.

The planning authority has a duty to take such steps as are necessary to secure the objectives of the Roscommon Development Plan 1993 and to have due regard to national policy as expressed in the 1997 Department of the Environment document "Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland". These plans and policies all rightly seek to guide development into existing centers. The applicant has produced no compelling social need for a dwelling contravening this objective of the Development Plan; in fact, this application appears to be speculative ribbon development.

Poorly sited dwellings in the countryside erode rural amenities through disruption of the surface character and traditional local field patterns, the absence of effective landscaping, intrusive surfaced car parking, often extensive artificial gardens extending to ornamentation and even fountains as well as the inevitable incremental additions such as sheds, telecommunications infrastructure, etc. which can greatly increase the impact of a simple dwelling.

In the case of this proposed development, the impact will then be doubled again as it appears from the map supplied that the development is one of two. These double speculative dwellings are in danger of becoming a distinguishing legacy of current planning in North Roscommon [99/681 and 99/682; 00/909 and 00/910 and 01/20 granted in April 2001 for two dwelling in Copse, Boyle].

In fact, this proposal appears to be a replica of the inappropriate and intrusive double bungalows in the townland of Knockroe [99/681 and 99/682] which have now been constructed within one mile of this site and are currently for sale. These buildings clearly disfigure the countryside as both are very intrusive in their immediate landscape and should be examined in the context of this appeal.

Recent grants currently under construction and also on the market, 00/909 and 00/910 in the Townland of Dorrary appear to be replicas of these inappropriate designs. These Dorrary applications also provided no compelling social need for a dwelling contravening the Development Plan and also appear to be speculative in nature, serving no local need. These two recent grants in Dorrary are particularly intrusive over a wide area, located as they are on elevated landscape overlooking Lake Drumharlow, further eroding views protected from the Shannon waterways in the Development Plan as a valuable source of economic prosperity.

Proper planning and development requires that an applicant's full land holdings are provided to the local authority to ensure that Section 38 Agreements sterilising the remainder of the holdings may be entered into when appropriate. It is clear that this method of development control available to the local authority is not being exercised. In the case of the double bungalows recently granted in Copse, [01/20] a Section 38 was required but only after the double bungalows had been approved.

At the National Planning Conference 2001 held by the Irish Planning Institute, Brendan McGrath, Clare Senior Executive Planner, highlighted the failure in policy that grants such as the ones cited here, including the appeal site, clearly demonstrate. He said:

"Recent research carried out by the National Spatial Strategy Unit shows that over the past five years over one in three new houses have been built as single houses in the countryside and that 18,000 of the 50,000 homes built last year were one-offs.

What is going on? It is an extraordinary situation given the Government Policy in the last five years. There is a clear statement against urban generated housing in the document "Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland" published by the Department of Local Government in 1997. In 1999 Density Guidelines were introduced to promote higher residential development densities. The same year the serviced land initiative was launched. This initiative provides a subsidy for the servicing of the urban and suburban land for residential development.

Is it possible to reconcile a Government committed to compact sustainable development with the ongoing growth of dispersed rural housing?

I believe not."

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