Buildings


The Secretary,

An Bord Pleanala,

Floor 3 Blocks 6 & 7,

Irish Life Centre,

Lower Abbey Street,

Dublin 1.

10 October, 2001 By Registered Post


RE: Development: Permission for single storey dwelling house, single storey garage and outbuildings, associated site development and landscape works, including provision of sewage treatment unit and percolation area and paving of approximately 500 metre access way from 240 metres west of existing junction of County Road No. L 92 to the proposed new dwelling, site development and landscape works; all on lands at Kilmacarrill Townland, Cootehall, County Roscommon.


Planning Authority: Roscommon County Council

Planning Authority Reference Number: 01/1077

Date of Decision: 13 September, 2001

Developer: Martin McAleese

Location: Kilmacarrill, Cootehall, Co. Roscommon


Dear Sirs;


We wish to appeal against this grant of planning permission. The grounds of our appeal are as follows:


1. The site of the development is located in a remote, elevated and exposed rural landscape of very high visual amenity adjacent to the shoreline of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). It is an objective of Roscommon County Council as set out in the current Roscommon County Development Plan 1993 to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to the visual or environmental amenity from the River Shannon. The proposed development will be visually obtrusive and will materially contravene this objective.


2. Taken in conjunction with existing developments along the shoreline of Lough Eidin, the proposed development would give rise to excessive density of development in a rural area of very high scenic amenity value, lacking certain public services and community facilities, and would contravene the policy of the Planning Authority as expressed in the current Roscommon County Development Plan to direct residential development to serviced centres.


3. Having regard to the sloping nature of the site and lands towards the river/lake, the ground conditions on the site, the density of the adjacent ditches/drains, the presence on the site of a watercourse issuing into Lough Eidin (Drumharlow), it is considered that notwithstanding the proposed use of a proprietary treatment system the development would constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and would be prejudicial to public health.


4. It is considered that the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard, because of the additional traffic generated by the proposed development, on a narrow substandard network of local roads linking the site of the proposed development with either Carrick-on-Shannon and/or Cootehall/National Primary Route N4.


5. The proposed development is located adjacent to the shore of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). It is an objective of the planning authority as expressed in the Roscommon County Development Plan 1993 and of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, the Gaelteachta and the Islands as expressed in the designation of a Natural Heritage Area under the Wildlife (Amendment( Act 2000 to protect this area of ornithological and ecological importance. Having regard to the location of the proposed development and the wording of the planning permission in relation to site development and landscaping it is considered that the proposed development would conflict with this objective..


6. The applicant's contention that the rebuilding of the ruins on the site is exempted development under S.4.(1)(g) of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963 exceeds the intention of the legislation and is contrary to the recommendation of Duchas, the Heritage Service.


The detailed grounds of our appeal are presented in an Annex to this appeal and supporting maps, photographs, and photographic surveys are presented as Exhibits "A" to "K". We would be grateful if the documents submitted in colour are copied in colour for any circulation.


ANNEX


To the appeal to An Bord Pleanala against Roscommon County Council Planning Permission 01/1077

1. The site of the development is located in a remote, elevated and exposed rural landscape of very high visual amenity adjacent to the shoreline of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). It is an objective of Roscommon County Council as set out in the current Roscommon County Development Plan 1993 to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to the visual or environmental amenity from the River Shannon. The proposed development will be visually obtrusive and will materially contravene this objective.


1.1 Planning Policy

We attach herewith Map No. 1 copy Ordinance Survey map of Ireland Discovery Series, No. 33, scale 1/50,000 [Exhibit "A"]. This indicates the location of the proposed development in relation to the adjacent landscape in counties Roscommon and Leitrim. The site is shown approximately located on the eastern shoreline of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) in the Townland of Kilmacarrill and marked A on said map.


Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) is one of the three lakes on the Boyle River System, which is a tributary of the River Shannon. The other two lakes are Oakport Lough and Lough Key, both shown on this map. The distance between Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) and Lough Key is three miles. Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) is the gateway to Lough Key and the Lough Key Forest Park for all water borne traffic travelling from the River Shannon and the Lough Erne systems.


This was recognised by your Board's Inspector in recommending refusal of the previous application at this location on 18 January, 2001 [PL 20. 121715]:


"Lough Eidin, forming part of the Shannon navigation system, is a significant natural asset to County Roscommon, albeit that it is not within a designated area of high amenity on the Plan. I would consider it to be a particularly important gateway to this river system when commencing a river journey in a north-westerly direction from the cruising centre of Carrick-on-Shannon."


This river/lake network is the major natural tourism resource of County Roscommon and is recognised as such by the following publications:


¬? Roscommon County Development Plan 1993

¬? Roscommon County Draft Development Plan 2000

¬? Brady Shipman Martin Lough Key Study Report, 1981

¬? Draft Lough Key Plan 3448 commissioned by Roscommon County Council to supercede the Lough Key Study Report 1981. This is intended to constitute an annex to the Roscommon Development Plan 2000 and is due to be ratified by the local authority during the course of this appeal.


We would specifically suggest that this development consent is a contravention of the Roscommon Development Plan 1993 sections on Development Strategy, specifically:


¬? Housing, Policy and Objectives, [Vol. 1 p. 14]

¬? Transport, Policy and Objectives [Vol. 1 p. 16]

¬? Recreation, Tourism, and Community Facilities - Policy and Objectives [Vol. 1 p. 25]

¬? Water and Sanitary Services, Policy and Objectives [Vol. 1, p. 13]

¬? The Environment, Aims, Policy and Objectives, [Vol. 1, p. 22]

¬? Planning Control, specifically the Policy for Planning Control in Rural Areas [Vol. 1, pp. 32-37]

¬? Standards, specifically the section on Septic Tank Installations [Vol. 1, p. 40]


It is an Objective of the Development Plan:


"To ensure that development proposals in the area of the Shannon are generally located within existing centers, and to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity."


Your Inspector noted in this regard in recommending refusal for the previous development at this location [PL 20/121715]:


"The policies of the Plan include the conservation and preservation of important assets of the natural environment in the County and the requirement that all developments in rural areas are in harmony with the surrounding environment in respect of use and appearance. Furthermore, it is a specific objective to prohibit development proposals in the area of the Shannon where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity. It is a requirement that damaging, unsympathetic or visually obtrusive developments be particularly avoided in the Shannon area."


The Inspector concluded:


Given the development's scale and inappropriate siting on elevated land in close proximity to the shoreline of Lough Eidin, it is my opinion that it would be visually damaging in this remote and scenic location. I consider that the imposition of the proposed structures at this location could not reasonably be regarded as being compatible with the policy of conserving the natural environment and, in my opinion, it unequivocally contravenes the planning objectives to prohibit development proposals in the area of the Shannon where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity."



1.2 Planning History

While the local authority has suggested limited permissions have been granted on the shore of Lough Eidin, including the previous application at this location, the Board's decisions on appeals brought before it have been consistent in its refusals, according to the above Inspector's Report:


"PL 20. 107577: Reasons for refusal included reference to the proposal in the context of the development plan objectives for the Shannon area and the impact on Drumharlow as an area of scientific interest.


20/5/69930: Outline permission refused for a house in this townland to the north of the current appeal site.


20/5/68712: Refusal at Drumsillagh at the north-eastern end of the lake.


20/5/68119: Outline permission refused for Drumsillagj


20/5/64984: Outline permission for two refused at Drumsillagh


20/5/37358: Outline permission refused for two bungalows at Powellshill."


The Inspector concluded by recommending refusal on the grounds of planning history:


"I consider that the granting of permission for the proposed development would be inconsistent with the decisions of the Board relating to developments in the vicinity of Lough Eidin and would create an undesirable precedent for further residential development."



1.3 The revised location

While the proposal is reduced in height and the quality of the design is dramatically improved, the visual impact of the development has been reinforced by the increased height of the revised site location.


The development is no longer located on what the applicant called the "optimum location" on the site as previously stated to the Board. ["Response by the Applicant to the Third Party Appeals", 14 November 2000, PL 20/121715].


Since that application, the site of the dwelling has been relocated to the summit of a dumlin on highest part of the farmland. It is noted as "crown of hill" on the drawings supplied in connection with the proposed sewage treatments and percolation area [Design Proposal for a Wastewater Treatment System, Biocycle Ltd. p. 15; and Environmental Assessment Report, Pollution and Waste Services Ltd. p. 21]. In this regard we attach photograph No. 1 showing the lands and site viewed from the lake, from a position located im- Mediately North of Inishatirra Island. [Exhibit "B"]


We would suggest that this development is now in fact located on the highest contour line above the lake. It is, therefore, hard to determine any grounds whatsoever for the applicant's agent now to suggest that with this current and elevated location "extensive use is made of backdrop of land" [Applicant's agent's letter of 11 July, 2001, p. 5] as there can be no backdrop of land at this new and elevated location.


We therefore conclude that the new proposal is substantially higher than the proposal refused by your Order of January 6, 2001, notwithstanding the revised design, and suggest the windows will be approximately 18 metres above the lakeshore level and that the development will form a inescapable and intrusive feature on the landscape by day and provide a beacon-like illumination at night over a wide area of the River Shannon and Lough Eidin (Drumharlow).



2. Taken in conjunction with existing developments along the shoreline of Lough Eidin, the proposed development would give rise to excessive density of development in a rural area of very high scenic amenity value, lacking certain public services and community facilities, and would contravene the policy of the Planning Authority as expressed in the current Roscommon County Development Plan to direct residential development to serviced centres.



2.1 Applicant's interest in the land/property

The applicant gives his interest in the land as follows:

"State interest in land/property, i.e. Owner/Leaseholder/perspective buyer."

The reply is given as "owner". This was also the information supplied on the previous application at this location by the applicant refused by Order of your Board on 6 February, 2001.


The applicant gives the folio of the relevant property they own as Folio 36169 in the "Grant of Easements/Wayleaves" dated 4 October 2000 and furnished to your Board in the previous planning application at this site [Exhibit "C"1]. A title search on 11 September, 2001, shows the title for the relevant Folio 36169 remains in the ownership of Mr. Morahan [Exhibit "C"2].


While this may be due to the delays in Land Registry, it would be surprising if a property valued in excess of £200,000 was not purchased subject to the availability of planning permission. This would suggest that the correct reply on the application form was not "owner" but "perspective buyer".


Further, if the subject lands are or were part of the holdings of a Mr. Morahan, what relationship do these lands have to the appeal Friends of the Irish Environment lodged against a grant of permission for a Mr. Morahan for a single storey dwelling in this area [PL 20.123585]? This application was deemed withdrawn by your Board on 11 April, 2001. We understand that there is a current application before Roscommon County Council in the same name in this Townland.


With respect, we would suggest that further information about the interest of the applicant in the lands and the sub-division of an agricultural holding, if any, might assist in the fair determination of this application.


2.2 Status of the applicant

The applicant suggests [Applicant's agents letter of 11 July, 2001, p. 5] that the proposed Development is consistent with the policy of the Development Plan in that it is "for a farmer or for a family member involved with the running of the farm".


The applicant is Dr. Martin McAleese, Aras An Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. The applicant is a dentist by profession. The applicant is married to President Mary McAleese. Dr. Martin and President Mary McAleese have previously sought planning permission to develop a house on a small site of 1.7 hectares on these lands. (Roscommon PD 00/898) This application was refused permission by An Bord Pleanala dated February 6, 2001 [PL 20. 121715]. The applicant has now added acreage of farmland to the original site referring in his application to the interest in farming of the applicant.


Much is made by the applicant of family connections with the townlands of Ardglass and Carroward, both of which are highlighted on the attached Map No. 1 [Exhibit "A"]. Her grandfather and father resided in both townlands and she returns to her father's dwelling at Carroward to the present day.


In this regard, we draw the Board's attention to the sale by public auction of the agricultural lands surrounding her dwelling at Carroward. These were comprised of a 25 acre non-residential good quality farmland belonging to the late John McGreevy. Neither the applicant nor the President made any attempt to purchase this land which was sold at agricultural value.


President Mary McAleese and her im- Mediate family have no past connection or ties with the townland of Kilmacarrill or any of these neighbouring townlands on the north eastern side of the Boyle River / Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). The railway together with the National Primary Road N4 and the river/lake system provided significant historical barriers to travel between townlands such as Carroward and Kilmacarrill.


We note the claims in the planning applications of a connection with Cootehall Village. This is understandable given that Ardglass Townland is in the parish of Cootehall, in spite of the geographical barriers. Cootehall Village is, in fact, identified as a development node in the Draft Lough Key Plan 3448 and is ideally suited to accommodate development such as that proposed by the applicant.


We would respectfully make the following points in relation to the "family member involved with the running of the farm" and the viability of this holding in terms of agricultural land use:


The applicant did not claim to be a farmer or hold farmland with the original application. The applicant is not a farmer by profession not does he hold a herd number. There are no farm buildings on this alleged 27 acre farm at present. Will this development consent give rise to the future establishment of agricultural buildings, etc, on the applicant's land?


This land is of poor quality by any agricultural standards and is mainly covered by heavy rush growth. It is well known that, notwithstanding the County's average agricultural holding of 27 acres, farmland of this quality and small acreage is not a viable proposition in this area.


The permission for site development and landscaping "throughout the lands at Kilmacarrill" does not accord with the use of the land for farming purposes.


We would respectfully suggest that these lands are in the process of being sold or have been sold to the applicant for development purposes solely because they are located in a place of high visual amenity adjacent and accessible to the shoreline of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) and its navigable waters.


The effect of subdivision of existent farms into smaller holdings for development purposes has very serious implications for the visual and environmental amenity value of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). We attach herewith a sample of the advertisements for such properties, which are currently for sale on Lough Eidin in the townlands of Drumsillagh and Cleaheen [Exhibit "E"]. We have referenced these as U, V, and W and indicate their locations on the Map No. 3 [Exhibit "D"]. This area of County Roscommon qualifies for tax relief, further encouraging development.


Poor quality agricultural lands such as these are presently selling in North Roscommon from between £1,800 and £2,500 per acre. The price the applicant has negotiated for these lands is indicated by the guidelines for other properties in the area [Exhibit "E"].


Other lakeshore lands in the vicinity are also for sale referenced X and Y on Map 3 [Exhibit "D"]. The guide prices for the above mentioned properties are far in access of agricultural value and clearly indicate a trend to capitalise on the scenic amenity value of the lake and indicate the level of development pressure in this area. A grant of Planning Permission to the applicant for this proposed development will set a precedent for development around this lake which will adversely effect the sustainable ability of the land to support the agricultural community.



2.3 Hedgerow considerations

The proposed development is heavily reliant on the existing hedgerow systems surrounding the site to screen the elevated development from Lough Eidin (Drumharlow).


We attach herewith Map No. 2, copy Ordnance Survey sheet, scale 1/2500 [Exhibit "F"]. The hedgerow along the im- Mediate North Western site boundary (Ref. A - B on the said Map) is particularly weakly structured and low in height and is incapable of screening the proposed development from Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). This is especially true from the part of the lake north of a line drawn between the northern shore of Inishatirra Island and the southern point of Davis Island. In this regard we attach herewith Photograph No. 2 [Exhibit "B"] indicating lake views taken from the site through the said north-western boundary (summer time view).


Part of the im- Mediate site boundary to the south west of the proposed development has been removed. (Map No. 2; B - C). The proposed development will be visible through this boundary from Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) especially from that part of the lake to the south and east of Inishatirra Island.


We have noted that the hedgerow along the im- Mediate south eastern site boundary (Map No. 2; C - D) has been broken down with a mechanical digger by the applicant since the grant of development consent by the local authority on 13 September, 2001. The few mature trees in this boundary have been destroyed. Similar decimation has occurred to part of the boundary hedgerow marked C - E on said map. (See Photographs No. 3 and 4, Exhibit "B")


The applicant's agent assured the planning authority in the previous application that that development would be "well screened by the existing hedges and trees" [Applicant's agent's Response by the Applicant to Two Third Party Appeals, 14 November, 2000]. Yet this hedgerow too has also been adversely impacted. It is clear that the applicant has very little regard for the existing hedgerows on the site or their significance in the local environment.


The sensitive nature of these lakeshore sites was noted by the Board's Inspector in recommending refusing of the previous application at this location on January 18, 2001:


"The lake is significantly unspoiled and this is significant to water based travel. Remote shore line locations, such as that which is proposed, are particularly sensitive and new development can radically alter the unspoiled character of such an area where inappropriate siting and design occur and where there is disturbance to the shoreline itself."


We attach herewith [Exhibit "G"] photographs No. 5 to 16 inclusive of various developments which have been authorised by Roscommon County Council in recent years along the lakeshore of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) and not appealed to your Board which demonstrate radical alteration to the unspoiled character of this area.


We have marked these photographs' numbers onto Map No. 3 [Exhibit "D"]. In each instance Roscommon County Council relied heavily on the retention and augmentation of the existing indigenous hedgerows to screen the individual developments from the lake in their grant of planning. This control policy has been a total failure in that in all instances hedgerow has been removed to avail of lake views.


We note also that most of these developments have led to further development in the form of jetties/moorings along the lakeshore for which we can find no corresponding development consent. In this regard, we would respectfully request your Board to inspect the planning register for the area around Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) to assess the development pressure that forms the background to this application.



3. Having regard to the sloping nature of the site and lands towards the river/lake, the ground conditions on the site, the density of the adjacent ditches/drains, the presence on the site of a watercourse issuing into Lough Eidin (Drumharlow), it is considered that notwithstanding the proposed use of a proprietary treatment system the development would constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and would be prejudicial to public health.


This area of northern Roscommon is characterised by poor land drainage. The proposed site is located on approximately 27 acres of poor quality farmland along the eastern shore of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). These farmlands are heavily covered with rush growth and are sub-divided into small FIElds by ditches/drains with poorly structured indigenous whitethorn hedgerows. Concerns about pollution reaching the lake/river were one of the grounds of the Board's decision in refusing the applicant on this holding previously.


In both of Friends of the Irish Environment's previous recent appeals in this im- Mediate area of north Roscommon [ABP PL 20.125559 and ABP PL 20.126481] the matter of drainage has been an essential element. We drew the Board's attention to seven recent intrusive developments given consent by Roscommon County Council where visual inspection clearly indicates that the soil is totally unsuitable for septic tank percolation areas: 99/681, 99/682, 00/909, 00/910, 01/20, 99/681, and 99/682. This is not a simple oversight but an administrative pattern which permits development consent without suitable assessment.


Of particular note is a bungalow with septic tank percolation area under construction which is located in a turlough in the townland of Knockacorha [01/391]. This dramatic example of a breakdown in planning control was granted after several previous refusals on the grounds of inadequate site lines at other locations on the family's holdings. It is clear, however, that the planning authority failed to carry out even a simple visual assessment of the site which would have identified said turlough.


In the present case the applicant failed to provide percolation tests to the standards of SR6 1991 and the EPA 2000 and these were accepted by the local authority.


Our Inspector's visit to the site took place on 9 June, 2001, the day after the promoters of a proprietory treatment system had opened an excavation pit and dug trial holes. All were still extant on the site and several percolation test holes still contained water, although there had been no significant rainfall since the test.


The soil profile is circa 300 mm of top soil on clay silt of 6 to 8 feet. There is no appreciable drainage under the top soil. This soil is classified as Association 27 and defined by the consultant Eugene Daly in his report [Assessment of the Results of Percolation Tests and the Potential Impact (Water) of a Proposed Development at Kilmacarrill, County Roscommon]:


"These are heavy textured generally poorly drained, drumlin soils".


The Board's Inspector on the previous application at this site noted:


"The ground conditions were heavy underfoot at the time of inspection and there was extensive growth of rushes throughout. The extent of rushes, together with the evidence of surface water runoff, would indicate that the site has poor natural drainage." [Inspector's Report 2.2, 20.121715]


The present site of the percolation area has similar characteristics. The developer's agent's argument that there were "favourable ground conditions found on the site" [Applicant's agent's letter to the planning authority of 11 July, 2001, p. 3] is not supported by the Board's own Inspector's examination in the previous application in January 2001 or by the report made to us of a site inspection undertaken on 29th September, 2001. This inspection noted the following:


1) "The applicant's lands are covered in heavy rush growth. Adjoining farm lands are also covered in rush growth. There is extensive rush growth on the site of the percolation area.

2) There is a high density of ditches/drains on the applicant's lands.

3) There is clear visual evidence of animal poaching of the land during the summer months.


Heavy rainfall fell on this area during the afternoon of the 29th September. The water ponded all over the lands in cow pats and poached areas, etc. Water also ponded in three of the percolation test holes still open at the site of the proposed percolation area. This water did not soak away from the test holes over a three hour period, clearly indicating that soakage is non-existent below the top soil layer."


Disturbed at the state of the percolation tests holes and excavation pit on our Inspector's site visit of June 9, 2001, Friends of the Irish Environment requested a further percolation test by an independent body. This was not performed. Instead, a Mr Eugene Daly assessed the existing test. His report [Assessment of the Results of Percolation Tests and the Potential Impact (Water) of a Proposed Development at Kilmacarrill, County Roscommon] made it quite clear that the tests which had been performed did not conform to the test procedure of SR6 of 1991 and the EPA 2000.


He states the test is "almost identical" to SR6. He explains the manner in which the test is not identical and does not conform to the official procedures by stating that it is "more appropriate for the site to take the starting point at 150 mm below ground level where the topsoil level is quite thick."


This is at variance with the standards set which require requires a "300 mm square percolation test hole to be excavated to a depth of 400 mm below the invert of the proposed distribution pipe". The time is taken for the water to fall from a "height of 300 mm to 200 mm above the base of the test hole". [Wastewater Treatment Manuals, Treatment Systems for Single Houses, EPA, p. 25, emphasis added.]


We have been unable to find any justification for not following the procedures set down in SR 6 of 1991 and by the EPA's Wastewater Treatment Manuals, Treatment Systems for Single Houses. We would respectfully request the Board to seek further information as to why it was "more appropriate" to take the starting point in the top soil at 150 mm below the surface rather than from 300 mm above the base of the test hole as required by the published Guidelines. We would again request tests to be done by a suitably qualified independent party to adhere to the standards of SR 6 of 1991 and EPA 2000.


If the applicant's agent had completed the simple percolation test in accordance with SR6 of 1991 and EPA 2000 this information would have been available to the planning authority.


Finally, the Environmental Assessment Report states "There are no watercourses located in the vicinity of the proposed area designated for the BioCycle Wastewater treatment and disposal system". The developer's agent also states that "there are no watercourses in the vicinity of the selected site" [Applicant's agent's letter of 11 July, 2001, p. 3].


It is not until we examine the report prepared at the request of the Friends of the Irish Environment by Eugene Daly [Assessment of the Results of Percolation Tests and the Potential Impact (Water) of a Proposed Development at Kilmacarrill, County Roscommon] that we are made aware on the first page that "A small, south-westerly flowing, stream flows into the lake through the southern part of the site".


We attach a copy of the relevant part of the applicant's site map which shows this watercourse marked clearly with feathered arrows which we have coloured yellow [Exhibit H]. This watercourse is also the Townland boundary. We have also coloured yellow the drain running from the FIEld beneath the proposed site of the percolation area to this watercourse. In fact the ditches which form the boundaries of the FIEld marked 1.477 which is the site of the percolation area and the neighbouring FIEld 1.119 join a network of drains which are collected in this watercourse which in turn exits directly into Lough Eidin (Drumharlow).


Thus it is difficult to understand the applicant's agent's contention that the "sewage treatment plant and associated percolation area which is in a part of the site does not slope towards the lake or to any existing water course" [Applicant's letter of 11 July, 2001, p. 3] given the stream that his own expert records.


This watercourse is clearly marked on the "Location Plan III" which is reproduced on page 13 of the Design Proposal for a Wastewater Treatment System, Biocycle Ltd. and on page 19 of the Environmental Assessment Report, Pollution and Waste Services Ltd. Taken in combination with the drains and ditches which define the small FIElds in the area and notwithstanding the proposed use of a proprietary treatment system, the development must constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and risk to public health.



4. It is considered that the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard, because of the additional traffic generated by the proposed development, on a narrow substandard network of local roads linking the site of the proposed development with either Carrick-on-Shannon and/or Cootehall/National Primary Route N4.


The local public road serving this area is seriously defective in both horizontal and vertical alignment and width. This road measures 2.80 metres in width in the townland of Drumsillagh.


There is an inadequate and defective sightline at the existing junction of the entrance roadway with the Local Public road system L92. There is an inadequate and defective road gradient on the entrance roadway at this junction.


These site lines are clearly inadequate in both directions. While this is understandable and acceptable to serve a single landowner as at present, the development of a road off the existing access road within the townland to serve three landowners [see Road Improvement Application Form, Exhibit "I"] is an unacceptable intensification. While it is not clear from the evidence supplied to the local authority that we are aware of, this road appears to be intended to serve not only subject application but the application deemed withdrawn by your board in April 2001 [PL 20. 123585] and the application currently before the local authority.


We would draw the Board's attention to a development of nine holiday homes in Cleaheen Townland [Map No. 3, near "W"], where the site entrance has become notorious as a lethal "blind" junction, an especially serious matter where visitors to the area may not be accustomed to the local traffic patterns. This development also intrudes on the River Shannon and it is difficult to understand the planning authority's rationale in permitting any development at this location.


The entrance to private lands from County Road L92 and the general nature of the roads in this area can not sustain the level of traffic that this development will generate of itself and through its precedent value.



5. The proposed development is located adjacent to the shore of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow). It is an objective of the planning authority as expressed in the Roscommon County Development Plan 1993 and of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, the Gaelteachta and the Islands as expressed in the designation of a Natural Heritage Area under the Wildlife (Amendment( Act 2000 to protect this area of ornithological and ecological importance. Having regard to the location of the proposed development and the wording of the planning permission in relation to site development and landscaping it is considered that the proposed development would conflict with this objective.


The site and lands of this proposed development are completely exposed along the shoreline of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow) from a security aspect given the status of the applicant. While planning permission is rightly concerned with the use of land and not an individual applicant, security measures to protect a head of state at this location will have to address the site's exposure along the lakeshore and it is difficult to see how the necessary measures can fail to have a significant adverse affect on this area of ornithological and ecological importance.


We respectfully draw the Board's attention to the fact that there are two separate site development and landscaping clauses contained in this permission.


The first is the site development and landscaping works "associated" with the "dwelling house, garage, and outbuildings." The second is "Site Development and Landscape works; at all Kilmacarrill Townland, Cootehall, Co. Roscommon".


The punctuation is unusual but the meaning is clear. The final words of the development consent authorise site development and landscaping works throughout the 27 acres of the site. There are no conditions attached to this site development and landscaping clause beyond condition 10 which is a standard clause requiring a screen belt along the site boundaries.


Given the extent of this clause, we are at a loss to understand the applicant's agent's claim in his submission to the local authority that:


"there is no associated lakeshore development included in this revised planning application so that development proposal could not in any real sense have any material impact upon the ecology or natural environment of the area." [Applicant's agent's letter to the planning authority of 11 July, 2001, p. 4]


Is it credible to suggest that a grant of permission for site development work and landscaping covering 27 acres in some way protects the delicate ecology of the lakeshore and the applicant's natural desire to access this amenity?


What site work is proposed? Given the extent of the transformation that the standard suburban one-off bungalow can and does create within its curtiledge, to extend this permission to cover the full extent of the 27 acres adjoining an area in which "are used by a flock of Greenland white-fronted geese" does not seem credible. [Site Synopsis, Lough Drumharlow, Natural Heritage Area Site Code 001643, Exhibit "J"]


In this context, we note the Inspector's comments recommending refusal for the previous application on this site:


"The proposed lawn and the planting of evergreen shrub varieties of escalonia and laurel would conflict with the form and character of the FIEld and hedgerow pattern and would be incongruous in this setting." (Visual Impact, Inspector's Report PL 20.121715]


27 acres of such site development and landscaping would dwarf a simple lawn and a few evergreen shrubs, which, if any cover is to be provided, must be planted at such an exposed location.


In one of our recent appeals against a decision of this local authority on a particularly incongruous and intrusive bungalow [PL 20. 125559] we noted:


"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."


All of this regularly takes place as exempt under the planning regulations. What then does this condition imply in the right of the applicant to transform this unspoiled rural 27 acre area on the shore of Drumharlow? If nothing else, it erodes entirely the planning authorities contention that an "adequate landholding" somehow mitigates an intrusive development.


6. The applicant's contention that the rebuilding of the ruins on the site is exempted development under S.4.(1)(g) of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963 exceeds the intention of the legislation and is contrary to the recommendation of Duchas, the Heritage Service.


S.4.(1)(g) of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963 states:


"Development consisting of the carrying out of works for the maintenance, improvement, or other alteration of any structure being works which effect only the interior of the structure or which do not materially affect the external appearance of the structure so as to render such appearance inconsistent with the character of the structure or of neighbouring structures."


The applicant's agent suggests that the proposed refurbishment of the existing ruins on the site as "outbuildings" is exempted development by reference to this section of the 1963 Act.


This raises three questions:

¬? Is the proposal to reconstruct these roofless derelict ruins as outbuildings covered by this exemption?

¬? What effect will the proposal to reconstruct these buildings have on the existing conditions of the permission and the im- Mediate environment?

¬? How does the proposal to reconstruct these dwellings accord with the recommendations of Duchas made in connection with the previous application at this location?


6.1 Extent of S 4.(1)(g)

This section of the Act is described in Sullivan and Shepard as a "liberal but dangerous source of exemption" [Irish Planning Law and Practice, O'Sullivan and Sheppard, Butterworths, 10.304] The authors continue to explain that "its intention is presumably to allow ordinary small scale works of maintenance, improvement, or alteration". The authors suggest that a planning authority take "great care before certifying the exempted status of any development to being in accordance with this section".


Clearly the proposal does not fall within the definition of "maintenance" of these roofless ruins. Equally the roofing, flooring, new windows, doors, etc. exceed the ambit of the term "improvement", which relates to steel shutters, ramps, replacement glazed mahogany doors, etc. The roofing, flooring, new windows, doors, etc of an existing ruin also go far beyond "alterations". If the roofing, flooring, new windows, doors, etc of a derelict ruin is permitted as exempted development, planning control would be open to widespread and systematic abuse at the site of every ruin in the countryside.


6.2 The effect of the proposed exemption

The proposed works will materially effect the existing external appearance of the structure and render such appearances inconsistent with the existing character of the structures and their surroundings.


The change in visual appearance from a derelict ruin to a functioning outbuilding on the skyline at the summit of a hill will inevitably increase the visual impact of a development which is already inescapable and intrusive when viewed from Lough Eidin/Drumharlow and the River Shannon.


The renovations of such derelict structures will disturb and unsettle the indigenous hedgerows and therefore the landscape at this location which it is a condition of the planning permission to maintain in the interest of visual amenity (Condition 9).


6.3 Recommendations of Duchas, the Heritage Service

In a submission made to your Board by Duchas, the Heritage Service of the Minister for the Arts, Heritage, Gaeltachta and the Islands on 10 January, 2001, [Exhibit "K"] the applicant's stated intention to demolish these ruins was addressed and the Government's policy outlined:


"Where it is proposed to develop sites containing existing vernacular buildings we normally request that these be retained, even if they are in disrepair."


In this case, the Duchas submission noted that one of these ruins appears on the First Edition of the Ordinance Survey Map c.1838.


In support of their recommendation, the submission quotes the ratification by the General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites of the 'ICOMOS Charter on the Built Vernacular heritage' in October 1999. The Charter describes the built vernacular heritage as important as '…the fundamental expression of the culture of a community, of its relationship with its territory and, at the same time, the expression of the world's cultural diversity…'


To permit the applicant to reconstruct these buildings as exempt development exceeds the intention of the legislation and is also contrary to the policy of the Minister as expressed through Duchas, the Heritage Service, to your Board on 10 January, 2001.




7. Conclusion

While accepting that the applicant has attempted a "fundamental reevaluation of the environmental capabilities of this particular property" to meet the reasons for refusal of the Board in your Order of 6 February, 2001, we suggest that each reason for refusal remains one that for reasons of Development Plan Policy, public health, environmental protection, and planning precedent the Board must clearly refuse.


Our survey of lakeside developments in relation to hedgerows conditions [Exhibit "G"] also highlights the unauthorised jetties which are proliferating in this area and demonstrates the pressure of development in the area of Lough Eidin/Drumharlow. This application has attracted public interest in the present and will do so in the future. Precedent will be established. We urge your Board to apply fair and reasonable standards and to do justice, and let justice be seen to be done.


We leave the final words to Brendan McGrath, Clare Senior Executive Planner, speaking at the National Planning Conference 2001 held by the Irish Planning Institute. 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."


An Bord Pleanála
Inspector's Report

1.0 APPEAL DETAILS
1.1 An Bord Pleanála Ref. No.: PL20.126871
1.2 Planning Authority: Roscommon County Council.
1.3 Planning Authority Ref. No.: 01/1077.
1.4 Applicant: Martin McAleese.
1.5 Nature of Application: Permission.
1.6 Planning Authority Decision: Grant subject to 11 no. conditions.
1.7 Location: Kilmacarril Townland, Cootehall, County Roscommon.
1.8 Description of Development: Erection of a single storey dwelling, garage, outbuildings, access road and associated site development works.
1.9 Appeal Type: Third Party (Friends of the Irish Environment) -v- Grant.
1.10 Observers: An Taisce.

2.0 SITE CONTEXT AND DEVELOPMENT DETAILS

2.1 Inspection Date

The appeal site was inspected on 23rd January, 2002, and a photographic survey of same is appended to this report.

2.2 Site Location and Description

The appeal site is located in the townland of Kilmacarril, approximately 3 kilometres north-west of Carrick-on-Shannon as the crow flies. The site is accessed via a Third Class Road (LP92) running to the east of Lough Eidin, from which branches an unclassified single track road which currently serves one other dwellinghouse which is of modern construction and located on a hilltop visible from the Third Class Road. This metalled road branches off in a south-west direction before terminating. The metalled road is approximately 500 metres in length from the Third Class Road to the point of termination. Thereafter, the proposed access route runs along the base of the hill upon which the proposed dwelling will be situated and then curves up the hill to a proposed parking area to the east of the dwellinghouse. The distance from the end of the metalled road to the proposed structures is approximately 250 metres. The appeal site is comprised of two fields, the smaller square-shaped field is at the crest of the hill and is bounded by hedgerows to the east, north and west. Within this field there is a ruin of the former dwelling, which is in a state of collapse and is overgrown with vegetation. The southern boundary of this small field and the northern boundary of the rectangular-shaped field to the south-east is formed by a mixture of trees and sparse hedgerow. The rectangular-shaped field slopes downward from the ruined house to the existing earth track, from which access is proposed. The east, south and western boundaries of the rectangular field are comprised of hedgerows. The appeal site appears to have been recently used for cattle grazing and there is evidence of a trial hole being dug in the slope of the rectangular field, presumably in connection with the proposed development. The proposed structures are located approximately 200 metres from the shore of Lough Eidin, on the crest of a hill which slopes away from the site to the north and west to the lakeshore. To the south the hill runs into a marshy valley which drains into Lough Eidin.

2.3 Description of Proposed Development

It is proposed to erect a four bedroom, single storey dwelling to a off-set T-shaped plan in a style that is respectful of vernacular and traditional architecture but which is contemporary in its layout, elevational features and detailing. The dwellinghouse (and the other structures) are located on the crest of the hill in the smaller of the two fields as previously described and the dwellinghouse faces both the north and western boundaries of the site. To the east of the dwellinghouse is a courtyard and further east is a single storey store/fuel and oil tank area, as well as a single storey garage. The dwelling, store and garage all have pitched roofs, while a small garden store structure is flat roofed. It should be noted that the existing ruins on the site appear to be retained but it appears that the existing hedgerow/tree belt (with the exception of the largest tree) dividing the two fields will be removed to accommodate the curving access road as per Drg. No. PP/01b. This drawing also indicates the location of the sewage treatment plant, which is approximately 45 metres from the dwellinghouse and also the percolation area located on the south-facing slope of the rectangular field.

3.0 PLANNING CONTEXT

3.1 Planning History

Ref. PL20.121715 relates to Planning Authority file Ref. 00/898, which was an application by Martin McAleese for a two-storey dwellinghouse, together with outbuildings, jetty and associated site development works, including the provision of a sewage treatment unit and percolation area, at a site adjacent to and north-west of the present dwelling site. In that case, the Planning Authority granted permission on 14th September, 2000, for the proposed works subject to 13 no. conditions. This decision was appealed to the Board by Friends of the Irish Environment (the Third Party Appellants in the present case) and An Taisce. By order dated 6th February, 2001, the Board overturned the Planning Authority decision and refused permission for the proposed development for three reasons. These reasons relate in summary to the visually obtrusive nature of the development which would contravene the Roscommon County Development Plan, the potential for ornithological and ecological damage associated with the jetty proposal and proximity of the proposed dwelling in contravention of the County Development Plan and also the unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and to public health that would arise from the effluent treatment system.

3.2 Planning Authority Reports

A report by the Area Executive Engineer, dated 17th August, 2001, notes with respect to the septic tank/effluent tank system that the foul discharge pipe from the proposed house should avoid interference with the existing stone ruins as the drawings show this pipe undercutting the corner of one. With reference to access arrangements, this report states that the "existing private road accessing the site off public road LP No. 92, with condition that any large vehicles or heavy loads accessing or leaving site do so only via Cootehall Village (i.e. west end of LP 92) and not via Hartley Bridge (i.e. east end of LP 92)." With reference to the building design and amenity, the Area Executive Engineer's report states that the tops of the walls, roofing and chimneys will be to some extent visible from amenity waterway and recommends the reinforcement of existing hedgerows and trees with further native broadleaf species. With reference to piped services, the report states that details of the proposed necessary long lengths of piping to existing public watermain be in accordance with the Planning Authority's requirements. Under the general section, this report states that a Section 38 agreement will be required.
A report by the Chief Fire Officer is dated July 1998 and seeks compliance for the structures with the 1997 Building Regulations.
A report signed by the Senior Executive Engineer, dated 13th September, 2001, and by the County Engineer, dated 12th September, 2001, notes that the site is located at the highest point of the landholding which slopes up from the lakeshore and which is criss-crossed by indigenous hedgerows with young and semi-mature trees. The report notes that there are two ruins of stone buildings on the site and also notes that the proposed structures will be constructed of natural materials of stone, timber and natural slate. The report notes that the existing ruins will be retained and that the proposed structures will be located approximately 200 metres from the lakeshore.
The report notes that effluent disposal is by way of a proprietary treatment system and a percolation area and that SR6 tests carried out on site in 6 no. test holes recorded T-values between 27 and 71, with five test holes retaining T-values less than 60. The report notes that the water table was recorded at 1-85 metres. The report notes the refusal by the Board of the previous application as outlined in Section 3.1 above.
The report continues that Lough Endrin (presumably another name for Lough Eidin) is a designated National Heritage Area under the Wildlife (Amendments) Bill, 1999, and is on the navigation channel for the Shannon water. The report states that submissions have been received from An Taisce and the Area Engineer and notes that An Taisce sets out the broad terms of its recommendations for dealing with development of one-off housing in rural areas with particular regard to environmentally sensitive areas. The report notes that no objection to the proposed development has been raised by the Area Engineer and that a submission by Friends of the Irish Environment contained no substantial comment.
The report concludes that "the proposed development is in accordance with the proper planning and development of the area (including the preservation and improvement of the amenities thereof), the provisions of the County Development Plan and the matters referred to in subsection 2 of Section 26 of the Local Government (Planning & Development) Act, 1963, as amended. I consider therefore that permission should be granted subject to the conditions set out in the attached Schedule".

3.3 Decision Details

The County Manager's Order deciding to grant permission was issued on 13th September, 2001, subject to 11 no. conditions. The conditions are largely of a standard nature for development in a rural area and the first condition is a standard compliance with application documents condition. The second condition relates to the effluent treatment system and its functioning, while the third condition states that the dwelling shall be first occupied by the Applicant or by a member of his immediate family. The fourth condition sterilises the remainder of the site from non-agricultural development for a minimum period of ten years on foot of a Section 38 agreement. Condition No. 5 provides for full details of the construction of the proposed access road which are subject to the written agreement of the Planning Authority. Condition No. 6 relates to the routing of construction traffic accessing the site via Cootehall Village and not via Hartley Bridge. Condition No. 7 relates to the protection of road drainage and Condition No. 8 relates to the collection of surface water run-off from the proposed structures and the disposal of same to on-site soakpits/drains/adjacent watercourses. Condition No. 9 relates to the protection of existing trees and hedgerows, while Condition No. 10 requires a supplementary planting scheme to be drawn up and implemented in the first planting season following occupation of the proposed dwelling. Condition No. 11 relates to an appropriate service charge with respect to connection to the public watermain but this charge is not specified in the Schedule of conditions.

3.4 Development Plan Provisions

The Roscommon County Development Plan, 1993, is the statutory plan for the area and outlined below are relevant extracts from same:-

Analysis of Survey

The Environment - Development in the Countryside (P. 10)

There are long-standing pressures for new houses in the countryside It is important that any such developments in rural areas are in keeping with the rural character of the area and that those developments that are more appropriate to towns and villages are directed towards towns and villages in the county.
Agriculture remains the most important industry in the County and, notwithstanding the strengthening of its urban structure, Roscommon will continue to have a large rural population. New developments will therefore continue to be located in the countryside and the Plan's policies will determine the types of development which are acceptable along with the principles of location, siting and design to be applied.

The Environment - Residential Development in the Countryside (Pgs. 11/12)

The main problem areas related to rural housing are:

¬? uneconomic provision and demand for public services;
¬? urban generated housing, already discussed in Settlement Structure section;
¬? a build up of houses, leading to the loss of rural character;
¬? a build up of houses leading to pollution dangers; and
¬? a loss of visual amenity by individual rural houses being badly sited and inappropriately designed for their rural location.

The rural environment can be protected from the visually detrimental consequences of new housing by seeking high standards of siting and design so that each new house is integrated into its rural setting, and by avoiding new groupings of houses which lead to the problems of loss of visual amenity, pollution and eventually uneconomic service costs.

Development Strategy

Housing Policy (P. 15)

¬? To ensure that housing proposals do not cause traffic or environmental problems or damage visual amenity.

People will continue to exercise choice to build individual houses in the countryside. The Plan's policy is to facilitate this by requiring that the houses are located, sited and designed to ensure that they do not have detrimental environmental or traffic safety effects. (P. 16)

The Environment

Policy (P. 22)

¬? To conserve and preserve the important assets of the natural and built environment in the County.
¬? To seek high standards of design in all development proposals.
¬? To ensure that all developments in rural areas are in harmony with the surrounding environment in respect of use and appearance.

Objectives (Pgs. 22/23/24)

¬? To protect the Areas of Scientific Interest in the County listed in Schedule 8. (Lough Drumharlow is a designated Area of Scientific Interest noted for its ecological and ornithological value.)
¬? To ensure that development proposals in the area of the Shannon are generally located within existing centres, and to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity.

…Damaging, unsympathetic or visually obtrusive developments, such as sporadic housing, are to be particularly avoided in this (Shannon River) area.
Planning Control (P. 32)

Introduction

The principles of planning control in rural areas are to facilitate appropriate rural developments whilst ensuring that they do not cause traffic or environmental problems including damage to visual amenity…

Residential Development

An essential characteristic of the rural policy is to ensure that each new development is individually located within its rural setting and, by good siting and design, harmonises with it. Residential development proposals should normally be for single houses only.

4.0 THIRD PARTY APPEAL

The appeal submitted by Friends of the Irish Environment relates in summary to six grounds of appeal:-
¬? The negative visual impact of the proposed development would be contrary to County Development Plan provisions.
¬? The proposed development, taken in conjunction with existing development along the shoreline of Lough Eidin, would constitute overdevelopment in a rural area contrary to Development Plan policies.
¬? Notwithstanding the proposed use of a proprietary treatment system, the development would constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and would be prejudicial to public health.
¬? The proposed development, by means of its access, would constitute a traffic hazard.
¬? The proposed development would conflict with objectives of the County Development Plan in respect of protecting the ornithological and ecological importance of Lough Eidin.
¬? The rebuilding of the ruins on the site does not constitute exempted development under Section 4(1)(g) of the 1963 Act as stated by the Applicant.

With reference to the visual impact issue, the Appellant states that Lough Eidin, along with the Oakport Lough and Lough Key, form the Boyle River system which is a tributary of the River Shannon. The Appellant states that the Inspector's Report on the previous application at this location (PL20.121715) recognised the importance of Lough Eidin as part of the Shannon Navigation System and as an important gateway when commencing a river journey in a north-westerly direction from the cruising centre of Carrick-on-Shannon. The Appellant states that this river/lake network is the major natural tourism resource for County Roscommon as recognised by the Roscommon County Development Plan, 1993, the Roscommon County Draft Development Plan, 2000, the Brady Shipman Martin Lough Key Study Report, 1981, and the Draft Lough Key Plan, which is about to be ratified by the County Council.
The Appellant states that the proposed development contravenes several sections of the 1993 Development Plan - housing (page 14), transport (page 16), recreation, tourism and community facilities (page 25), water and sanitary services (page 13), environment (page 22), planning control policies (pages 32-37) and also septic tank installation standards (page 40). The Appellant states that it is an objective of the Development Plan to "ensure that development proposals in the area of the Shannon are generally located within existing centres, and to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity". The Appellant quotes from the Inspector's Report in respect of PL20.121715, where the Inspector notes the quoted section of the Development Plan above.
With reference to the planning history of the area, the Appellant states that the Board's decisions on appeals brought before it with respect to development on the shores of Lough Eidin have been consistent in its refusals and quotes six cases to substantiate this claim.
The Appellant states that the reduction in height and the improvement in the quality of design of the proposed dwelling has to be acknowledged, but the Appellant states that the visual impact of the proposed development has been reinforced by the increased height of the revised site location. The Appellant states that the site of the dwelling has been relocated to the summit of a Drumlin on the highest part of the farmland, on the crown of a hill, and that the cover letter with the application is incorrect to refer to the extensive use of backdrop of land as there can be no backdrop of land at this new and elevated location. The Appellant states that the proposed development is substantially higher than the previous proposal which was refused by the Board and states that the windows will be approximately 18 metres above the lakeshore level and that the development "will form an inescapable and intrusive feature on the landscape by day and provide a beacon-like illumination at night over a wide area of the River Shannon and Lough Eidin".
With reference to the issue of overdevelopment of the area, the Appellant queries the status of the Applicant and whether or not the Applicant is the owner or potential purchaser of the appeal site. The Appellant argues that the Applicant, Dr. Martin McAleese, is a dentist residing in Dublin and is married to President Mary McAleese. Accordingly, the Appellant argues that although family connections with the townlands of Ardglass and Carroward exist, the Applicant and the immediate family have no past connection or ties with the townland of Kilmacarril or any of the neighbouring townlands on the north-eastern side of the Boyle River/Lough Eidin. On this basis, the Appellant argues that the Applicant did not claim to be a farmer or hold farmland in submitting the planning application and does not, therefore, qualify for the "family member involved with running a farm" justification for rural housing. The Appellant argues that 27 acres of farmland in this area is not viable and queries whether future agricultural buildings will be required on the Applicant's land. The Appellant states that the purpose of acquiring the appeal site is its location in an area of high visual amenity adjacent and accessible to the shoreline of Lough Eidin and not for agricultural purposes. The Appellant refers to attachments to the appeal document relating to the sale of other properties in the area and argues that a grant of planning permission in the present instance would set an undesirable precedent for development around the lake which would adversely affect the sustainability of the land to support the agricultural community.
The Appellant states that the proposed development is heavily reliant on the existing hedgerow systems surrounding the site to screen the elevated development from Lough Eidin and encloses photographs to substantiate same. The Appellant argues that some of the screening has been removed and that the remainder is not sufficient to screen the proposed development from viewpoints around the lake. The Appellant attaches examples of developments on the lakeshore of Lough Eidin which were not appealed to the Board which demonstrate the radical alteration to the unspoilt character of the lakeshore area. The Appellant argues that the reliance on hedgerows to screen developments in the countryside is not appropriate as in all instances hedgerows have been removed to avail of lake views. In addition, the Appellant states that lakeshore developments invariably have jetties and moorings constructed on the lakeshore, usually without the benefit of planning permission.
With reference to sewage disposal, the Appellant states that the land in the area is characterised by poor drainage and that concerns about pollution reaching the lake/river was one of the grounds of the Board's previous decision in refusing the Applicant's proposal on the adjacent site. The Appellant gives references for seven recent grants of permission where visual inspection clearly indicates that the soil is totally unsuitable for septic tank percolation areas on page 7 on the appeal submission, including one, Ref. 01/391, where the septic tank percolation area is located in a turlough. The Appellant argues that the Applicant has failed to provide percolation tests to the standards of SR6:1991 and the EPA Wastewater Treatment System for Single Houses 2000. The Appellant states that the report submitted by the Applicant, which was carried out by Mr. Eugene Daly, is not the equivalent of SR6:1991 or the EPA's Wastewater Treatment Manual for Single Houses, 2000, and that a site visit by Friends of the Irish Environment noted ponding of water in three of the percolation test holes open at the site on 29th September, 2001, which did not soak away from the test holes over a three hour period. The Appellant states that this indicates that soakage is non-existent below the top soil layer and that a proper inspection in conformity with SR6:1991 and the EPA Wastewater Treatment Manual would have proved same. The Appellant states that the Applicant is not correct in stating that there are no watercourses located in the vicinity of the proposed area designated for the Biocycle wastewater treatment and disposal system and marks the course of a small stream that flows into the lake through the southern part of the site on Exhibit H attached to the appeal document. The Appellant concludes that the proposed wastewater treatment system, given the system of drains and ditches that define the small fields in the area, must constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and risk to public health.
With reference to traffic hazard, the Appellant states that the local public road serving this area is seriously defective in both horizontal and vertical alignment and also in width, measuring only 2.8 metres in the townland of Drumsillagh. The Appellant adds that there is an inadequate and defective sightline at the existing junction of the entrance roadway with the local public road system L92 and that the road gradient on the entrance roadway at this junction is also defective. The Appellant accepts that this road junction may be adequate to serve one dwelling but that any further dwellings represents an unacceptable intensification of the use of the road and hence raises the potential level of traffic hazard associated with this junction.
With reference to the ornithological and ecological issues, the Appellant states that planning consent includes a provision for site development and landscape works which, presumably, given the required security measures, will have a significant adverse effect on this area of ornithological and ecological importance. The Appellant refers to the weakness of Condition No. 10, which requires a screen belt along the site boundaries and argues that site development work and landscaping covering 27 acres of the site will have an adverse impact on the ecology of the area, in particular, an area used by greenland white-fronted geese (see Exhibit J of the Appellant's submission). The Appellant argues that with the erection of a dwellinghouse much of the transformation of the 27 acre holding by landscaping or other works would constitute exempted development under the Planning Regulations.
With reference to the rebuilding of the ruins at the appeal site, the Appellant disagrees with the Applicant's suggestion that the refurbishment of the existing rooms on the site as outbuildings is exempted development under Section 4(1)(g) of the Local Government (Planning & Development) Act, 1963, as these works fall outside the scope of this legislation. The Appellant argues that the works to the ruins neither constitute maintenance, improvement, or alterations as specified by Section 4(1)(g) and that the proposed works would materially affect the appearance of the structures and render this appearance inconsistent with the existing character of the structures and their surroundings. The Appellant argues that the change in visual appearance from a derelict ruin to a functioning outbuilding on the skyline at the summit of a hill will inevitably increase the visual impact of a development which is already inescapable and intrusive when viewed from Lough Eidin and the River Shannon. The Appellant argues that works to the derelict structures would disturb and unsettle the existing hedgerows and landscape at the location which would be contrary to the provisions of Condition No. 9 attached to the grant of permission. The Appellant refers to a D??chas letter, dated 10th January (Exhibit K), which notes that one of the ruins appeared on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey Map c. 1938 and advises to retain derelict buildings on site even if they are in disrepair. The Appellant states that to permit the Applicant to reconstruct these buildings as exempted development exceeds the intention of the legislation and is contrary to the advice of D??chas, The Heritage Service.
In conclusion, the Appellant states that the proposed development should be refused for reasons of Development Plan policy, public health, environmental protection and planning precedent. The Appellant quotes from a speaker at the National Planning Conference 2001, held by the Irish Planning Institute in relation to the unsustainability of urban-generated rural housing to which I draw the Board's attention.

5.0 OBSERVERS' SUBMISSION

An Taisce begin their observation by stating that "we consider that this application is unsustainable, fails to show 'need', breaches the Roscommon County Development Plan, fails to assimilate the implications of the previous An Bord Pleanála refusal, and creates the danger that permission would constitute a dangerous precedent". The Observer makes points regarding the Rural Renewal Scheme (RRS), sustainability, the issue of need, the Roscommon County Development Plan, 1993, the previous refusal by An Bord Pleanála and the issue of precedent.
With reference to the Rural Renewal Scheme, which provides for tax relief areas in the Upper Shannon region, the Observer states that no attempt has been made to link privilege of tax designation to broad quality standards. The Observer is of the opinion that the Upper Shannon region is now subject to particular development pressures and that the local planning regime is not well place to deliver balanced and integrated development. The Observer quotes from a document entitled 'Heritage Appraisal of the Pilot Rural Renewal Scheme for the Upper Shannon, 2001' by Tyldesley & Associates, produced by the Heritage Council, which states, in Section 9.5, that the Development Plan policy framework is inadequate to deal with the development pressures and the changes likely to be experienced in the Rural Renewal Scheme area and that the longer term cumulative effects of development will potentially damage the outstanding heritage on which the Rural Renewal Scheme area will depend in future for its sustainable tourism and economy. The Observer asks the Board to take a stringent stance in dealing with unsustainable development and states that in the present instance the main issue is sustainable development and that aesthetics is a minor and esoteric concern by comparison. With respect to this, the Observer states that the significant visual improvements that have been effected in the treatment of the site vis-?†-vis an earlier application from the same Applicant is simply inadequate. The Observer states that the Spatial Strategy Unit of the Department of the Environment highlighted that 36% of housing at a time of significant development is being built as one-off housing in the countryside.
With reference to the issue of sustainability, the Observer states that the proposed scheme is a one-off house and not a sensitive restoration of a vernacular building and that while the Applicant's landholding incorporates the remains of at least two houses, these have been ruinous since at least the early 20th century and relate to agricultural small holding divisions no longer applicable to the site. The Observer notes that the Applicant is not proposing to incorporate any of these houses into the dwelling and in any event the age, condition and sensitivity of these particular houses militates against the desirability of such an approach. The Observer considers that, in general, one-off housing in the countryside tends to be less sustainable than high density development to high design, environmental and social standards in brownfield, infill and backland sites in cities, towns and most relevantly, in villages. The Observer states that there are sound economic, social, environmental and transport related reasons for this preference. The Observer states that the proposed development runs counter to An Taisce's policy on one-off houses in the countryside (copy attached to the Observer submission) in the following respects:-

¬? New one-off housing should not generally be permitted.
¬? Where landscape or natural environment is of high quality or sensitivity, no development should be permitted.
¬? In other areas, new one-off housing should only be permitted for current local residents and for people who primarily work or intend to work on the land or from their dwelling. Furthermore, there must be a compelling social need which should be documented in writing for the attention of the Planning Authorities.
¬? The viability of alternatives, including building in nearby towns and villages, should be investigated and documented because in most cases the economic, social, health and even community infrastructure in the towns and villages is superior.

With reference to the issue of need, the Observer states that the Applicant is not local and there is no evidence of compelling social need. In addition, the Observer states that there is no information as to what agricultural management mechanism is proposed for the 27 acre holding or as to how a dwelling is required on this land in order to manage its agricultural use.
With reference to the provisions of the Roscommon County Development Plan, the Observer draws the Board's attention to page 22 of the 1993 County Development Plan, which states that it is an objective "to conserve and preserve the important assets of the natural and built environment in the County" and also to the Shannon policies and objectives as described in Section 6.10 on page 39 of the 2000 Draft Roscommon County Development Plan, which defines Lough Eidin as part of the Shannon system. The Observer also refers to page 24, paragraph 5 of the County Development Plan, 1993, which states that "damaging, unsympathetic or visually intrusive developments, such as sporadic housing, are to be particularly avoided in (the area along the shores of the Shannon and its lakes)". The Observer states that the proposed development is not part of a nucleated settlement and does not relate to any existing settlement and in that sense it is sporadic development. The Observer also refers to page 23 of the 1993 Development Plan and Section 6.10 of the Draft Development Plan, 2000, which states that it is an objective "to ensure that development proposals in the area of the Shannon are generally located within existing centres and to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity". The Observer argues that the proposed development is not located within existing centres and is clearly detrimental to both visual and environmental amenity. The Observer adds that the Planning Authority has recognised in Condition 3 that the application affects policies on: housing development in unserviced rural areas; development control in areas of high amenity value; and the protection of scenic views. The Observer feels that the Roscommon County Development Plan is deficient in applying standards of sustainable development and the statement on page 16 of the 1993 Plan, which states that "people will continue to exercise choice to build individual houses in the countryside. The Plan's policy is to facilitate this…" is a breach of the principles of sustainable development as laid out in the document entitled Sustainable Development - A Strategy for Ireland (1997) and the 2001 Local Agenda Guidelines for Local Authorities. The Observer argues, therefore, that for this reason the Board should treat the proposed development as contrary to the criteria of proper planning and sustainable development and proper planning and development.
With reference to the previous planning refusal by An Bord Pleanála, the Observer notes that the first reason of the refusal schedule defined the application site as "located in a remote, elevated and exposed rural area of high visual amenity in close proximity to the shores of Lough Eidin (Drumharlow)". The Observer states that while the site is not specifically designated as a high amenity area in Section 9 of the Roscommon County Development Plan, 1993, the previous Board decision warrants that it be considered as having a high amenity status. The Observer refers to the third reason of the refusal schedule, which states that the "ground conditions on the site, including the high water table as indicated by soil suitability tests" is still applicable notwithstanding the proposed relocation of both the house and the effluent treatment system and the provision of Condition No. 2 of the grant of permission. The Observer submits that the concerns stated by An Bord Pleanála about an "unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake" has not definitively been addressed".
With reference to the issue of precedent, the Observer states that the application would establish a precedent for other applications in the area generally and on adjoining lands, and in this respect the impact of the proposal in leading to the upgrading of what is currently a farm track access to the site and its potential to generate other development proposals with access from this upgraded road must be considered. The Observer notes that the Section 38 agreement proposed on foot of Condition No. 4 applied by the Planning Authority is not applicable to these other lands outside the Applicant's ownership which would be served by the upgrading of the farm track. The Observer submits that a grant of permission in this instance would be inconsistent with the Planning Authority's treatment of other applications for housing which have been refused in the immediate area on amenity grounds, for example, References 98/497, 96/401 and 95/492, which all cite visual impact or obtrusiveness as reasons justifying refusal on grounds of breaching the provisions of the Roscommon County Development Plan, 1993.

6.0 FIRST PARTY RESPONSE

The response from the Applicant has been prepared by McHugh Consultants, Chartered Town Planners and Development Consultants and follows the six grounds of appeal as put forward by the Friends of the Irish Environment in its structure.
With reference to the first ground of appeal which relates to the issue of visual impact, the First Party states that the previous Board refusal was for a two-storey structure located on a different part of the 27 acre farmholding in close proximity to the lakeshore. The First Party states that the current application for a single storey dwelling in a different position on the farmholding, which is well screened from the lakeshore and from adjoining public areas by a number of long established hedgerows and trees and is, therefore, not located in an exposed rural landscape of high visual amenity. In addition, the First Party states that the dwelling is not located in close proximity to the shore of Lough Eidin, being approximately 200 metres distant from the lakeshore and that the existing ruins on the landholding screen views of the site from the main channel of the lake. Accordingly, the First Party states that the first ground of appeal is without real substance or foundation.
The First Party acknowledges that it is an objective of the Roscommon County Development Plan, 1993, to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity and that this objective is reasonable. The First Party argues that the proposed development would not be visually obtrusive or environmentally damaging to amenity and would, therefore, not contravene materially this objective and not be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area. Further, the First Party states that the proposed development would not contravene the policies and objectives in relation to housing as set out on page 14 of the 1993 Plan as claimed by the Third Party Appellant, as the policies state that housing proposals shall not cause traffic or environmental problems or damage visual amenity and also that all new residential accommodation shall meet the necessary standards of health, convenience, sanitation and design. The First Party argues that the proposed development complies with these policies and that careful consideration was given to Development Plan standards in the preparation of the application. In addition, the First Party states that the Planning Authority, in assessing the submitted application, apply the appropriate policies for planning control and has also ensured by means of appropriate planning conditions that the proposed development will comply with the standards contained therein. In addition, the First Party argues that the proposed development does not contravene the policies and objectives for transport as set out on page 16 of the Development Plan, nor, as the character of the landscape would be maintained, does the proposed development have an adverse impact in terms of the policies and objectives in relation to recreation, tourism and community facilities as set down on page 25 of the 1993 County Development Plan.
The First Party states that the proposed development does not contravene the water and sanitary services objectives as set out on pages 18 and 19 of the County Development Plan as public potable water supply is available to serve the site and sewage treatment and disposal by Bio-cycle Ltd. is appropriate, as confirmed by Eugene Daly & Associates, Consulting Hydro geologists. The First Party adds that the proposed development would not materially conflict with the policies and objectives contained on page 22 of the Development Plan in relation to the environment as the proposed single storey structures would provide a high standard of layout and design and would be in harmony with the surrounding environment in respect of its use and appearance.
With reference to pages 32-37 of the Development Plan in relation to planning control in rural areas, the First Party states that the proposed development is in conformity with same as set out in the cover letter submitted with the planning application. With reference to environmental policies on page 23 of the plan, the First Party accepts that it is an objective to "ensure that development proposals in the area of the Shannon are generally located within existing centres, and to prohibit development proposals where they would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity". However, the First Party states that it is important to note the word "generally" which demonstrates that there are circumstances in which development proposals will be acceptable in rural locations, provided that these are not detrimental to visual or environmental amenities. The First Party argues that the proposed development, which comprises a permanent family residence located on an existing farmholding where it is the Applicant's stated intention to maintain the tradition of farming on this 27 acre property is such a case. In addition, the First Party states that the proposed development has been carefully sited and designed by a qualified and experienced architect and located in a part of the site so as to ensure that the development would not be detrimental to visual or environmental amenity. The First Party does not accept that the proposed development would be damaging, unsympathetic or visually obtrusive in this particular location.
The First Party contends that the height of the development and its revised siting away from the shoreline of Lough Eidin would result in no material visual impact on this remote and scenic location. The First Party argues that the presence of ruined dwellings on the site is evidence of a long established settlement on this part of the landholding and the proposed development would not be inconsistent with the policy of conserving the natural environment and that it does not contravene the planning objective to prohibit development proposals in the area of the River Shannon where this would be detrimental to visual or environmental amenities.
With reference to the comments of Friends of the Irish Environment in relation to the planning history of the site, the First Party notes these comments but argues that previous refusals by the Board in the general area relate to small individual sites where either single dwellings were proposed or where groups of dwellings were applied for. The First Party argues that the application in the present instance is different to these previous refusal cases in that it is for a permanent year-round residence on a family farmholding in excess of 27 acres and should be considered in that light. The First Party argues that the granting of planning permission for the proposed development would not be inconsistent with the previous decisions of the Board in relation to speculative housing and holiday home developments in the vicinity of Lough Eidin and would, therefore, not create an undesirable precedent for future residential development. The First Party states that the Applicant is willing to enter into a Section 38 agreement to sterilise the remainder of the lands for further residential development.
With reference to the Third Party Appellant's contention that the proposed development would be an intrusive feature on the landscape by day and provide a beacon-like illumination at night, the First Party states that there is no evidence in support of this contention and states that the gap in the hedgerow shown on Photograph No. 1 presented by the Third Party Appellant is not relevant given the set back of the proposed dwelling (between 6.75 and 11 metres) and the First Party submits photomontages to support same. I draw the Board's attention to these photomontages which are attached to the appeal file and the Board should note that in views 1 and 2 the second version of each shows the proposed house with no additional screen planting on the boundary of the site, while the third shows the house with additional landscape screening using native planting species. The First Party makes the point that the photographs were taken on 24th October, 2001, one month later than the Third Party Appellants photographs, where the landscape cover is at its minimum in terms of leaf coverage. The First Party asks the Board to compare the photomontages with the views of the existing situation (the first photograph in views 1, 2 and 3) and agree that there is no basis for concluding that the development will, as the Third Party has asserted, form "an inescapable and intrusive feature on the landscape by day and provide a beacon-like illumination at night over a wide area of the River Shannon and Lough Eidin". The First Party states that the site was chosen in the interests of protecting the privacy of the Applicant by way of existing landscape screening and that it is the Applicant's intention to reinforce this screening in order to afford the necessary privacy for this family residence. The First Party states that the Applicant is willing to accept a condition requiring planting to fill the existing gap in the hedgerow on the north-west boundary of the site and to undertake this prior to the commencement of construction.
With reference to the second ground of appeal, which relates to the cumulative overdevelopment of a rural area contrary to Development Plan policies, the First Party responds that there is no factual basis for concluding that the proposed development would, either on its own, or together with other developments in the locality, give rise to excessive density of development in this area. The First Party points out that the proposed development is for a single storey family dwelling of 210 square metres and associated outbuildings of some 65 square metres located on the 27 acre farm. As such, the First Party states that the proposed development complies with advice contained on page 32 of the Development Plan, which states that it is "an essential characteristic of the rural policy to ensure that each new development is individually located within its rural setting and by good siting and design harmonises with it". The First Party states that Kilmacarril is not an area of significant development pressure and that page 5 of the Development Plan confirms that outside of pressure areas "the rural landscape can accommodate well sited individual houses". The First Party argues that the good design and siting of the proposed development will assimilate it into the receiving landscape and that the landholding is of sufficient size to accommodate the proposed development. The First Party points out that it is intended to retain and reinforce the existing hedgerow and tree screening on the site and also to retain existing ruins with potential for refurbishment of these for re-use as domestic outbuildings. The First Party states that the proposed development will not materially breach either the skyline or the existing tree and hedgerow landscape screening and that the existing hedgerows and trees will screen the proposed development from outside views, especially from Lough Eidin.
With reference to land ownership, the First Party confirms that the Applicant is the owner of the landholding and that the Third Party Appellant has raised this issue, which is not relevant to the present appeal. The First Party confirms that the Applicant purchased the lands from a Mr. James Morahan as an entire farmholding and there is no subdivision of an agricultural holding nor is there any intention to undertake such a process now or in the future. The First Party states that reference to PL20.123585 relates to a Fergal Morahan and that the surname is very common in this part of County Roscommon. The First Party confirms that all 27 acres were in the ownership of the Applicant when the previous planning application was made and there was no question as suggested by the Third Party Appellant of adding on acreage of farmland to the original site in the present instance.
The First Party states that the Applicant intends to maintain the tradition of farming the landholding, which would be in conformity with the provisions on page 37 of the Development Plan, where a new residence is acceptable where it is a replacement for an existing house or where it is for a farmer or a family member involved with the running of the farm. The First Party states that it is the policy of the Planning Authority to facilitate the provision of a residence on a significant agricultural landholding and that the present application qualifies in this respect.
With reference to the sale of other lands in the area, the First Party confirms that the Applicant was an unsuccessful underbidder with respect to lands at Carroward which were sold in excess of agricultural value. The First Party disputes the Third Party claim that the McAleese family have no past connection or ties with the townland of Kilmacarril and states that there are a number of familial ties, not only in the general area between Cootehall and Carrick-on-Shannon, but also in the immediate locality of the appeal site.
The First Party states that there are no proposals to carry out site development and landscaping works throughout the 27 acre landholding as contended by the Third Party Appellant and landscaping works relate to the proposed new dwelling and the access roadway between the main road and the house site.
With reference to Map No. 2 submitted by the Third Party Appellants, the First Party responds that a small part of the southern end of the hedgerow BC was removed to provide access for machinery to investigate the site of the previous planning application. The First Party states that the removal of hedgerow was minimal and that it is intended to reinforce existing landscape screening should the development be granted permission. With reference to hedgerow CD, the First Party states that the Applicant has not touched this hedgerow since the property was purchased and suggests that the adjoining landowner has carried out routine maintenance on the hedgerow. The First Party states that the ongoing maintenance of shared hedgerows in different land ownership is common practice and that it is the Applicant's intention to continue this practice and to maintain all existing mature trees within the landholding.
With reference to the sensitive nature of lakeshore sites as referred to by the Third Party Appellant, the First Party responds that the proposed development is located at the furthest practicable distance from the lakeshore and that there are no proposals for a jetty or associated boating infrastructure on the lakeshore as part of this application. Accordingly, the First Party states that all the examples contained in Exhibit G, Photographs 5-16 of the Third Party Appellant appeal have no relevance to the present case.
With reference to the third ground of appeal, which relates to the foul water treatment system, the First Party states that the initial site investigation works was by Pollution and Waste Services Ltd. to assess the site suitability for the use of the Biocycle wastewater treatment system. Thereafter, the First Party commissioned a further test from one of three experts nominated by Friends of the Irish Environment and a report by Eugene Daly & Associates was submitted to the Planning Authority as part of the planning application. The First Party states that that report mentions a stream which is located 150 metres from the nearest part of the proposed percolation area and that the Eugene Daly & Associates report indicates that following percolation tests the site at Kilmacarril is suitable for the disposal of effluent from the proposed wastewater treatment plant. The First Party states that neither groundwater quality or lake water are at risk from the proposed development and that the treatment system will comply with the recommendations contained in the EPA Guidelines for Treatment Systems for Single Houses in their entirety. The First Party draws the Board's attention to the desirability of a 50 metre separation from a percolation area to a lake indicated by Eugene Daly & Associates and points out that Lough Eidin is over 250 metres from the site of the proposed percolation area and, therefore, no risk to lakewater quality is anticipated. The First Party states that the Biocycle treatment and disposal system has an Agrement Certification (96/0033) issued by the National Standards Authority of Ireland. The First Party states that the Third Party Appellant has put forward no technical evidence to support the contention that the proposed development must constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution to the lake and risk to public health and asks the Board to note that Condition Nos. 1, 2 and 8 of the decision of the Planning Authority adequately deal with the public health interests and concerns. The First Party adds that in relation to Exhibit H submitted by the Third Party Appellant, part of the area marked as a watercourse (between field references .500 and .507) is not in fact a stream but a ditch.
With reference to the fourth ground of appeal, which relates to the issue of traffic hazard, the First Party states that the application was examined by the Area Engineer of Roscommon County Council and that there is no evidence to support the contention that the local public road serving the area is seriously defective, either in horizontal or in vertical alignment or width. The First Party notes that no engineering or traffic evidence has been put forward by the Third Party Appellant to substantiate this issue. The First Party is not aware that the author of the third party appeal submission, Mr. Peter Sweetman, has any professional qualifications in engineering, traffic and transport planning, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental planning, environmental science or any relevant discipline in relation to any of the grounds of appeal put forward by the Third Party Appellant. The First Party states that this should be given consideration when assessing what weight to be given to the detailed grounds of appeal contained in a submission by Friends of the Irish Environment. The First Party states that the proposed development of a single storey family residence would not give rise to any significant level of traffic and that the local county road network is sufficient to serve the proposed development. The First Party adds that Condition Nos. 5, 6 and 7 of the decision by Roscommon County Council adequately addresses and deals with matters relating to traffic safety and orderly development.
With reference to the fifth ground of appeal, which relates to the ornithological and ecological importance of Lough Eidin, the First Party states that while a previous application included a lakeside jetty and associated infrastructure, the present proposal does not. With reference to the previous development proposal, the First Party notes that the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands did not have an objection to the lakeside jetty and concluded that it would not have a significant negative impact on Lough Eidin Natural Heritage Area (No. 1643). The First Party states that the proposed NHA boundaries do not include the site where it is proposed to develop the dwelling and there are no lakeshore infrastructure facilities associated with the revised planning application. With reference to landscaping works, the First Party state that these relate to works around the dwelling and the access road into the property and not landscape works through the 27 acres of the site as stated by the Third Party Appellant. The First Party states that Condition Nos. 9 and 10 adequately deal with the protection and reinforcement of existing trees and hedgerows along the site boundaries.
With reference to the sixth ground of appeal, which relates to whether or not the rebuilding of the ruins on-site constitute exempted development, the First Party states that the proposal to retain the existing ruins is in accordance with the objectives of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and with the principles of sustainable development. The First Party states that the refurbishment work to the ruins is exempted development pursuant to Section 4(1)(g) of the Local Government (Planning & Development) Act, 1963, and the work therefore does not form part of the planning application since permission is not required. The First Party argues that the ruins have not lost their use as a house and that the exempted development provisions therefore apply.
The First Party argues that this issue has been discussed with An Taisce and is in line with their policy on the reuse of ruins which advocates and supports the adaptation and incorporation of vernacular buildings into contemporary development without compromising the character or intrinsic design quality of such traditional buildings. In addition, the First Party argues that these ruins, together with the existing trees and hedgerows, provide enclosure and shelter for the proposed new structures. The First Party notes that An Taisce has not appealed the decision of Roscommon County Council, whereas An Taisce appealed the previous planning application. The First Party states that on page 37 of the County Development Plan it is stated that a new house is acceptable in a rural area where it is a replacement for an existing house and that the presence of two ruins in the immediate vicinity of the location where it is proposed to build a new single storey dwelling, is a material consideration which the Board should consider in determining this appeal.
Thereafter, the First Party, on pages 16 and 17 of the response document, outlines a history of the application with respect to Friends of the Irish Environment and An Taisce's involvement, to which I draw the Board's attention. In addition, the First Party asks the Board to note that the Applicant has not appealed any of the conditions imposed by Roscommon County Council and is happy to accept these as part of a grant of planning permission. The First Party believes that every reasonable attempt has been made to overcome all of the reasons for refusal given by An Bord Pleanála in respect of the previous application and quotes Mr. Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment, who stated that the revised application has "gone a long, long way down the road to try and make this an acceptable development". The First Party concludes that the Applicant has local connections and desires a permanent residence on a farm in a rural area, which is a reasonable desire. The First Party states that the proposed development "would not be contrary to the proper planning and development of this area, including the preservation and improvement of the amenities thereof, having due regard to the provisions of the statutory Development Plan; and also that the proposals are generally in accordance with the principles for sustainable development as set out in the National Strategy for same".

7.0 PLANNING AUTHORITY RESPONSE

The Planning Authority has not responded to this appeal.

8.0 ASSESSMENT

Having regard to the above, and having inspected the site and reviewed all documents on file, my assessment below is structured under the following headings:-

¬? The principle of development at this site (incorporates the second ground of the Third Party Appeal).
¬? Development Plan Provisions.
¬? The present proposal in comparison with the previously refused application (addresses the first, third and fifth grounds of the Third Party Appeal).
¬? Other relevant planning issues (addresses the fourth and sixth grounds of the Third Party Appeal).

With reference to the principle of development at this site, I am of the opinion that there is no justification in planning terms for the proposed development and that it breaches a core planning philosophy with respect to sporadic development in the countryside. I would draw the Board's attention to the National Sustainable Development Strategy issued by the Government in 1997, which recognises that demand for housing in the countryside from people working in cities and towns is generally unsustainable because:-

¬? Being separated from all other activities which the householder normally has resort to, such as work, shops, schools and entertainment, one-off housing is a large utiliser of energy;
¬? Most one-off houses are served by individual septic tanks, raising concerns for groundwater protection;
¬? There are increased roads and transport costs; and
¬? There is a negative impact in terms of the urban fabric of towns.

The Sustainable Development Strategy states that "there must be a presumption against urban-generated one-off rural housing adjacent to towns", but that Planning Authorities should be enabled to grant permission for dwellings for certain categories of person whose occupation requires them to be rurally based, thereby catering for genuine needs. As this is National Policy, the Board is obliged to have regard to the National Sustainable Development Strategy in reaching a decision in this case. One-off rural housing, by its potential for degrading water resources, visual amenity, rural environment and local road networks can seriously detract from the potential of rural areas to develop their agricultural, tourism and heritage resources.
I note that the Applicant states that it is intended to retain the appeal site for farm use and that the proposed dwelling would be a permanent family home. Notwithstanding this fact, I would comment that the Applicant has failed to demonstrate a need to locate a dwelling on this landholding. Clearly, the Applicant is not a farmer or at least has not stated so in the First Party response. A demonstrable need would be a farmer working the land on which the dwelling is proposed, or a close family member requiring to be rurally based to carry out work activities. I note also that the Applicant is not local, although there is evidence of familial ties with the area. In view of this, I do not believe that the Applicant has sufficiently demonstrated a need to locate a dwelling on this landholding nor demonstrated that if permission were granted that the occupant of the dwelling would be engaged in farming or a related activity that is locationally determined by the landholding.
The cumulative effect of one-off urban-generated housing in the rural areas is non-sustainable and should not be sanctioned by the Board. The cumulative impact of one-off housing in the countryside is a loss of visual and environmental amenity, uneconomic service provision, danger of groundwater pollution (having regard to the reliance on treatment systems rather than mains) and the gradual erosion of the character of rural areas. With reference to this issue of sustainability, I draw the Board's attention to the submission by An Taisce, which succinctly summarises the negative economic, social, environmental and transport-related impacts of one-off houses in the countryside. I would comment that there were several derelict cottages in the area capable of restoration which is recognised by the National Sustainable Strategy 1997 as a more sustainable alternative to building new housing in the countryside and I also note the proximity of the site to the village of Cootehall, where it is more desirable to concentrate development rather than blighting the countryside with sporadic development. I would further add that it will be necessary to construct approximately 250 metres of new access road to develop the site, which clearly underlines the existing undeveloped nature of the area and the undesirability of permitting development at the appeal site. I note that there are ruins of dwellinghouses on the appeal site but I do not believe that these constitute a valid precedent for new development on the site given that their use has been extinguished for a considerable period of time.
Regard must also be had to previous Board decisions in the area which have tended to refuse permission for sporadic housing development on several grounds including visual impact and environmental amenity. Regard must also be had to the issue of precedent and the granting of permission for this development which is contrary to stated government policy regarding sustainable development would create an undesirable precedent and encourage other applications in the area for similar developments. The cumulative effects of sporadic housing in the countryside have been outlined above and these effects are clearly undesirable in planning terms.


- Unfortunately, the amount of words in this database is limited. For the full report please contact FIE. -
Partial Change of Use of dwelling and conversion and first floor extension of domestic store to ground and first floor cafe

Location: Cluin, Allihies, County Cork


OBSERVATION ON AN APPEAL AGAINST A GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION


Planning Authority: Cork County Council

Local Authority Reference Number: W/00/1996

Appeal Reference Number: PL - 04 121498

Re: Partial Change of Use of dwelling and conversion and first floor extension of domestic store to ground and first floor cafe

Location: Cluin, Allihies, County Cork

Date of Permission: 14 September, 2000


Introduction

The Appeal on which this Observation is made is a substantial document with a detailed history of the development which it is not necessary to repeat. There are only three grounds we seek to highlight in this Observation. The first contends that the local authority was acting ultra vires in a grant of permission for extension to an unauthorized structure. The second is that the preservation and improvement of the amenities of this area are a general duty under the Planning Acts and a specific objective of the West Cork Development Plan, to the degree that this grant of permission is a material contravention of that Development Plan. The third ground of this Observation is that the nature of the development would substantially contribute to the loss of character of Allihies Village, which is unique.


1) Unauthorized structures and planning permissions

Gannon J. stated the truism in Dublin Corporation vs Langan when he wrote that "The policy of the Planning Acts clearly is to prevent the erection and maintenance of unauthorized structures." Consequently even the maintenance of an unauthorized structure is unauthorized.

This central tenet of our Planning Acts was ignored by the applicant, who in 1998 extended his structure towards the public road, altered the physical layout and public use of the road and pedestrian pavement and then began the use of this unauthorized structure as a street Caf?©.

After representations from the planning authority's Enforcement Section and while private proceedings under Section 27 of the Planning Act 1976 were before the Courts, the applicant sought permission for the retention of works completed, although he did not seek permission for a change of use [W1998/5697]. This permission was refused and the applicant was instructed to reinstate the works done.

The applicant, having been refused permission for retention of the ground floor work detailed above which was unauthorized and illegal and which the applicant was directed to reinstate, now seeks to build a first floor extension on top of this unauthorized structure.

The applicant did not have "clean hands" and the Planning Authority was wrong in law in granting permission for any work on the unauthorized structure.


2) Development Plan protection

The West Cork Development Plan recognizes the special nature of Allihies village in a number of designations.

In its review of the Beara Peninsula [10.3] it states that Allihies has now been included in the Development Plan "to ensure that future development is consistent with, and, if possible enhances the special character of the existing village".

Allihies Village is protected in Table V.5(c), Structures and Features of Historic, Archaeological or artistic importance [Item F734].

The views are to be preserved or improved [A131] on the road between Cahermore, Allihies, and Eyries, which passes the appeal site.

The West Cork Development Plan is specific in its requirements of protection [Rural, Coastal, and Island Development 3.7]: "West Cork's coastal areas are one of the county's most important assets. These areas need careful management to safeguard the environment and achieve the best sustainable return to the community. Tourism needs selective encouragement, emphasising the elements likely to be of the most benefit to the local community and to cause the least environmental problems."

We would content the current application reverses this stated policy by giving development consent to a proposal that is not in the best interest of the local community and which will inevitably by its nature create environmental problems for this community.


3) Special Character of Allihies Village

It is important that the Board appreciate the "special character" of this area and its way of life and that any final decision reflect these values.

Long known as the "Parish that time forgot", even now the nature of Allihies tourism is not that of a Killarney or Glengarriff simply on a smaller scale.

Allihies is a village that occupies a special place in the hearts of many whose occupations require that they live elsewhere. For many years the same families return to Allihies, allowing their children to grow up with the Village and its Strand as part of their own lives. These children in turn return to Allihies when they seek the solace that only the lonely mountains and beautiful bays of the Beara peninsula can provide for them.

The nature of tourism in the Allihies area is family and home based, with the letting of holiday homes and the Ballydonegan caravan site providing the bulk of the accommodation. The passing tourism completing the Ring of Beara or returning from the Dursey Island cable car has little effect on the established pattern of tourism on the economy of the area. This depends on the traditional annual pattern which extends throughout the year to Bank Holidays and Religious Holidays.

Given this established pattern, there is no compelling need for fast service cafes with their road side tables and tacky environment which Allihies endured during the unauthorized use of this premise. This kind of development is anathema to the character of the area and will inevitable mitigate against the substantial and continuing community work through FAS to seek recognition through Tidy Towns.

While it may appear to the casual visitor that Allihies has no restaurant, four bars serve a variety of foods and one, O'Neill's bar, once a cobblers shop, has been much extended over the years and now boasts a large and fully equipped restaurant housed in an extension to the rear.

Further, the Atlantic Caf?© below the village core has long been established as the source of some of the freshest and finest sea food in the area, sourced as it is by the last of those fishing in small boats from this wild shore.

Both of these facilities are located at the extremities of the village. The central core of Allihies village is the Church. Enclosed by the residential streetscape opposite, the area has been much enhanced of late by work on the fabric of the Village walls and curtiledge of the Church. The proposed development would occupy a prominent and intrusive corner of this important streetscape, and would represent a significant damage to the character of the Village.


Conclusion

For all these reasons we urge the Board to consider carefully the special character and environment as well as the vulnerable tradition and values of this Village and ensure that the purposes of the Planning Acts and the provisions of the West Cork Development Plan are upheld by a refusal of permission for this development.


Frends of the Irish Environment






An Bord Pleanala

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT) ACTS, 1963 TO 1999

Athlone Urban District

Planning Register Reference Number: P.D. 3886/99

APPEAL by James P. Shannon of Deerpark Road, Athlone, County Westmeath and by others against the decision made on the 17th day of November, 2000 by the Council of the Urban District of Athlone to grant subject to conditions a permission to Noel F. Heavey of Fry House, Fry Place, Athlone, County Westmeath for development comprising the construction of 89 dwellings consisting of 32 apartments and 57 townhouses and associated site works and drainage at Lower Docks, Big Meadow, Athlone, County Westmeath:

DECISION: Pursuant to the Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts, 1963 to 1999, permission is hereby refused for the said development for the reasons set out in the Schedule hereto.

SCHEDULE

1. Having regard to the proposed access via Deer Park Road, to the substandard junction of said road with Lyster Street and to the traffic generating capacity of the proposed development, it is considered that the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road users.

2. Having regard to the location of the site within a floodplain and notwithstanding the fact that the level of the floodplain has been artificially raised at this location, the Board is not satisfied on the basis of the submissions made in connection with the planning application and the appeal that adequate drainage can be provided for the proposed development at this location and that the proposed development would not exacerbate the risk of flooding. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area

3. Having regard to the location of the appeal site in close proximity to an area, which is a proposed SP A, candidate Special Areas of Conservation and proposed NHA and to the existence of breeding comcrake within this area, it is considered that the proposed development would be contrary to the objective as stated in the Birds and Habitats Directive of protecting the corncrake which is a globally endangered species. by virtue of the potential for disturbance to the breeding corncrake associated with the proposed development. It is considered that the proposed development would cause disturbance to the habitat of an endangered species and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.


Margaret Byrne,

Member of An Bord Pleanala duly authorised

to authenticate the seal of the Board,

24 December, 2001