Longford County Council has come in for stinging criticism over its decision to grant planning permission for a residential development on the outskirts of Edgeworthstown which last month was turned down by An Bord Pleanala.
The state planning authority dismissed the council’s endorsement for 64 houses to be built at Bracklin and Edgeworthstown on July 31 last.
Relieved homeowner Gilbert McCormack said he was still to understand the council’s logic in granting approval for an estate at a time of unprecedented housing oversupply.
Just last week, a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found housing demand was so low in Longford that no new units needed to be built until 2021.
“This has been going on ten years would you believe,” said Mr McCormack as he reflected on the Bord’s decision.
An additional 20 houses together with a childcare facility had been approved by both the council and the Bord in January 2007.
Five years later, an application to extend permission was granted until January 2017 ahead of a revised proposal to downsize the development to 64 units.
In its decision, the Bord cited sewage capability issues and public health concerns as primary reasons for its refusal.
Visual amenity fears and doubts surrounding pedestrian safety were others, factors Mr McCormack believes should have been considered first and foremost at local authority level.
“My attitude is unless An Bord Pleanala are super experts and have a different attitude to planning, this aplication shouldn’t have had to go to them every time. Why should the likes of us have to pay just to get our voices heard?”
Mr McCormack said even in spite of the Bord’s subsequent rejection, he and his family have been left considerably out of pocket by the decade long dispute. He said the addition of another 64 houses would have heaped further strain on the town and its ever growing population.
“We have a garda station in Egeworthstown with a buzzer on it.... We have one doctor’s surgery.
“I would have been left in a terrible situation.
It would have meant maybe having to move to the countryside to bring up our daughter or being left in a situation of being afraid to leave our house,” he said.
“It’s just a relief it’s all over.”