Cathedral objection based on conditions

St. Mel's Cathedral. Photo: Joe McDonagh.

St. Mel's Cathedral. Photo: Joe McDonagh.

Conditions imposed on the granting of planning permission for the construction of a new floor and roof in St Mel’s Cathedral is the main focus of an objection lodged with An Bord Pleanála last week.

As revealed in the last issue of the Longford Leader, local architect Liam Madden lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála regarding Longford Town Council’s permission for the construction of a new floor and roof in the Cathedral.

Under the conditions of the planning permission, the planning authority ordered revised proposals for the design of the roof structure to be submitted prior to the commencement of works. In his appeal, which carried a e220 Bord Pleanála fee, Mr Madden said the granting of permission was an “approval of a re-design that doesn’t exist”.

“My concerns remain to the extent that absolute precision and certainty has not been put in place by [the conditions]. The conditions approve a re-design of the only significant built elements in the design – the roof and floor. Every other element of the restoration is a mere replication of what previously existed. A re-design ought to have been invited prior to the decision,” Mr Madden wrote.

In the conditions, the planning authorities called on the developers to provide proposals for the provision of its preferred option of a Glulaminated timber beam support structure roof. If this option is not feasible, a composite timber/steel proposal shall be submitted and agreed with the planning authority, according to one of 12 conditions imposed on the granting of planning permission.

Mr Madden also writes in his appeal that steel roof trusses should not be used as a replacement for timber trusses. He blames the spread of the fire on Christmas morning 2009 on the roof void between the rear accommodation and the main body of the church and not on the timber trusses.

“The current design does not appear to provide for the self same fire separation. This glaring omission is an open invitation for any new fire to devastate the entire of the building, should another fire happen.”

In their detailed proposals for the project, Punch Consulting Engineers cited steel as their preferred option for the roof as its configuration would allow for better walkways to aid maintenance in the future. They also stated steel trusses could be erected quicker, lessening the possible exposure of the building to the elements.

Chairman of the St Mel’s Cathedral Project Committee, Seamus Butler last week described the objection as “imperious.” However, no work can be carried out until An Bord Pleanála rule on the appeal, with a decision expected by August 23.




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