The site at the top of Walkin Stret/Old Callan Road
A new apartment development proposed for the junction of Walkin Street and the Old Callan Road in Kilkenny City is to go ahead despite objections from local residents, following approval by An Bord Pleanala.
People living in the area had lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanala in January against the proposed construction of the four-storey residential building near their homes.
Following a revised planning application by Oaklee Housing Trust in November, Kilkenny County Council granted conditional Planning Permission for the development on the currently derelict site at the junction of Walkin Street. The approval allowed for a total of 27 apartments and four houses to be built, with part of one of the buildings to now be three storeys rather than four.
However, local residents were still unhappy with the decision, and said their concerns regarding the scale of the building, sensitivity to the area, and impact on traffic had not been properly addressed. They had made a number of submissions to the local authority, and handed in a petition objecting to the building.
Now, An Bord has advised that the project can go ahead, subject to compliance with a number of conditions.
These conditions include some amendments to the original proposals - a number of houses and gardens in one block have been removed to allow for a communal garden space and basement access, a revised roof profile, landscaping, guarantees over management and maintenance, colour and textures of finishes to be used, public lighting, and other technical details.
Proposals for a development name (in keeping with the area), and apartment numbering scheme and associated signage are to be submitted. There must also be specific arrangements under taken regarding both traffic management and waste management - two areas about which local residents had raised some concerns.
In his report, An Bord Pleanala's inspector noted the number of people on the council's housing waiting list, and that many were looking for a specific type of accommodation which is in short supply in Kilkenny. He said this development would help address 'this imbalance'.
The inspector also noted that the presence of the nearby Walkin Street Green represented a 'missed opportunity' to create a shared open space. He said he was satisfied that the development would not have any 'undue adverse impact' on traffic in the area, and said that while the basement carpark's proposed 52 spaces falls four spaces short of Development Plan requirements, this was acceptable due to 'non-coincidental parking' arising.
"The applicant submits that the community and office uses within the scheme would predominantly generate daytime parking demand, when many of the residential units would be unoccupied," concluded the inspector, who recommended the planning permission be granted.
During the process, Cllr Malcom Noonan made an observation to the Bord's inspector, saying he was not opposed to the development of the site or its development for social housing. However, he also said the development was not sympathetic to the surrounding residential community, and expressed concern over its impact on traffic and the consultation process.
In its direction, the Bord decided that the development 'would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would respect the existing character of the area and would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety'.
"The proposed development would, therefore, be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area," noted the Bord.