Residents keep up fight against new Wexford courthouse
ANGRY home-owners say they are determined to continue their fight against plans for a huge new courthouse in the old Municipal Buildings in Wygram, one of the oldest areas of Wexford town centre.
The courts service has invited some residents to a 'closed' briefing session at White's Hotel today (Tuesday, June 9), but many locals say that they simply don't want the courthouse in the area and fear it will change the whole dynamic of what is a heavily populated area of the town.
In 2010, the OPW was granted planning permission for the court complex, which would extend to almost 5,000 square metres, and will cost more than €10 million, a section of the planning act for which there is no right of third party appeal to An Bord Pleanala because it is a so-called 'security project'.
Built as Tate's School in 1867, the Municipal Buildings in Wygram became the headquarters of Wexford Town Council from the 1950s to 2007, when the 1.5-acre property was sold to the Courts Service for €3 million as a site for Wexford's courthouse.
Local residents say the project is out of scale for the area - the building would be the largest courthouse outside Dublin - and they have concerns about increased traffic and security issues in neighbouring streets.
Resident Eileen Hore says the OPW has so far refused to allow local people to examine the deeds for the old Municipal Buildings, and believes the reason is that there were restrictions placed on its future use when it was handed to the then-Corporation by the Tate school.
A petition signed by people living in Bayview, Parklands, part of Newtown Road, Coolcotts, John's Road, Davitt Road North and South, Mannix Place, and John Street has already been sent to both the OPW and the court service.
Residents are concerned about defendants hanging around the courthouse during breaks in proceedings and using an alley-way from Davitt Road North where an entrance gate is being provided to cater for prison vans parking inside the courthouse grounds.
There are fears that this could lead to problems for residents and children using the alley-way when courts are in session, according to the organisers of the campaign against the development.
The main entrance to the building will be opposite St. Ibar's Villas. Cars will be directed to a car park with 43 parking spaces and a further 11 around other parts of the site.
The courts service currently rents temporary courthouse and office accommodation at Ardcavan Business Park at a cost of more than €100,000 a year.