Court Service agrees to listen to concerns
RESIDENTS STILL OPPOSED TO PLANS
THE COURTS Service has finally agreed to meet residents objecting to its plans for a new court complex at Wygram in Wexford town.
The new complex, which could cost up to €15 million, will be built around the Municipal Buildings and residents from Davitt Road North, Wygram, Windmill Hill and other surrounding areas are objecting to it.
The 1.5-acre site was sold to the Courts Service by Wexford Borough Council for €3 million in 2007 as a site for Wexford's new courthouse. Wexford District Court currently sits in Ardcavan Business Park, its temporary home, while the Circuit Court sits in County Hall.
Permission was granted for the modern new court complex last November under part nine of the 2000 Planning Act, under which there is no right of thirdparty appeal to An Bord Pleanala. Also, because it is a court and considered a 'security' project, only limited information was made publicly available.
The local residents have objected to the development on a number of grounds, including the scale of the proposed courthouse, the traffic and parking implications for their area and the effect the development will have on the historic Municipal Buildings.
A meeting was held with representatives of both bodies last year, but it was only attended by Borough Councillors, Deputy Brendan Howlin and council officials - it was not open to the public.
However, John Mahon, the Courts Service's Head of Estates and Buildings, said this week that they will be 'engaging with the local residents' to assure them their concerns have been taken on board.
Cllr Fergie Kehoe, who is backing the objections of local residents, said yesterday ( Tuesday) that the Courts Service's commitment to meet with them is welcome, but that no date has been fixed yet. He said that people in the area concerned about the project would be anxious it happens as soon as possible.
The proposed new courthouse, designed by Newenham Mulligan Architects, would incorporate the L-shaped Municipal Buildings for use as offices and erect a new block to the rear, with four courts stacked on top of each other.
Michael Grace, Chief Architect for the project, said the contemporary building would not be 'out of keeping with the scale of courthouses in other county towns' and he added that in Wexford the large-scale Opera House already ' happily co-exists with houses' in the town.
The complex will extend to 4,680 square metres and is likely to cost between €12 million and €15 million.
' Funding is not in place, but we're pressing for it to go to tender before the end of 2011,' said Mr Mahon.