Tuesday 20 August 2019

Golf club's appeal against St. Joseph's clubhouse plan invalid, say planners

An artist's impression of the proposed new clubhouse on land at Whiterock Hill adjacent to Wexford golf course.
An artist's impression of the proposed new clubhouse on land at Whiterock Hill adjacent to Wexford golf course.

By Maria Pepper

An attempt by Wexford Golf Club to appeal to An Bord Pleanála against a Council decision granting St. Joseph's GAA Club planning permission for the building of a €700,000 new clubhouse at Whiterock Hill, has been rendered invalid.

The Golf Club lodged an appeal against the proposed development on April 25, two days before the deadline but omitted to include the required fee, making the submission invalid. The opportunity to appeal has now been lost as the deadline has expired.

The club made a submission to Wexford County Council during the original planning process after O'Driscoll Lynn Architects on behalf of St. Joseph's applied for permission to build a two-storey clubhouse comprising dressing rooms, a gym, indoor playing area and three pitches with floodlights, a playground, walking path and ball stop nets.

The development is to be built on a nine-acre site acquired by St. Joseph's from NAMA at a reduced price in 2015, which forms a boundary with parts of the golf club.

The Golf Club asked planners for a buffer zone to be created, particuarly at the northern end of the site and requested a trespass-proof fence to be built along the entire south eastern boundary 'to reduce the risk of young members of the GAA Club straying onto the Golf Club'.

The club also suggested that a proposed pathway adjacent to a common south eastern boundary be relocated in the interest of safety and advised that the proposed playground should be moved away from this area too.

Council planners noted that the boundary between the GAA grounds and the Golf Club consists of a mature landscaped boundary and disagreed that a buffer zone was required.

'A buffer zone between housing and recreational sporting uses may be considered appropriate. However, it is not considered that a buffer zone between similar sporting uses is required', said executive planner Sonia Hunt who dealt with the application, adding that it was also considered acceptable to locate the walking path and playground as proposed by St. Joseph's.

The comment regarding a fence along the entire south east boundary was listed as 'noted'.

Declan and Ann Jones of Pembrokestown, Whiterock Hill also wrote to planners, expressing concern about traffic safety at the proposed new entrance to the clubhouse.

They felt that relocating the existing entrance nearer to the Hillview Estate entrance would increase traffic risks on the Main Road due to its proximity to a dangerous corner and asked for the existing entrance to be retained.

However, Ms. Hunt said the proposal to move the existing access by approximately 25 metres south from the existing entrance is 'considered acceptable and raises no additional traffic concerns from that which exists.'

Wexford County Council considered that the overall application was acceptable in principle at the Whiterock location and would not have a detrimental impact on views to and from the harbour.

Ms. Hunt praised the development as an 'example of good design' which is moving away from traditional standard sporting facility buildings.

Planners concluded that 'the development of this well-designed modern sporting facility which is within an area of existing sporting use and housing is considered acceptable subject to conditions'.

Among the conditions are that all floodlighting should be shielded so as not to dazzle road users and should be switched off not later than 10 pm each night to protect the habitat of bat roosting sites that may be in the immediate area. Noise level restrictions will apply between 9 pm and 7 am.

Wexford Golf Club lodged its appeal after the Council granted planning permission for the GAA development. However, the appeal was considered invalid by An Bord Pleanála due to the fee omission. Declan and Ann Jones did not lodge an appeal against the local authority decision.

St. Joseph's GAA Club is now free to build the new clubhouse project for which it is continuing to fundraise.

Wexford People

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