Saturday 18 November 2017

Views of residents taken on board in planning for unfinished estate

By Maria Pepper

17 new homes will be built at the site (top). Apartments are being considered for Strandfield Manor (above)
17 new homes will be built at the site (top). Apartments are being considered for Strandfield Manor (above)

Wexford County Council has granted planning permission for the building of 17 homes in an unfinished housing estate at Strandfield Manor on Wexford's Spawell Road despite objections from existing residents.

Planning approval was originally granted by the County Council and Bord Pleanála in 2003 for 53 houses of which 23 units were completed before the property crash happened and the planning permission has since expired. A derelict sites notice was subsequently issued by the local authority.

A renewed application made by Trenco Developments Ltd for 18 homes in the unfinished development along with alterations to site boundaries previously approved, has been granted subject to conditions, including a provision that one of the proposed houses be removed from the plan.

The planning authority was told that the contractor who carried out the first phase of the development has ceased to operate.

More than a dozen existing Strandfield Manor residents objected to the additional houses being built, claiming they would lead to a loss of light, privacy and visual amenity.

Residents said the historic building of Strandfield Manor is a focal point of the estate that is visible from the public road and a proposal to build a house at the entrance would destroy the view and be detrimental to the amenity of the area as the space is too narrow and too close to the entrance.

They pointed out that most of the amenity for the estate is at the rear of the houses and leaving the existing open space at the front would help create a pleasing entrance to the scheme. These points were accepted by senior executive planner Diarmuid Houston.

Locals also expressed concern about house Number 11 reducing sight lines and creating a traffic hazard at the junction but the planning department disagreed, saying the principle of a house at this location has been established in previous applications.

Another objection related to an alleged shortage of car parking spaces, with 31 spaces allowed for 20 houses. In response, planners said the overall development required 65 spaces and the plan has a total of 67 spaces which exceeds parking requirements.

Other residents maintained that the excavation of foundations for No 11 would destabilise the retaining wall, causing damage to the existing wall at number 12 and would also lead to a loss of light on a stairs landing and downstairs entrance from overlooking.

Concerned householders said the Council acquired 12 apartments in the estate for social housing and an an adjoining amenity area primarily for the benefit of the Council apartments is not being maintained by either the local authority or the developer.

There is a solid wall in front of the Council apartments at the rear of the estate and a sharp drop down to ground floor level with an 'ugly disability access ramp', according to locals who want the local authority to engage with the developer to improve the area.

Planners acknowledged this point but said the County Council does not own the estate which has not yet been taken in charge.

Residents complained that the developer has not maintained the estate very well since the houses were built, a point that was also accepted by planners, along with the need for a children's play area.

Residents said construction vehicles should not be allowed to park in the estate and this was also accepted.

In a supplementary report, Mr. Houston said there was a past failure by the developer to carry out works on the site with the planning department involved in the serving of derelict site notices and actions to get the unfinished estate completed.

A derelict site notice was served on the site in April 2016, resulting in a major clean-up by the developer of unused lands within the estate, including the removal of broken security fencing and unsorted waste and the painting of the manor house.

Money from the building bond was used to appoint a contractor to finish outstanding works in the unoccupied part of the estate including the completion of public lighting, footpaths and road surfacing.

The cost amounted to €71,460 and there was a shortfall of €9,430 which will have be paid by the developer.

Mr. Houston said he was satisfied that the estate is now in an advanced state for taking in charge. The new development will require an additional bond of €7,000 for each house.

The executive planner recommended that planning permission be granted subject to conditions. He noted the objections to house Number 11 which would create a narrow entrance and obstruct views of Strandfield Manor. He agreed with the residents, saying the estate is built around Strandfield Manor which creates a sense of place and community and is also an important house in the urban fabric of Wexford town.

He recommended that house Number 11 be omitted and the site left as an open space with the boundary walls of the area to be plastered and painted.

It is proposed to lay a temporary construction road to minimise disruption to existing residents during the building.

Strandfield Manor was previously the subject of an application by the developer to demolish the building which was granted by the Borough Council and refused by An Bord Pleanála on appeal on the grounds that it is of architectural and historic merit even though it is not a protected structure.

It was re-roofed following fire damage and Trenco Developments are considering turning it into apartments.

Wexford People

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