a local undertaker claims that there could soon be no embalming facility in the county, if he does not get planning permission for his Dublin Road funeral home.
Ray and Mary Goode had their application for a funeral home opposite the parish church in Portlaoise refused by Laois County Council earlier this year, after the council said that the land had been zoned residential.
However, in his appeal to An Bord Pleanala, Mr Goode said that there is currently no private funeral home in the town of Portlaoise and the only one which exists is on HSE grounds.
He also claims that last year the HSE gave notice to all undertakers in the county that the embalming facilities for public use would cease in July 2010, and that the facility would only be used for hospital cases after this time. However, he said a former Minister of State and a Town Councillor, both of who are practising undertakers, approached the Minister for Health and requested that the time limit be extended. Mr Goode also claims that he is carrying out the embalming for an undertaking business in Mountmellick which was recently given planning permission.
“As you will see there is an immediate need for embalming facilities and a funeral home in Portlaoise and I accordingly took it upon myself to look into the possibility of developing my own funeral business with a view to building a funeral home and all the associated services,” he writes.
The appellant explains he chose the Dublin Road site due to its town centre location and close proximity to the local parish church.
Mr Goode also accuses Portlaoise Town Councillors of a “publicity stunt to de-rail the good work” he had already completed with residents in relation to car parking in the area. He said town councillors raised the issue of a boundary wall between houses on the Borris Road and the sports hall at the back of St Mary’s Hall, which was knocked in the mid 1960s. The councillors said when the hall was in use, parked cars blocked the rear access to some of the houses.
The consultant engineer who submitted the planning application on behalf of the Goode’s claims that there has been an error exists in the zoning of lands, as the lands were rezoned residential despite the fact that a commercial building exists on the site.
Planning permission was also granted for a commercial development two years ago.
Philip Bennet said the council refused the application based on an issue with zoning, but this was not brought up at either pre-planning meetings or during the further information requests. He said there were also commercial buildings nearby.
The HSE was unavailable for comment on the embalming service.