Permission has been granted for 79 new houses in Portlaoise near the Summerhill schools campus, despite an objection from a local resident who feared the new development would be out of character with the existing Aghnaharna Drive.
Bircrest Ltd has been given the greenlight by Laois County Council to remove the existing foundation pads for a previously permitted apartment block at Aghnaharna and instead build 79 two-storey terraced, semi-detached and detached dwellings, comprising 19 four-bedroom house and 60 three- bedroom houses.
Also included in the plans is a total of 158 new parking spaces; the creation and landscaping of a vehicular entrance from the Portlaoise Southern Circular Road to Aghnaharna Drive; and the provision of a pedestrian access located off the Portlaoise Southern Circular Road at the south-eastern corner of the site.
However, a submission was made to the council during the planning process by Fergus Walsh, 90 Aghnaharna Drive, who said the development would be out of proportion with the existing Aghnaharna Drive which consists solely of detached houses.
“The addition of 79 new terraced and semi detached houses on a substantially smaller site adjacent to the existing estate changes the fabric and the character of the existing estate which was originally planned as an estate with detached houses only,” he said.
Mr Walsh also said the existing green space at Aghnaharna Drive is insufficient to cater for additional 79 houses. He further said that the development would cause additional traffic issues for an area that already has heavy morning traffic due to the proximity of two large primary school complexes in the area.
A further submission was made to the council by Irene Redmond, chairperson of the Aghnaharna Drive Residents Committee, who said that while residents were happy to see the site developed, they strongly objected to a proposed walkway.
The residents said they had major problems in the estate when the new schools opened, with cars constantly parking due to a lack of parking facilities in the school. They believed that if the walkway was opened they would have the same problems and their estate will become “a car park for frustrated drivers”.
They also said the walkway would give way to any potential troublemakers to have an easy escape from the estate. The similar estate of Glenbarrow once had a walkway and this led to such antisocial problems that it had to be blocked up, they said.
A petition signed by some 133 people was included with this submission.
The council has now granted permission, saying that the proposed development would be consistent with the provisions of the Laois County Development Plan 2017-2023, the Portlaoise Local Area Plan 2018-2024 and with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Among the planning conditions are that 30km/h signs be installed at the entrance and surface water infrastructure is needed. Public lighting is to be installed and the open space area shall be reserved as public open space only.
A cash deposit of €7,620 per house is to be paid to secure the completion and maintenance of roads, paths, sewers, etc. A total development contribution of €316,000 is to be paid to the council