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25 May 2022

Former bank in Laois town labelled an 'eyesore' by senior county council director

Warning delivered to owner who is sitting on planning permision

portarlington

The state of the former AIB bank in Portarlington would not be tolerated in any other part of Ireland

One of the top officials in Laois County Council believes a former bank in Portarlington in an ‘eyesore’ that is already ‘derelict’ and he has warned the owners that County Hall officials are ready to force action.

Mr Gerry Murphy, Director of Services with responsibility for the Laois side of the border town, was replying to calls for action at a meeting of the Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District in relation to the state of the former AIB bank.

Cllr Aidan Mullins, Sinn Féin, led the clamour for work to be done. He said the condition of the building would be tolerated in no other part of Ireland.

He tabled a motion calling on Laois County Council to enforce the Derelict Sites Act with regard to the former AIB building on Main Street in Port.

In a written reply Mr David O’ Hara, A/Senior Planner, outlined what steps have been taken.

“A cross department team between Housing and Planning / Derelict Sites has been set up to review this property and its potential use. A list of works will be prepared under the Derelict sites Act and sent to the developer to render it non derelict. 

“It should be noted that under planning application Pl Ref 19/319, Laois County Council has granted planning permission to applicants Drumgoan Developments Limited for a comprehensive redevelopment of this site which contains two Protected Structures, RPS 128A and RPS 128B. The permission is valid up to 17th November 2024,” he sated.

While Cllr Mullins welcomed this he said he had raised the issue repeatedly in the last five years.

“It’s a protected structure and a lovely building but its condition wouldn’t be tolerated on any Main Street of any town in Ireland,” he said.

Cllr Mullins insisted that the grant of permission should not prevent the council from enforcing the derelict sites act.

“The developer may sit on the building for x number of years before anything is done,” he said.

He called on the council to make the developer clean up the front of the building part of which is cordoned off by a galvanise hoarding. 

“It is an eyesore that is so frustrating for the tidy towns who work so hard around the town and you have this disgusting site,” he said.

He added that the whole of Main Street has been upgraded and now looks great.

“The property owners feel very frustrated. Everyone else is making an effort,” he said.

He praised the council for the help given and the work done on the street.

Cllr PJ Kelly, Fine Gael, agreed.

“It almost looks like that if it was left long enough it would fall,” he said.

Cllr Aisling Moran, Fine Gael, also backed her colleague but she was not convinced about what meaningful steps had been taken. She said the council had given him the same response when Cllr Mullins raised the matter previously. She said the owners could be penalised differently.

“The developers should not be given any more planning permissions until they look after the problems in Portarlington,” he said.

She asked the council if a derelict site levy would be imposed.

Mr Gerry Murphy, Director of Services with responsibility for Port, told councillors that that the owners would be given a number of works to carry out work.

“If they don’t do that it would probably be declared derelict - because it is derelict. We all see that,” he said.

He said it should not take long for the derelict site process to move forward especially if there is no communication from the owners. He said charges would follow on from a notice of dereliction being served.

“It is an eyesore in the middle of Portarlington,” he said.

Mr Murphy told Cllr Paschal McEvoy that other buildings could be added to the work of the team appointed to tackle the bank dereliction. 

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