Galetech workers on another part of the site adjacent to Killymooney Lough.

Concerns raised over plans for estate

Plans for a new housing estate in Cavan Town have been described as “making a mockery of councillors”.

Galetech Sustainable Living has applied for permission to build 26 three-bed homes at Aghnaskerry, overlooking Killymooney Lough.

The site is currently zoned for residential development but, as it stands, this will change to Amenity and Open Space under the draft County Development Plan 2022-2028, meaning development cannot take place.

Under the plans, an existing derelict house on the site will be demolished to make way for the new estate.

Twelve of the houses will be dormer style, semi-detached dwellings with a basement. The other 14 will be two-storey, semi-detached houses. The plans also include access roads, footpaths, street lighting and connections to public services.

The development has prompted concern from some local residents. Seamus Galligan from Ardkeen has described the plans as "underhand", saying they make “a mockery of councillors voting on the plan at all”. He questioned the decision to proceed with the planning application at this stage, and believes the site should be protected from development.

He’s described the lake as “Instagram stuff” and said a site like it in any other European country would be safe due to its natural beauty.

Speaking to The Anglo-Celt this week Seamus also raised concerns over an increase of traffic in the area if the houses are given the go ahead. He said the volume of traffic, particularly at school time, could make access difficult. He claimed one local resident had been unable to leave their house as a vehicle was blocking access.

Cavan County Council has said planning applications granted before the implementation of the new County Development Plan will be governed by the plan in place at the time the permission was granted.

It means, if granted, the estate could be built under current regulations.

The decision to alter the zoning was made by councillors in May, despite the objections of a senior planner.

Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley and Patricia Walsh proposed the area be zoned as 'Amenity and Open Space' in order to provide a public open space and 'appropriate park and open space' facility in Cavan Town at Killymooney Lough.

Senior planner Nicholas O’Kane told the May meeting that discussions had been taking place between the Council and owners of the site, describing it as an “open and interactive” relationship. He said this had led to securing investment for a community park area, with a jetty, walking paths and seating area.

Conscious not to compromise the ecology of the lough, Mr Kane said of what had been agreed with the developer: “We think the balance struck is the right balance.”

He also stressed the importance of having centrally located sites available for residential development if needed.

The County Development Plan 2022-2028 is currently still in draft stage, and alterations can be made for a number of months.

A final decision on its implementation is not expected until mid 2022.

In a submission to the County Council on the plan, the Office of the Planning Regulator questioned the proposed rezoning of the site at Killymooney Lough. It says there “is insufficient justification for the extent” of the rezoning at Aghnaskerry and at another site along Keadue Lane and that some of the lands "could contribute to compact and sequential development and consolidation of the town”.

In a statement to The Anglo-Celt, Galetech Sustainable Living said they are “committed to playing its part in delivering the homes, which Cavan urgently needs” and the lands are “designated as the highest priority for residential development within the CDP”.

They added that the company has been working towards the proposed development at Aghnaskerry for “some time” and they has “adhered to the highest environmental standards throughout the process”.

A Natural Impact Statement submitted to Cavan County Council as part of the planning process examined the potential impact the development could have on the Lough Oughter and Associated Loughs Special Area of Conservation.

It identified a number of potential impacts, including a deterioration in water quality in the system due to water runoff and pollution from the site. However, the statement said the risk would be lessened with mitigation measures.

A decision on the development is expected by mid-October.

Cootehill development

Galetech Sustainable Living meanwhile was granted permission for a separate development in Cootehill last week.

The plan is to convert a vacant commercial building on Market Street into four townhouses.