Gate ‘shut’ on farmer’s planning application

A Co. Limerick farmer is in the midst of a struggle to gain entry to his land after plans to erect a gate and build a new entrance were turned down for the second time.

On top of this, the farmer also no longer has permission to access the field through the previous entry point.

Limerick City and County Council refused the application made by Eddie Hennessy, of Cloghnadromin, Ballysimon last year.

According to the application, the farmer had asked to “remove existing concrete post fencing and planting and fit a standard farm gate and piers”.

Refusal

The reasons stated for the refusal include that the proposed development would be “contrary to the proper planning and development of the area”.

This reason is given “because it constitutes a new access on a heavily-trafficked section of the national road network – the N24 Limerick to Tipperary national primary road – at a point where the maximum speed limit for this type of road applies and the traffic turning movements generated by the proposed development would interfere with the safety and free flow of traffic on the adjoining road”.

Hennessy appealed the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanala. He listed a number of grounds for appealing it.

Among these it was stated that when he purchased the land holding, around 20 years ago, it had the benefit of a right-of-way onto the roadway; however, that entrance arrangement was never used as alternative access was available through adjoining lands.

“However, within the last 12 months the adjacent lands have changed ownership and the new landowner has stated that he no longer wants the applicant to cross his lands due to the potential for damage. He has further submitted that the applicant should use his own entrance via the right of way,” the document states.

The adjacent landowner has continuously complained of the applicant’s alleged trespass/crossing of his lands and has threatened to cease same through the erection of a fence.

“The landholding proposed to be served by the new entrance arrangement is of particular importance to the applicant, as he operates a ‘family farm’ which is reliant on the drawing of silage from the lands in question,” read the grounds of appeal.

In his submission, Hennessy said adequate sightlines are available from the proposed entrance onto the public road in both directions. And the proposed entrance will not give rise to any increase in traffic movements to or from the applicant’s landholding.

Neighbour

In support of the grounds of appeal, the board was referred to the accompanying correspondence addressed to Hennessy from the neighbouring landowner’s legal representatives which states the following:

“We are instructed that you have been crossing the southern boundary of Mr. Keogh’s property for the purpose of access to adjoining lands.

Please note that you have no authority or right whatsoever to enter or in any way use that particular portion of our client’s property and we now call upon you to immediately refrain from doing so again.

The board decided to refuse permission, generally in accordance with the inspector’s recommendation, for the following reasons and considerations.

The inspector’s report, which runs to 12 pages, was published last week.

Reasoning

The board cited the ‘Spatial Planning and National Roads – Guidelines for Planning Authorities’, issued by the Department of the Environment, to avoid the creation of any additional access point from a new development to national roads where speed limits greater than 60kph apply.

The Limerick County Development Plan, 2010-2016, seeks to protect the capacity and safety of the national road network in the county and states that developments that require a new access [point] onto a national road will not be permitted.

“The proposed development would involve the creation of a new access [point] onto the N24 national primary road, where a speed limit of 100kph applies,” the board responded.

“It is considered that the traffic turning movements generated by the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard.

“[It] would interfere with the free flow of traffic on this national road, compromise the level of service and carrying capacity of the road at this location, fail to protect public investment in the national road network – both by itself and by the undesirable precedent it would set for similar such development.

“The proposed development would contravene the provisions of guidelines and objectives of the County Development Plan, and would – therefore – be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” stated the board.