SIR – The primary planning report contained in the planning file 17/636 relating to the supermarket at Reenrour West, Bantry, makes for interesting reading, not least because it casts a spotlight on the planning and legal status of Cork County Council’s halting site that adjoins the supermarket’s western boundary.
The planners report is very thorough and considers, among other matters, the potential impact of the proposed development on adjoining properties and local residents.
The report is crystal clear stating, ‘to the west of the development site are unauthorised mobile homes.’ To emphasise the point, the report continues: ‘In this instance, at the subject sites at townlotts there are no such lawful residential properties immediately adjoining the supermarket.’
No ambiguity then – Cork County Council’s halting site that immediately adjoins the western boundary of the supermarket at Reenrour West, Bantry is unauthorised development and, by default, unlawful. It is clear too that, as owner and operator of the halting site, Cork County Council continues to engage in unauthorised development flying in the face of the professional assessment by its own planners.
This is no ordinary planning matter, because Cork County Council is the planning authority tasked with upholding the law and the integrity of the planning system. It is also tasked with taking enforcement action on foot of complaints of unauthorised development and it has received at least one that I know of in this case.
As expected, Cork County Council will not investigate the complaint, preferring instead to shield itself from planning scrutiny by claiming the development is ‘time barred.’ That response ignores the fact that, ‘time barred’ or not, the development remains unauthorised and unlawful.
The Council’s response is not credible and demands rebuke because it chooses to frustrate legitimate complaints rather than expose itself to the lawful scrutiny of planning compliance and enforcement applied to the population at large.
The planners report has wider implications too, because Cork County Council were aware of it prior to adopting the Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019-2024 and part of that policy is predicated on unauthorised development.
Cork County Council’s imposition of a halting site by way of unauthorised development at the heart of Bantry is not sustainable. It contravenes the County Development Plan and the Local Area Plan and calls into question the Council’s commitment to plan and assist the orderly development of the town.
Bantry deserves better from Cork County Council. It must take its responsibilities in this area seriously and act accordingly.