PLANS to build a €1.8 million youth centre in Ballynanty have been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála, despite strenuous objections from local residents.
The Ballynanty Residents Opposition Committee, which launched the An Bord Pleanála appeal earlier this year, will now meet on Tuesday evening to decide whether to mount a High Court challenge against the development.
Committee spokesperson Anne-Marie Stacke told Limerick Post: “The residents are very upset; we have to discuss our next step now. We can appeal to the High Court but we don’t know yet if we will be going down that route.”
Ms Stacke said the residents were extremely disappointed that An Bord Pleanála overturned an inspector’s recommendation to refuse permission.
She commented: “It’s very disappointing for the residents that the inspector who came to inspect the area didn’t think the site suitable and recommended that permission be refused, but the independent committee overturned her recommendation.
“This independent committee is made up of engineers, plumbers etc. who would not have even seen the site but yet the had the final decision. It is very unusual for something like that to happen, usually they would go with the inspector’s recommendation”.
The proposed JP McManus-funded centre would be located next to Thomond Park and include a multipurpose hall with stage area, a café/kitchen and a number of meeting rooms.
According to the An Bord Pleanála report, the board decided not to accept the inspector’s recommendation as it considered that “the loss of public open space to the local community would be compensated by the service provided”.
It also deemed that “the issue of overshadowing of the community allotments was not sufficient reason to justify refusal of planning permission”.
The decision now lies with city councillors who will vote on whether to dispose of the public land to permit the youth centre to be built on the site.
Labour Party city councillor Tom Shortt, who has been a vocal supporter of the development, said: “There is now an enormous responsibility on the 17 councillors to ensure that this €2 million will be spent on providing a modern service to the youth of the northside. People are constantly complaining about anti-social behaviour and a lack of facilities; we now have an opportunity to provide facilities.
“The last people who will have a say on this are the councillors and they have a huge responsibility to do the right thing.”
He added that the opposition group had “no more moves left”.
Cllr Shortt concluded: “The development has passed the planning process. The protestors have had their day and they should end their campaign now. It’s time to end the divisiveness in the community. The residents need to put their fears to bed, this will be a very well run facility.”