Limerick City housing scheme scuppered over uncertain impact on otters

Computer generated image of the proposed Canal Bank development on Pa Healy Road.

PLANS for a large scale ‘build to rent’ and student accommodation development in Limerick City have been scuppered because of uncertainty over its impact on otters in the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation.

An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission to Revington Developments Ltd for a scheme of 363 build to rent apartments, 61 student apartments incorporating 189 student bedspaces and 18 ‘executive houses’ at Canal Bank on the Pa Healy Road.

The scheme, which also included retail units on a site 800 metres north east of Limerick City centre, incorporated seven apartment blocks one of which was ten storeys in height.

The planning appeals board stated that it was precluded from granting permission due to inadequate information provided by the developers on the impact of the development on Lutra Lutra Otters in the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

It is the second time that An Bord Pleanála has cited nature conservation issues in refusing planning permission to Revington for a scheme at the site, having previously rejected a similar development in May 2020.

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The firm lodged its current planning application in May 2022 but, following the adoption of the Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028, the appeals board has extended the grounds for refusal.

The development plan states that tall buildings outside the city centre will only be permitted at designated locations.

The site is not identified as one to support a tall building and is not located in an area where densities in excess of 100 units per hectare are encouraged.

In the absence of a material contravention statement for the scheme, the appeals board stated that a grant of planning permission would be contrary to proper planning and sustainable development.

It also pointed out that the land use zoning of the site was designated ‘new residential’ and retail was not allowed.

The board also refused planning permission on the grounds that it was not satisfied, based on the information submitted, that the scheme would not give rise to flooding elsewhere.

As part of her 127 page report, Senior Bord Pleanála Inspector Mary MacMahon noted that the Limerick City and County Council report recommending that planning permission be granted had been overtaken by the new development plan.