Woodlawn Park development gets go ahead despite inspector warning

The vacant site in Woodlawn Park. Photo: Google Maps.

PLANNING permission for a social housing development on the outskirts of the city have been granted by An Bord Pleanála, despite the organisation’s own inspector recommending that it be refused.

The development site at the corner of the Woodlawn Park housing estate is set for 15 apartments, which would be used as sheltered housing for older people and people with disabilities.

Plans were granted by Limerick City and County Council in May 2022, but was subsequently appealed by the Woodlawn Park Residents Association.

Local residents cited concerns about traffic flow into and out of the estate, which sits just off the Ballysimon Road, if the development was allowed to go ahead.

The residents, in their objection letter, also raised issues around parking and the potential for congestion at the entrance to the estate, which has the potential to be exacerbated by the new development.

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An inspector for An Bord Pleanála (ABP) also visited the site and recommended that permission be refused for the development, stating that they were “not satisfied that the development as proposed would not result in the creation of an obstruction for vulnerable road users.”

The inspector’s report also said that the board “is therefore satisfied that the development, if permitted as proposed, would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and would cause an obstruction to pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users.”

The inspector also issued a warning that the current plan may hinder access to the site by emergency vehicles.

Despite this, ABP decided to overrule its inspector and grant permission for the development.

This comes as Limerick Chamber recently called out the number of significant high profile developments in the city that have been  stalled by appeals to ABP in recent months.

In granting permission for the development, ABP said that the development “would not seriously injure the amenities of the area”, adding that the scheme is “modest” and shouldn’t lead to traffic gridlock within the estate.

In relation to traffic issues and concerns about whether emergency vehicles would be able to access the site if needed, ABP were of the opinion that there would be sufficient space provided.

“The Board noted that the scheme is modest in scale with a short distance of internal shared surface area, and with clearly demarcated associated parking and turning capability,” An Bord Pleanála’s decision letter said.

“Given the modest requirements for movement which would be generated by the proposed development, and the low speed of any vehicle movements here in practice … the Board did not agree that a refusal of permission was warranted on this issue.”