A planning row has erupted in Tralee over plans by a local secondary school to create a new pedestrian access gate to the town’s main park.
Local campaigners have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála (ABP) against the recent decision of Kerry County Council to grant planning permission to the Presentation Secondary School in Tralee to install three new automated vehicular gates and two new pedestrian gates as well as a widening of the main school entrance.
The school is located next to Tralee Town Park, known locally as “The Green”.
The Save the Green Committee claims there is no justification for another gate into the park whose control would be outside of council or public supervision.
“Presentation Secondary School already enjoys a substantial area of ground which was originally part of the park. The Green was originally 120 acres and is now reduced to 35 acres,” said the committee’s chairman, Tommy Collins.
The committee, which was established 50 years ago, said it had to be active many times over the last half-century to prevent damage or intrusion into the park.
Mr Collins said the proposed changes were threatening the park’s boundaries and could be “the thin edge of the wedge for the future”.
The committee said it was not aware of any safety incidents that justified the need for a new gate.
Mr Collins claimed the committee’s actions over its history had been found “necessary, welcome and productive” by the people of Tralee who had supported its vigilance.
However, consultants for the school said the changes had been proposed as the current layout of the main entrance gate was “a health and safety issue”.
The school said a new pedestrian gate to the park was also necessary as an alternative access/egress point in case of an emergency as the existing internal access gate used by pedestrians and cars was only wide enough to allow a single vehicle to pass through at any given time.
“We do not envisage how the proposed gate could have a detrimental effect on the town park,” it added.
It claimed a health and safety report commissioned by the school in September had also highlighted concerns on the same issue.
The consultants said the purpose of the other new pedestrian gate on the southern side of the school was “student welfare” as it would remove the requirement for students to enter and exit the school via the park.
In granting planning permission, Kerry County Council said a new access point between the school and a public area was acceptable as it did not believe it would impact negatively in any way on the enjoyment or use of Tralee Town Park.
A ruling by An Bord Pleanála case is due by the end of March 2020.