Plans for the demolition of a former public toilet and council store near the promenade in Youghal have been approved, despite objections from local residents.
An Bord Pleanála has rejected an appeal by Knockaverry Strand Residents’ Association against the decision of Cork County Council to grant planning permission for the demolition of the two buildings at the Front Strand in the East Cork town to allow for the construction of a “granny flat”.
The owner of the site, Kirby Kearns, a Qatar-based businessman, said the development was for use as a self-contained living space for his mother.
Mr Kearns bought the properties from Cork County Council for €50,000 as he wanted to add an annex to the former station master’s house in Youghal which he had already renovated.
However, the Knockaverry Strand Residents’ Association queried the council’s finding that the proposed development did not materially contravene the zoning of the site under the Youghal Town Development Plan.
They pointed out the plan also explicitly stated that views to the harbour should be protected from public viewing points, while claiming the plans by Mr Kearns would impair the visual connection from the beach to terraced houses along Upper Strand Road, some of which are listed buildings and in an Architectural Conservation Area.
The group said the scale and overlooking of the development would have a negative impact on the use of the beach.
It claimed the development would dilute “the wonderful amenity” that is the town’s main strand – one of Youghal’s main economic drivers – and remove any privacy left at that section of the beach.
The residents were supported by three local councillors, Noel Collins (Ind), Susan McCarthy (FG) and Danielle Twomey (SF) who also made submissions expressing concern about the development.
In response, Mr Kirby claimed overlooking of the public beach was a positive feature as it would bring the benefits of passive surveillance.
Due to its minor nature and scale and being an extension to a single residential property, An Bord Pleanála said it considered that the development would not materially contravene the zoning of the site subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions.
One of the board’s inspectors said the impact of the annex would not be significant or excessive and would be “a very significant improvement on the existing vacant/disused structures on the site”.
The inspector said the beach was already overlooked by other properties and the nearby promenade.