The way has been cleared for the owner of the abandoned Clonmore shopping center (right) to demolish the building and develop 17 apartments on the site. A number of parties have appealed to An Bord Pleanála following the granting of planning permission by Westmeath County Council in July 2021 to Peadar Conlon, c/MMA Architects Ltd, Athlone for the development.
The appellants emphasized that they had no objection to the principle of development and welcomed the regeneration of the site. However, they wanted changes to the scale and quality of the proposed development.
An Bord Pleanála dismissed the objections and said that subject to meeting a set of 19 conditions, the development “would constitute an acceptable quantum and density of development” in what is an urban location.
The proposed development consists of the demolition of the Clonmore Shopping Centre, a mixed-use building with four outlets on the ground floor and six apartments on the first floor. The intention is to provide in its place a new three- and two-storey apartment building consisting of 17 two-bedroom apartments, parking, bicycle and bin storage, landscaping landscaping and all associated site work.
The inspector said there was a “significant” number of third-party objections to the proposed development from local residents. Their concerns centered on the height of the proposed building, the density of the development; lack of parking and open spaces and playgrounds. It was also noted that the design was not in harmony with the area and that there were concerns about the view.
Other points raised were that the bin store and roof could present anti-social behavior issues; that access through Newbrook Grove is insufficient to accommodate the proposal; and it was feared that the proximity to the junction would create a traffic hazard.
Objections were filed by the Newbrook and Clonmore Road Residents Association, the Clonmore Heights Residents Association and Ken and Claire Glynn, c/o David Mooney, 14 Old Farm Road, Cloughjordan, County Tipperary.
In his report, Board Inspector Pleanála said the site in question, which measures 2,145 square meters, is in a residential area of Mullingar. Newbrook Road has one-storey detached dwellings facing the site and Newbrook Grove consists of two-storey semi-detached units. Clonmore Heights to the rear and west of the site consists of two-storey dwellings.
Stating that there is an existing vacant building on the site in question, which is two-storey and flat-roofed, she said the “general overall look of the site is lifeless”.
The inspector said that one of the main objectives set out in the national planning framework is to achieve compact growth. The proposed density of the development was 79 dwellings per hectare, but this, she noted, was in line with national policy, “which seeks to increase residential density in settlements, through a series of measures including the reduction vacancy, reuse of existing buildings, infill development, urban amenities, regeneration by area or site and increase in building heights”.
“The proposed high density does not compromise existing residential amenities and represents a sustainable and efficient use of a strategic urban site reinforcing the compact residential growth of Mullingar town center next to public transport,” she wrote. .
The total height of the three-storey building is 9.215m, tapering to 6.515m over two floors along Newbrook Grove and culminating at 10 meters at the corner of the two roads. The inspector said she did not consider the height to be intrusive or oppressive when viewed from the surrounding area.