Action needed on Clarecastle’s “concrete jungle”

Action needed on Clarecastle’s “concrete jungle”

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Councillor Paul Murphy, Deputy Joe Carey and Clarecastle Tidy Towns Committee Chairman Christy Leyden at the abandoned Cois Fhorgais site.
Councillor Paul Murphy, Deputy Joe Carey and Clarecastle Tidy Towns Committee Chairman Christy Leyden at the abandoned Cois Fhorgais site.

A derelict site in Clarecastle which has been described as an “eyesore” is now the subject of a campaign to have it returned to a Greenfield site.

Labelled as a “substantial town centre mixed use development”, Cois Fheargais on the Limerick side of Clarecastle had secured planning permission for 25 commercial and 92 residential units on an eight acre site known locally as Devine’s Field. The foundations were laid; an underground car park with 344 spaces substantially completed and site works well under way when the recession hit and Grant Thornton were appointed receivers after the developers ran into financial difficulty.

Over the intervening years, the abandoned development has become a derelict eyesore and a five year extension of the planning permission granted by Clare County Council expired last April.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2016
Photo: © Pat Flynn 2016

Fine Gael Cllr Paul Murphy at the December meeting of the Ennis Municipal District requested that the district “liaise with the planning development of Clare County Council in seeking a resolution to the continued problem and eyesore that is the abandoned development of Cois Fheargais”.

In response, Brian McCarthy, senior planner with the local authority said “It is noted that a recommendation has been made for the site to remain on the Department of Environment’s unfinished estates list for 2017. As the planning permission on the site has now expired the Planning Authority has been in contact with the receiver regarding site maintenance and management with a view to resolving the issues”.

McCarthy continued “There is on-going contact and liaison with the local Tidy Towns Committee regarding hoarding maintenance and vegetation. The Planning Authority is committed to working with all interested parties to try to address the unfinished nature of this site and the associated maintenance and management of same”.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2016
Photo: © Pat Flynn 2016

Speaking in the Council Chamber on the matter, Murphy who resides in Clarecastle illustrated how the site lets down the village. “As you approach from Clarecastle look to your left and you see a beautiful quay but on your right you see mass steel”. He feels it is a health and safety hazard which undermines development work and imminent streetscapes work. Paul informed the meeting that a Greenfield site is what the people of Clarecastle want and is eagerly awaiting the response of the receivers.

“You only have to drive through Clarecastle to see the pride of place that’s there” said Cllr Mary Howard. There is a need to be “proactive” on this issue in Howard’s eyes as it tarnishes the image of the village.

Fianna Fáil’s Clare Colleran Molloy added that she is well aware of the efforts of the local tidy towns committee as she lives in Clarecastle. “When you come from Latoon you wonder what the atrocity of a building is and then realise it’s a concrete jungle”.

Johnny Flynn was the final councillor to speak on the subject. He believes doing work on this site provides Clare County Council with the opportunity to solve two issues. Flynn referenced flood reports which indicated that a relief channel to the left of the forage of the Cois Fheargais site would be suitable. He stated that it was crucial to resolve the “eyesore”.

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