independent

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Lawlor offers to mediate in dispute over creche

David Tucker

Published 04/06/2013|05:42

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Discoveryland creche and Montessori at Newlands

A Wexford councillor has offered to mediate in a planning dispute between the owner of a creche and neighbouring residents in a cul-de-sac.

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A Wexford councillor has offered to mediate in a planning dispute between the owner of a creche and neighbouring residents in a cul-de-sac.

Ailish Lee of Discoveryland Creche and Montessori in Newlands has just been granted planning permission by Wexford Borough Council to increase the number of children catered for in the childcare facility, despite objections from residents concerned about traffic congestion.

Cllr. George Lawlor said he is willing to sit down with both sides in a bid to resolve the issue which was the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanala last year.

Ms. Lee was given permission by Wexford Borough Council last July to retain an extension to her premises near Wexford General Hospital.

Some residents were worried about increased traffic congestion in a residential area, and lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanala.

The appeals board upheld the Council decision but added a condition that the maximum number of children permitted in the childcare facility at any one time should be kept at 20, in the interest of 'clarity and residential amenity.'

The Council and An Bord Pleanala both decided that the extension to the childcare centre was in line with the Town Development Plan.

Residents welcomed the An Bord Pleanala ruling which was issued in January of this year as it placed a cap on the creche's numbers.

Subsequently, Ms. Lee applied again to the Council in March, seeking permission to change the An Bord Pleanala condition in order to increase the number of children, in line with an earlier HSE recommendation.

Discoveryland prevously received HSE approval for the 43 children it caters for, following an inspection of the extended building.

Three weeks ago Wexford Borough Council granted the application for an increase in numbers and notified objecting residents.

'We are now back to square one and we have to make a second appeal to An Bord Pleanala', said one of the Newlands residents.

He said householders are not opposed to a childcare facility in the estate but are concerned about the scale of the operation and traffic problems.

In their original letter of objection, residents told planners that a noticeable increase in numbers had created more traffic, especially during drop-off and collection times.

They said parking provisions at the premises were inadequate and double parking was a common problem.

Residents claimed the size of the facility is 'beyond what is sustainable ' for a 45-house estate.

When contacted this week, Ms. Lee said she wanted to reassure residents that numbers will not increase beyond the existing level of 43 approved by the HSE.

The creche owner said she has five car parking spaces on the premises for staff and set-down parking outside the building.

Some of her seven staff car pool or walk to work.

For the past two years, she has held her annual graduation ceremonies in Whites Hotel rather than Newlands in order to minimise traffic.

Ms. Lee said the Borough Council has established the principle of a creche in the area and her premises is fully compliant with planning.

'We want to get on with our neighbours. It's very important given the nature of the business that we have good relations with the people around us,' she said.

Ms. Lee said she has fixed potholes on the road in Newlands and has offered to maintain green areas in the estate.

Both the Borough Council and An Bord Pleanala refused Discoveryland permission to retain a wall-mounted sign at the premises.

Residents say the sign is still in place but Ms. Lee said the wall sign is exempt from planning due to its size.

Ms. Lee who lives in Coolballow, originally applied to the Council in December 2008 for permission to retain change of use from a dwelling house to a childrecare centre in Newlands and was successful in her application.

Wexford People

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