Thursday 24 October 2019

Blarney Castle owner opposes nursing home and houses plan

Blarney Castle is in the top 10 of Irish fee-paying attractions
Blarney Castle is in the top 10 of Irish fee-paying attractions

Gordon Deegan

The owner of one of Ireland's most visited tourist attractions, Blarney Castle in Co Cork, has stalled plans for a 120-bed nursing home and 29 detached houses.

Last month, Cork County Council gave the go-ahead to Hydro Estates for the nursing home and 25 of the houses at St Ann's Hill, Kilnamucky, Tower, Blarney.

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However, the plans are now on hold with Blarney Castle owner Charles Colthurst lodging an appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the decision.

Last year, Blarney Castle featured in the top 10 fee-paying attractions. The planning consultants acting for Mr Colthurst, McCutcheon Halley, claim the development "will have a significant negative visual impact" on the castle.

The nursing home is to be built on the site of the former St Ann's Hydropathic Establishment.

The planning consultants for Mr Colthurst point out that Blarney Castle is a protected structure and attracts almost 500,000 people annually, most of whom are foreign tourists.

The appeal states: "Most visitors to Blarney climb to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney Stone and are afforded 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside.

"The castle's value as a national tourism asset is intrinsically linked with views from the top of the castle, making the protected structure visually sensitive."

McCutcheon Halley said "the view to the west towards Tower village and the proposed development is significant as it is the main view for tourists as they wait in line to kiss the stone. The site of the proposed development forms an important and significant element of the view to the west."

The appeal states that the proposed development at St Ann's Hill will have a significant negative visual impact on the castle and is not consistent with the Special Policy Area Objective to allow 'small scale' residential development and to ensure that the special and unique character of the site is conserved and enhanced.

The Cork County Council decision giving the plan the go-ahead stated that the development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area and would be in accordance with the proper planning and development of the area.

The Council gave the plan the green light subject to 60 conditions.

A decision is due on the appeal in January.

Irish Independent

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