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Blarney Castle. Shutterstock
blarney rubble

Blarney Castle challenges decision to grant planning for hotel and supermarket 200 metres from castle

The case will be heard again in April.

THE OPERATOR OF the world-famous Blarney Castle has brought a High Court challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for a hotel and supermarket development on a site 200 metres from the attraction.

The Blarney Castle Estate Partnership wants the court to overturn the board’s decision to grant Irish Conference and Leisure Holdings Ltd permission to develop an 80-bedroom hotel, licensed supermarket, commercial/office buildings, coffee shop and 70 residential units at St Ann’s Road Monacnapa, Blarney Co Cork.

The partnership claims that the proposed development would seriously detract from the character of the castle and Blarney Town Centre.

It would also seriously undermine the sustainable development of the area by harming its status as a major tourist attraction, the partnership claims.

The partnership, which operates the tourist and visitor attractions at the Castle, is made up of the castle’s owner Charles Colthurst and Flintcroft Ltd.

Represented by Stephen Dodd SC, with Garvan Corkery Bl, the Partnership says it supports the principle of the development of a hotel and leisure development on the site.

However, it believes that the proposed development would damage the castle’s character and reputation as a major tourist attraction.

Mr Dodd told the High Court on Monday that pre Covid-19 the castle attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, and in one of the most well-known tourist amenities in Ireland and beyond. Counsel said that the partnership is very concerned about the impact that the proposed development, located on neighbouring lands some 200 metres from his client’s estate.

The action is being brought on grounds including that the board did not give any adequate reasons for its decision to grant planning permission.

The decision went against its own inspector, expert submissions and Cork County Council which said permission should not be granted.

It is alleged that the board did not state why it arrived at its conclusion that the proposed development would not seriously injure or detract from the character of the Castle, which is in a Architecture Conservation Area.

The board also erred in law by misinterpreting local plans including the 2014 Cork Co Development Plan in concluding that the proposed development was not in material convention of those schemes, it is claimed.

It is also alleged that the board erred by failing to have regard for the impact that the proposed development will have on the Castle and other protected structures in the area.

The board did not have any proper regard to Architectural Heritage Guidelines, it is also claimed.

It is further claimed the board’s decision that the proposed development would align with additional development of Blarney as a key tourist destination was irrational and failed to consider relevant considerations.

In its proceedings against the board, where the developer is a notice party, the partnership seeks various orders and declarations from the court including an order quashing the planning permission for the proposed development which was granted last December.

The partnership also seeks an order under the 2000 Planning and Development Act and EU Aarhus Convention that protective costs apply in this case.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday.

The judge, on an ex-parte basis, granted the partnership permission to bring its challenge against the decision.

The matter was made returnable to a date in April.

Aodhan O Faolain