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The proposed development Ashbourne Holdings Ltd
Old Head of Kinsale

Plans for luxury holiday apartments by owner of Cork golf course opposed by local residents

The apartments are being developed by Ashbourne Holdings, the owner of the nearby Old Head of Kinsale golf course.

A PLANNING ROW has broken out over plans by the owner of one of Cork’s best-known golf courses to develop luxury holiday apartments which local residents claim will cause “irreversible damage to a beautiful quiet area”.

Several local families have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the recent decision of Cork County Council to grant planning permission for the construction of “farmhouse” tourist accommodation at Ballymackean, Old Head, Kinsale, Co Cork.

The apartments are being developed by Ashbourne Holdings, the owner of the nearby Old Head of Kinsale golf course.

The company has secured permission to demolish an existing farmhouse and agricultural buildings on the 6.7-hectare site and replace them with four, single-storey “farmhouse” apartment units each containing four ensuite bedrooms as well as a two-storey “barn” containing a further two holiday apartments.

The plans also provided for a walled garden and caretaker’s lodge as well as car parking spaces for 16 vehicles and four golf buggys.

However, one local resident, Maurice Fitzgerald, said the development would impact on his family’s quality of life through a loss of privacy and sea-views.

“These structures will now loom in front of our window when for generations our family had enjoyed the beauty of this scenery now under threat,” said Fitzgerald.

He added: “It seems like this application is a purely for profit plan without any care for impact to the locality and close neighbours.”

Another local couple, Manjana Strey and Holger Diepes, claim such a massive development does not fit the rural character of the area and will block the sea view for local residents and visitors as well as causing light pollution.

They also argue that the local road network cannot accommodate the extra traffic that would be generated by the proposed development.

The couple have called on the developer to relocate the proposed “barn” building within the site in order to protect the environment of a high value landscape.

“The business plan of the Old Head management looks to be weak as they need to exploit a high value landscape to attract customers,” they added.

They also expressed concern that the developer might seek in future to have a helicopter landing pad close to the site.

Another appellant, Brian Dowling, claimed the plans by Ashbourne Holdings represented “elite mass tourism” when local people had difficulty getting planning permission in the area for homes for their children.

He also expressed concern that the provision of water for the new apartments would have a huge impact on the water table in the area.

Consultants for Ashbourne Holdings claim the Old Head Golf Links, which opened in 1997, attracts around 20,000 visitors annually but it is unable to meet the current demand for high-quality accommodation in the Kinsale area.

Approximately 80% of all visitors come from overseas including 50% from the US.

They claimed the proposed development is designed “to give visitors to OHGL more reasons and greater opportunity to stay longer and so spend more money in the wider Kinsale area.”

The developer said the five-star, fully-serviced apartments were part of a wider €32 million development plan that also includes up to 40 units with rooftop restaurant and bar at the Pier Road Townhouse in Kinsale town and an extension to the golf course’s clubhouse which would provide five additional bedroom suites, new dining facilities and changing rooms.

The clubhouse extension was completed in June 2020, while plans for the Pier Road Townhouse were postponed after initial consultations with the council in 2019 led the developer to consider its plans were unfeasible due to the lack of provision for car parking.

Ashbourne Holdings said its golf course makes a “very significant contribution” to tourism in the Kinsale area, which will be increased by the proposed development.

It estimates that the new accommodation will generate a total of 6,432 extra visitors and 16,080 additional bed nights per annum which it believes will contribute an additional €4 million to the local economy.

It will also generate 80 new full-time jobs as well as over 500 during the construction phase.

Green fees for the course, which is not affiliated with the Golf Union of Ireland, range from €225 to €395 in 2023.

A ruling by An Bord Pleanála on the appeal is due in early December.

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Seán McCárthaigh
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