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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

Pat Kenny 'flabbergasted' by decision to allow nursing home he fears will harm badgers

Kenny said that because of so much other construction work in the area ‘this is the badgers’ Alamo – they have nowhere else to go’.

BROADCASTER PAT KENNY, his wife Kathy and their Dalkey neighbours have lost out in their long running planning battle to prevent a planned five storey nursing home getting the go-ahead.

This follows An Bord Pleanala giving the Richard Barrett-led Bartra Property Ltd the green light for the 104 bed nursing home at Yonder, Ulverton Rd and Harbour Rd, Dalkey on lands that border the Kenny family home.

The appeals board ruling overturns a planning refusal issued more than two years ago in June 2021 by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to Bartra Property Ltd the scheme.

A central part of the Kennys’ opposition against the planned nursing home was the impact it would have on local badgers.

Kenny said today: “Kathy and I are flabbergasted by the decision which is bizarre on so many fronts.”

The former Late Late Show host said that the proposal was comprehensively rejected by the council.

Kenny said: “An Bord Pleanala’s decision is wrong on so many levels and we can only conclude that the board is so-overworked that they can’t look properly at plans and analyse them because this makes no sense whatsoever.”

He said: “The board don’t appear to understand the observations made by local people. I would have thought the board would have learned from the Paul Hyde scandal and they should take due care and consideration of all observations and of Government guidelines.”

The Newstalk broadcaster described the appeals board ruling as “crazy, absolutely crazy – the board will be judged ultimately by what happens.”

Kenny wouldn’t be drawn on the prospect of a locals’ High Court challenge against the decision.

He said: “I don’t believe that the board has a mandate to ride roughshod over local people.”

He said: “All we wanted the board and the Council to do was to follow the rules and those rules involve protecting the badger.”

Kenny said that because of so much other construction work in the area “this is the badgers’ Alamo – they have nowhere else to go”.

He contended that “the board with this decision has effectively killed the badgers.”

Kathy Kenny described the board green light as a “nonsensical permission”.

She said: “The decision is a surprise.”

She pointed out that there wouldn’t be any issue if the rules concerning badger conservation had been adhered to.

In their original objection, the Kennys expressed the belief that the badgers would not survive the development works for the nursing home.

The fears of the Kennys over the fate of the badgers were endorsed by Government heritage experts who told the Council that it seems unlikely that the various elements of the nursing home scheme can be constructed without encroachment on, and at least the partial destruction of the badger sett, probably including its main chambers.

Now, as part of the permission, the appeals board has included a condition that during construction, no blasting or pile diving is to take place within 150 metres of an active badger sett during the breeding season from December to June or construction work within 50 metres of such an active sett during the breeding season.

The board stated that the condition was included “in the interest of wildlife protection”.

The applicants have also lodged a Badger Conservation Plan with the application.

The Kennys stated that there has been an active badger sett within the grounds of their home for in excess of 20 years.

As part of an objection against the scheme the Kennys had claimed that the excavation for the nursing home building at the southern end of the site would destroy the sett “and with it, the badger family”.

The Kennys stated that any destruction of the badger sett would be “cruel and unconscionable.”

However, the appeals board granted planning permission after concluding that the proposed development would not endanger pedestrian or traffic safety, would not seriously injure the residential amenity of property in the area by overshadowing or overlooking or the visual amenity of the wider area.

The appeals board also concluded that the scheme would not give rise to unacceptable ecological impacts.

In making its decision, the appeals board had regard to the zoning designation of the site; the existing, but under-utilised, use of the site for residential development and the location of the site in an urban area where community facilities, transport links and public piped services are available.

The Kennys’ Anchorage property has a boundary with the proposed development site at the southern end of the site and the Bartra appeal stated that all development has been removed from the southern end of the site and a residents’ garden is provided in lieu.

As part of a 32 page report, An Bord Pleanala inspector, Hugh Mannion recommended that planning permission be granted.

Mannion concluded that no unacceptable interference with badgers within the site will arise from carrying out the proposed development.

In the Bartra appeal, consultants, Thornton O’Connor Town Planning stated that the scheme will give future residents of the nursing home the opportunity to remain living within the community whilst receiving appropriate care and support.

Thornton O’Connor stated that the aim of the scheme has been to provide the highest quality architecture, whilst ensuring that the proposed development will have no material impact on neighbouring residential amenity.

The planning go-ahead by the appeals board for the nursing home brings to an end the latest planning battle concerning the site.

Bartra was previously refused planning permission by the Council for an apartment scheme on the nursing home site and was successful at the appeals board at having the Council decision overturned in July 2019.

Bartra has been contacted for comment.

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