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Gordon Deegan

Wicklow council refuses planning permission for €40m boutique resort at Magheramore Beach

The Council refused planning permission on seven separate grounds.

WICKLOW COUNTY COUNCIL has refused planning permission to a €40 million ‘bustling’ boutique holiday resort and surf school planned by Paddy McKillen Jnr for cliff top lands overlooking Magheramore Beach.

In a comprehensive rejection of the scheme, the Council has refused planning permission on seven separate grounds.

The planned resort consists of a two storey over lower ground level building containing a gym, sauna, cinema and outdoor pool reception, bar and restaurant and outdoor terrace at ground floor and also involves the construction of a surf school building and 48 “high-quality accommodation pods”.

Documents lodged with McKillen Jnr’s Oakmount planning application state that once the project is operational, it will employ 160 jobs and that is to follow 200 construction workers being employed during the 18 month long construction phase.

Th Council has refused planning permission after a ‘wave’ of opposition against the plan with over 90 parties lodging objections.

Those calling for the scheme to be rejected included former RTÉ broadcaster Valerie Cox and retired missionary nun Sr Kathleen Melia of the nearby Missionary Sisters of St Columban at Magheramore.

In her objection, Sr Kathleen had described Creative Pacific Ltd’s ‘grandiose plan’ as “the height of folly”.

Now, in its rejection of the project, the Council ruled that the project “would set an undesirable precedent for similar type development in this sensitive landscape, would appear visually out of character with the coast and would interfere with the environmental quality and amenities” of the coastal area.

The council also refused planning permission after concluding that given the site’s proximity to the Magherabeg Dunes Special Area of Conservation (SAC), insufficient evidence has been submitted to demonstrate beyond reasonable scientific doubt that the proposed development would not adversely affect the integrity of the of the Magherabeg Dunes SAC.

The planning authority refused planning permission after concluding that the Ecological Impact Assessment carried out has failed to demonstrate that the proposed development would not have a significant impact on locally important natural habitats, species or wildlife corridors.

The Council also refused planning permission after finding the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of serious traffic hazard because inadequate information has been submitted to show that sight line distances can be achieved in accordance with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) standards.

Planning permission was also refused after the Council found that insufficient information has been submitted to establish that the likelihood of erosion at the specific location is minimal, concluding that the granting of permission would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Making a personal submission as one of the volunteer gardeners at the 15 in-patient bed Wicklow Hospice at Magheramore, Valerie Cox told the council that “the location of this proposed resort, directly across the road from the Hospice, would be a travesty of all the reasons the Hospice was built there – tranquility, peace, easy access and end of life comfort”.

The Arklow resident said: “A bustling resort incorporating the facilities in the application would destroy the ambiance of the Hospice.”

Cox stated: “It is vital that our planners respect the reality and the humanity of palliative care when families are going through a very difficult time. The imposition of a noisy, busy resort just yards away would negate all the thinking behind building the hospice there, also the 10 years the local community spent fundraising to build it.”

She added: “Sometimes there are ethical choices to be made between the politics of profit and the most vulnerable people in our society. This is one of those times.”

The opposition against the tourism development included objections from two local TDs, Stephen Matthews (Green Party) and John Brady (SF).

Deputy Matthews told the Council that due to the potential negative impacts on Magherabeg Dunes SAC and, the proposed development should be refused planning permission.

Deputy Brady told the planning authority that the proposed scheme “is a totally unsatisfactory planning application that if granted will have a negative impact on Magherabeg Dunes SAC which is an ecologically sensitive area”.

A planning report lodged by Manahan Planners on behalf of the applicants stated that “the project vision is to create a beautiful, world class destination for people to enjoy within a wonderful setting”.

The planning report stated that the architectural design “is respectful of its location” and the architects have produced a building “that will successfully contribute to its environment”.

The report stated that “the proposal will not alter the existing public access to the beach. It will remain as today on foot by way of the existing nuns walkway”.

Manahan Planners stated that the proposed development “would provide a new type of sustainable tourist accommodation facility for Wicklow County and be a source of long term local employment which will have a positive long term economic and social impact on the local and regional area”.

The planning refusal comes after a large film set resembling an elaborate house was investigated for not having planning permission in August 2022. 

Wicklow County Council undertook a planning enforcement probe after receiving written complaints from members of the public about the striking structure at Magheramore, which is being built on land owned by McKillen Jr.

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