Hayes is president of Environmental Trust Ireland and former chair of An Taisce Limerick, and said: “The destruction of the 18th century Georgian building, Curragower House, would be a complete travesty and present an enormous loss to the historic, visual, cultural and architectural heritage of Limerick City and County. Once gone, it’s gone forever”.
An Bord Pleanála (APB), in its decision, referred to the fact that Curragower House is not a protected structure.
Michelle Hayes said that she had called on Limerick City and County Council in April 2019 to list Curragower House.
The planning authority’s ruling says that the proposed development “would not seriously injure the visual amenities of the area or the amenity of property in the vicinity, would not adversely affect the character of the protected structure adjoining the site, would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety, and would constitute an acceptable form of development on these zoned lands”.
A planning inspector had previously decided to refuse permission on the grounds that the proposed development was “incongruous … because of siting, scale and bulk”.
The inspector’s report continued: “I would have serious concerns regarding the demolition … the demolition of an existing historic dwelling Curragower House, which contributes to the architectural character of the area, would fail to have regard for the intrinsic historic character of Clancy’s Strand.”
This assessment was overturned by An Bord Pleanála on foot on an examination of the file, including submissions from third parties and observers.
The board concluded that the existing building on site, which is not a protected structure, presents issues of structural and functional challenge.
Its decision says that its replacement with a “well-conceived design solution providing for new residential accommodation and café unit would constitute an appropriate and sustainable use of the zoned subject site”.
The decision states that the new-build “will not adversely affect a defined character for this area, but will complement the current varied built form with a high-quality modern design and layout”.
Appellants and observers may yet pursue a judicial review - Michelle Hayes has urged An Taisce Limerick to continue the work she started.
“Curragower House is still standing – let’s keep it that way,” she said.
Speaking to Gazette.ie, she said she was heartened and encouraged in her battle to save Curragower House by the public support for its retention.
“This building is clearly cherished by the people of Limerick, who have taken this historic and architectural gem to their hearts,” she concluded.