An Bord Pleanala have today released a split decision on the appeal by An Taisce and others against North Tipperary County Council’s decision to grant permission to Richard Quirke for a number of elements of the proposed “Tipperary Venue” development near Two Mile Boris, 11km from Thurles.

The Board granted permission for the all weather horse racing track, dog racing track, 500 bed hotel and casino but refused permission for the main part of the project; the 15,000 person multipurpose event venue.

The report of the An Bord Pleanala Inspector who conducted the oral hearing on the project earlier this year recommended refusal of the entire development on the basis that it would contravene the National Spatial Strategy and the Mid West Regional Planning Guidelines, and would be unsustainably car dependent. Refusal was also recommended on grounds of inadequate slip road access from the M8 motorway and lack of archaeological assessment of the major part of the site.

The An Bord Pleanala Inspector’s report set out as the overriding grounds of refusal: “Having regard to the scale of the proposed development stated to be of regional and national importance, and notwithstanding the policy ECON2 pertaining to Strategic Employment set out in the current development plan for the area, it is considered that such a major facility should be located within or in close proximity to a designated gateway as identified in the National Spatial Strategy so as to assist in its consolidation and expansion in accordance with NSS policy and in order to avail of a range of public transport options and full access to supporting facilities. Having regard to the location of the site outside any designated urban area, remote from public transport infrastructure and other complementary facilities, it is considered that the proposed development in this location would lack ancillary supporting services and would be reliant primarily on private transport. Accordingly, it is considered that the proposed development would be inappropriately located, would contravene the policies as set out in the National Spatial Strategy and would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”

Charles Stanley-Smith, Chair of the environmental charity, stated that “The An Bord Pleanala split decision contravenes the National Spatial Strategy policy of locating new development in existing designated regional centres, and national climate and transport policy in curtailing car based development. We believe that the Board’s reasons for refusing the 15,000 seater Venue are equally applicable to the 500 bedroom 5 star hotel and Casino”.

He further stated that “The Irish Hotel Federation have published a report highlighting an excess capacity of 15,000 hotel bedrooms nationally and the decision exacerbates the spectre of ghost developments. Once more this is evidence of Short term expediency and Developer Led planning overriding National Spatial Plan and Regional Planning Guidelines”

In disregarding the Inspectors overall refusal recommendation An Bord Pleanala have failed to meet the requirements under EU law for evaluating projects under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. In particular the issues of event capacity and traffic management are left unresolved.

For further comment or clarification contact: Charles Stanley-Smith, Chair of An Taisce, 087 2411995 Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce, 01 454 1786