Christian community housing plan in Clare encounters problem

A BID to create housing for older members of a religious community in Tuamgraney encountered a problem, with planners seeking more details on a number of aspects of the project, writes Fiona McGarry.

At the end of June, the Christian community applied to update their existing facilities in Drewsborough and create 12 new accommodation units.

While the planners had initially indicated that an August decision date was possible, they have now requested detailed Supplementary Information (FI) on several aspects of the proposals.

According to a design statement submitted with the application, the existing Christian community center consists of a chapel, priest’s house, visitor accommodation, therapy rooms and associated services.

The proposed project would involve the demolition of part of an existing building, the extension of an existing chapel and the creation of an accommodation block.

Regarding the physical design, the request noted that “the heart of the design revolves around the community and it is proposed that an outdoor community space becomes the heart of the building layout”.

He indicated that the mature trees on the site will be maintained and that, in order to maximize the use of the existing buildings, activities that are not 24/7 will be redirected to these, while the accommodation element will go in a new unit.

The app noted that the Christian community was able to secure a site south of its existing center, opening up opportunities to deal with the issues of upgrading existing facilities and housing for the elderly.

After assessing the request, the planners wrote to the organization with an FI request.

In their letter, the planners said that given the zoning for “existing residential” and the number of accommodation units on offer, they need more clarity on whether or not the development is exempt from the legislation on land. social and affordable housing.

The planners also asked for details on the management and ownership structure of the proposed apartments and whether they will be rented to church members or sold individually.
Concerns were also expressed that the design might not fit into the traditional setting of the village and a full design statement was requested. The planners also called for an assessment of traffic and transport.

The IF letter of request also notes that cremated remains were interred behind the existing dwelling on the site and requests clarification on any future burial activity.

The planners suggested that applicants might consider a columbarium wall. A landscaping plan and a fire evacuation plan were also requested.

There are two submissions on the planning file from neighbors in the region. A letter in support of the development was submitted by Niamh Ruiséal and Mark Connolly, the owners of a house south of the Christian Community Center.

They told the planners that they had been consulted on the proposed housing design and the chapel extension and “are happy to see this kind of proposal for the community.”

A submission from Derek and Teresa Browne opposed the request, fearing the request did not clarify the full scope of the project.

“Describing the 12 no. apartments as an accommodation block lack sufficient clarity, ”said the submission.

“One might assume that an accommodation block could include a small residential unit for the priest or the parish officials.

“Twelve two-bedroom apartments in a very substantial two-story block are not an apartment building. It is a block of apartments. So why not call a spade a spade.

Concerns have also been raised about an increase in traffic on an already busy road.

The submission concluded by saying that while the idea of ​​providing for the needs of the elderly is “noble”, the design is “incongruous and incompatible” with the existing development model in Tuamgraney.

On its website (, The Christian Community, a registered charity, describes itself as a ‘religious revival movement’, which was founded in Europe in the years after WWI and arrived in Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s.

Green Senator Róisín Garvey is appointed as the development representative, as is Senator Timmy Dooley.

Applicants have six months from August 23 to return the requested information to County Clare Council.

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