CHANGES TO a €300 million Greystones harbour redevelopment in Co Wicklow have been referred to An Bord Pleanála.
The changes proposed by Wicklow County Council and its private sector partner, Sispar consortium, would see the number of new homes in the scheme increase to 375, while the commercial space in the development would rise to 6,245sq m.
The original permission by An Bord Pleanála in August 2007 provided for 341 apartments and 5,500sq m of commercial space.
Sispar has said the additional apartments and commercial space are necessary given changed market conditions.
Sispar has invested more than €80 million in the project so far, principally in a new harbour which includes space for a 230-berth marina.
Other public facilities include new clubhouses for existing harbour users, a new town square, a public park and a beach.
Sispar, which has confirmed loans associated with the project have been transferred to Nama, said it planned to complete the project if the changes were approved.
Work on the next phase is scheduled to get under way early next year. Hoardings which have been in place for almost three years could start to come down late next year.
Earlier this year, the council approved a change in the scheme under which a block of apartments was altered to include a medical centre.
The change was made under part eight of the Planning and Development Act which provides for public consultation but does not provide for an appeal.
Yesterday councillors approved by 13 votes to four a second change in the scheme under which the additional houses and alterations to the commercial space would be made.
The latest changes were also made under part eight of the planning Act which provides for public consultation but does not provide for an appeal process.
Part eight is a section frequently used by local authorities when they are seeking planning permission for developments that do not require an environmental impact assessment.
However, council spokesman Seán Quirke said the use of the part eight process on this occasion had already been referred to An Bord Pleanála by “two individuals” who made submissions during the public consultation process.
Mr Quirke said An Bord Pleanála would now have to adjudicate on whether the use of part eight by the council was appropriate.
Fine Gael councillor Derek Mitchell, who has been closely associated with the project, said yesterday he believed the use of part eight was justified.
Mr Mitchell, who signed the original contracts on behalf of the council, said the important thing now was that the scheme would not stop.
He said the change from apartments to medical centre would have support from Nama and would assist in ongoing financing of the project.