Planning committee to rule on Tyrella eco-pods

Planning committee to rule on Tyrella eco-pods

7 February 2024

NEWRY, Mourne and Down Council’s Planning Committee will this morning be asked to rubber-stamp a planners’ recommendation to refuse permission for a proposed eco pod glamping site near Tyrella beach. 

Approval was being sought for the pods, an amenity room, car parks and site works on land at the Clanmaghery Road.

Eco pods are sustainable wooden and glass houses and are an increasingly popular choice for tourists on glamping holidays.

The planners’ refusal recommendation will be discussed after committee members have heard from parties in favour and opposed to the application.

Planners have received 47 objections to the proposal which they argue is contrary to planning policy and that the proposed development is not located in an area that can absorb it “without adverse impact on visual amenity and rural character”.

They say the location, layout and landscaping are not based on an overall design concept that respects the surrounding landscape and rural character and the site relies on new planting for integration.

In addition, planners say the proposal is unable to provide a suitable degree of enclosure for the buildings to to integrate into the landscape and is considered to be a prominent feature.

Planners argue the new buildings would rely primarily on the use of new landscaping for integration  into the landscape and result in a “detrimental impact on rural character in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

In addition, they say the proposed development would impact on a relatively unspoilt area with the rural and remote setting impacted by the “introduction of a new holiday park of this nature at this location”.

In papers published ahead of this morning’s meeting, planners confirm that there are no objections from key consultees to the proposal including the Environment Agency, Department for Infrastructure Roads and the local council’s Environmental Health Department.

Objectors believe the proposal would “fundamentally change” the character of the area and “destroy the the rural peaceful and unspoilt nature of the site”.

They also fear the proposed works will be of a much greater scale than what is proposed as it is “most likely to expand to provide services like a shop and believe there will be a potential impact on shingle beds at the Rathmullan and Ringsallin ends of Tyrella beach and protected species and nesting birds.

In addition, objectors believe the plans are not clear and are “ambiguous” and there has been no clarifications following a previous plan.

Objectors fear the proposal will encourage increased, unregulated access to the beach and will encourage trespassing as there is no public path to the shore which will result in people travelling over lands not owned by the applicant as it is the most direct route to the shore.

They have also believe an environmental impact assessment should be carried out and that the submitted biodiversity checklist is “inaccurate” and only provides a one day snapshot of what is happening and does not take into account breeding cycles.

Concern has also been expressed about the loss of privacy due to the introduction of security cameras, with some concerned the proposed development site can only be accessed by car and there are no amenities adjacent, therefore visitors will have to travel by car for food and entertainment.

Planning agents for the applicants say permission is being sought for “three modest eco-pods” in a rural area that has already experienced a range of developments.

O’Callaghan Planning say the couple would have been happy to revise the layout and are amenable to compromise, notwithstanding the fact the site lies in a large field in which there is an abundance of space that could be utilised for recreation.

Planners claims the eco-pods are “akin to mobile homes” but the planning agent said they are in fact half the size of these structures and the applicants would have been prepared to reduce their scale further if afforded the opportunity.

In addition, the planning agents say the proposed pods are designed to be disabled-user-friendly and there are no other disabled friendly sites in the area, with the pods “better suited” than the traditional mobile home/trailer park at nearby Minerstown.

The agents continue: “Planning officers feel the proposal will be prominent in the area. However, they make no mention of the fact the development site lies in a hollow in the terrain, or then ground rises up to a crest on the coastline.”

They say it does not offend planning policy on the grounds of prominence, with views when travelling along the Clanmaghery Road described as “fleeting” from a moving vehicle.

The planning agents say the applicants have gone to significant expense in submitting ecological reports and additional information and went above and beyond the need to demonstrate to objectors “there was nothing scientifically wrong with the application”.

In addition,  the agents say the fact there have been so many objections is countered by the fact that no consultees have any objections despite the site’s environmentally sensitive location.