A premises owned by Donegal County Councillor John O’Donnell which is being developed to house refugees is not in breach of planning regulations Donegal County Council has declared.
The council had opened a case into planning at the building was formerly the Village Court bar in Kilmacrennan.
It followed a complaint from an unknown member of the public that there had been an alleged unauthorised change of use of a former hotel to accommodation.
“A case has been opened and is currently being investigated,” a council spokesperson confirmed to Donegal Daily yesterday.
However, following an inspection of the premises by executive planner with Donegal County Council, Simon Harron, it was deemed that no planning “offence” took place at the premises.
Mr Harron revealed the details of his meeting with developer Mr O’Donnell in the details of the planning decision.
He outlined “During my site inspection, I met with the developer John O’Donnell, who showed me around the entirety of the building which comprises of a former hotel and ground floor bar, which was up until recently vacant and derelict.
“During my inspection I noted that the works comprised of internal refurbishment works (exempt development). The former bar area was vacant and unoccupied. The building comprises of a number of private locked bedrooms, external balcony on the first floor, external stairwell along the northern gable elevation, ground floor kitchen and communal area, toilets, plant room, corridors, and private enclosed outdoor walled space for bin storage etc.
“The former hotel is currently occupied by migrant refugees, on a temporary basis, in line with the government rehousing scheme.”
Mr Harron added that the the building has been inspected by the developer’s architect and the Fire Safety Officer.
He also outlined the specific planning and development regulations relating to the building.
Planning & Development Regulations 2001 (As amended)
Class 14 Change of Use (Exempt Development) Development consisting of a change
(h) from use as a hotel, motel, hostel, guesthouse, holiday accommodation, convent, monastery, Defence Forces barracks or other premises or
residential institution providing overnight accommodation, or part thereof, or from the change of use specified in paragraph (i) of the said premises or institution, or part thereof, to use as accommodation for protected persons,
(i) from use as a hotel, motel, hostel, guesthouse, holiday accommodation, convent, monastery, Defence Forces barracks or other premises or residential institution providing overnight accommodation, or part thereof, or from the change of use specified in paragraph (h) of the said premises or institution, or part thereof, to use as an emergency reception and orientation centre for protected persons, and
On the basis of the above site inspection and having regard to the provisions of the Planning & Development Regulations (as stated above), it is considered that the refurbishment works are exempt and the current use is exempt.
Mr Harron added “It is deemed that an offence has not taken place in this instance.
“Having regard to the above and in accordance with the provisions of Section 152(2) of the Planning & Development Act 2000 (As amended) it is recommended that formal enforcement action does not proceed and that all parties are advised accordingly.”