*Photograph: Páraic McMahon. 

“DEMOLITION” works on a row of cottages at Francis Street in Ennis have been described as “premature” by local elected representatives.

Clare County Council in October 2022 acquired a block of six cottages on Francis Street in Ennis. Initially the Council had intended knocking the cottages to build a temporary car park at a fee estimated to be €1.1m.

Plans were since scrapped and 39 apartments will be built in what is set to be the county’s first affordable housing scheme.

Clare County Council applied for a Section 179 planning exemption which enabled the granting of planning permission without any submissions from the public or elected representatives.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) claimed that demolition works had commenced “without planning permission”. He said the loss of car parking spaces and the footpath at one side of the street was “premature”. He added, “I’d have expected a Section 38 process to be followed for the loss of those car spaces, the review could go on for longer”.

Flynn continued, “it is an extremely busy road from the town to Tesco, I was very disappointed to see hasty work over the weekend and I ask that it be reconsidered”.

According to Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF), “Francis Street seems to me a very rushed scenario to get works done at a very speedy manner. We’re all concerned with the shortage of housing but it was also flagged at an early stage where I’d like to have seen a smaller development proposed for people with disabilities or the elderly”.

Director of Services, Carmel Kirby assured members that the correct process has been followed by Clare County Council. “The affordable housing scheme needs to be completed by the end of 2025, it was always planned we’d carry out the works as quickly as possible”.

On Monday, the High Court was notified of a judicial review on the application, Director Kirby stated.

In response, Cllr Flynn highlighted, “normal practice is works don’t proceed until there is a decision on a legal case”. Kirby stated that enabling works started before Monday and legal advice has yet to be received following the High Court hearing.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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