Developer to reapply for planning permission for housing project

by Louise Doyle

A PROMINENT developer is to re-lodge plans for planning permission for a major housing development in Letterkenny turned down by An Bord Pleanála.

Applicant PJ McDermott lodged plans to build almost 300 houses and apartments at Glencar Irish and Glencar Scotch in Letterkenny.


The proposed development comprised two phases, with the first phase consisting of 90 residential units and a créche.

The second phase comprised 188 residential units, consisting of 160 houses 28 apartments.

While granted conditional go-ahead by Donegal County Council, an appeal was lodged by the Old Glencar Road, Solomon’s Grove and Upper Fernhill Residents’ Associations against this decision.

In their objection, they argued that the present infrastructure was not designed to deal with the current flow of traffic, and would face further strain and additional volume.

Prior to the submission of the planning application, the developer Mr. PJ McDermott, engaged with Donegal County Council, under the Large-scale Residential Development (LRD) provisions in the Planning and Development (Amendment) (Large-scale Residential Development) Act 2021.

Arising from the LRD pre-planning meetings and following a comprehensive and detailed examination of the proposed development, Donegal County Council issued an LRD Opinion, setting out its requirements for the development.

These requirements formed the basis for and were incorporated into the planning application, which was subsequently approved by the Council.


The decision to grant permission was the subject of 1st party and 3rd party appeals to An Bord Pleanala (the Board). By its decision dated June 11, 2024, the Board refused planning permission for the development for two reasons.

The Board considered that the density of development (16-23 dwellings per hectare-dph) fell significantly short of applying the applicable range of 35-50dph envisaged in the Compact Settlement Guidelines 2024.

In addition, the Board considered the design and layout of the scheme did not comply with the design guidance of those same Guidelines.

While initially disappointed with the decision, Mr McDermott said he has been “greatly encouraged” by the Board’s and its Planning Inspector’s rationale, which underpinned the decision and has instructed his Design Team to amend the development to reflect the Board’s recommendations.

The developer confirmed he has now instructed his design team to amend the development to reflect the board’s recommendations.

Essentially the Board, confirming its Planning Inspector’s assessment, considered that “proposed density is unacceptably low and would not meet the local, regional, and national policy aims to achieve compact growth on this strategic residential landbank within a designated Regional Growth Centre”.

It also outlined: “Rather than replicating the recent pattern of low-density suburban housing, …..the appeal site and adjoining lands are of such a scale and significance that necessitates the definition of a new character with increased density in accordance with the provisions of the Compact Settlement Guidelines.”

The Board also cited shortcomings in the design and layout of the scheme, noting it “did not consider that the development would make an acceptable contribution in terms of quality urban design and placemaking”.

The low density and the design/layout issues, forming the reasons for refusal were approved by Donegal County Council in its LRD Opinion presented to the developer.

Mr McDermott said these issues will now be addressed in a new planning application. The devleoper has said he is confident that the Boards’s concerns about these matters will be resolved, which, he believes, will “pave the way for the development to proceed in the near future”

He said: “It is notable that the board in reaching its decision, dismissed all of the third party points of objection, which ranged from the magnitude of the development, traffic congestion/hazard, adverse impacts on residential amenities and the preservation of wildlife and ecology.”

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