Calls for HSE to pay bill for footpath outside respite house in Tullow amidst 'planning anomaly'

The respite house will provide respite beds on the Castledermot Road in Tullow

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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Concerns have been expressed over Carlow County Council footing the bill for a footpath outside a new respite house in Tullow - which will be used for children with disabilities - as councillors say the HSE should be paying for the infrastructural works. 

The facility will provide respite beds on the Castledermot Road in Tullow at the former Delaney House building and was purchased early last year by the HSE but will be run by Enable Ireland.

However, the HSE did not pay development levies for the property which Cllr Will Paton said was due to an "anomaly is in Irish planning law" and thus the Council could be called on to find the funds for a footpath, pedestrian crossing and public lighting.

Development levies are imposed by local authorities as a condition of planning permission for the cost of providing special services, such as a new roads or footpaths. 

It is estimated the works at Delaney House could cost between €20,000 and €50,000.

Speaking at this month's meeting of Carlow Municipal District, Cllr John Pender said Enable Ireland had contacted him about their concerns "with safety at the property". 

He asked if there was a provision for a footpath in the planning process as a number of wheelchair users would be availing of the facility and there are safety concerns. 

Last month, the HSE said it was "unaware of any delays" with the respite facility project in Tullow and the project is on track to be ready this year. 

Cllr Paton - who admitted that he is delighted to see the facility being set up and it is badly needed - said: "There was no change of use in the property and so it was exempt and no development levies were charged to the HSE.

"The cost to Carlow County Council for a public footpath, lighting and a pedestrian crossing could be between €20,000 and €50,000.

"We desparately want the property but the Council shouldn't get hit with the bill. It couldn't be right. The problem is with Irish planning law."

Director of Services, Bernie O'Brien, said the planning permission was for established use and the parties knew the location of the property and that it was "outside the town boundary". 

"Planning had to consider it in the context of planning law," she added. 

Cllr Paton: "There is an anomaly which allows an exempt case to be free of development levies. That's got to be completely wrong that this Council has to collect the bill to pay for this, a massive bill not of our own making."

Senior Executive Officer, Eamonn Brophy, said there was no onus on the Council to provide the lighting or the footpath. 

Cllr Paton added that it would be in all the media then about people in danger of getting knocked down on a dangerous stretch of road.

Cllr John Cassin said the "right thing to do here is build the footpath if it's needed". 

Cllr Pender added that they had a "duty of care to the residents" and he proposed that the Council meet with the HSE to "knock heads together" and come up with a solution.

The proposal was seconded by Cllr Paton to see if an agreement can be reached. 

Enable Ireland will manage the respite house and they propose to offer a range of services to children in Carlow and Kilkenny.  

These services include weekend residential respite, day respite, after school support and respite supports for unforeseen circumstances. Enable Ireland will be contacting families in the coming weeks to advise them on these services.