D55 Zoning

1.0     Introduction

1.1     On behalf of Mr John Ryan, Pembroke Hotel, Patrick Street, Kilkenny, we wish to make the following observations to the Kilkenny Draft City Development Plan Review 2013. 

2.0     Site Description

2.1     The site is located on the north side of Jacob Street, a traffic link road about 300 metres south of High Street. The most recent permitted use of the site was as a builder’s yard. It is irregular in shape, with an area of 1260 square metres. On its south side, the site has a frontage of 45.124 metres onto Jacob Street. It extends back by distances varying from 16.13 metres to 52.918 metres up to the rear of premises on Ormonde Road. The site is level. It is currently in use as a private surface car park for patrons of the Pembroke Hotel. The site is surfaced with tarmac/tar and chip. There is a double inward opening gate at the eastern end of the road frontage, followed by a lifting barrier which gives access to the car park. A larger gate further west along the road frontage is not in regular use.

3.0     Planning History

3.1       A five year temporary permission was sought for the retention of the ancillary hotel surface car park and associated signage, lighting, control barrier and ancillary site development works. On 19th February 2013, Kilkenny Borough Council decided to grant permission for this development, subject to three conditions.

3.2       Condition 2 of the planning authority’s decision restricted the permission to a temporary period of 5 years only. The reason for this condition was that it was considered that the use of the site as a car park was reasonable in the short term, but a more efficient use of the site was desirable in the long term.

3.3       Condition 3 of the planning authority’s decision requires that the car park should not be used as a fee paying public car park where patrons are charged.

3.4       This decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanala by Q Park, operators of the Ormonde Multi Storey car park.  The Board refused permission in July 2013 for the following reason;

The development proposed to be retained is located on a suburban street that is otherwise characterised by residential development, and which is zoned residential under the Kilkenny City and Environs Development Plan 2008 - 2014. Having regard to its nature, it is considered that a surface car park would constitute an undesirable use in a town centre location and a residentially zoned area, and furthermore, its retention would conflict with the timely redevelopment of this brownfield site for a more appropriate use. The development proposed to be retained would, accordingly, contravene the residential zoning objective for this site, and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area. (ABP Reg. Ref. 241739 Order)

4.0       Submission

4.1       It is evident from the Board’s decision that the primary two issues of concern were firstly, the assertion that the temporary car park contravened the residential zoning objective for the site and secondly, a car park would preclude the development of the site for a more appropriate land use.  In dealing with the latter issue, our clients recognise that the subject site has future development potential and for that reason only sought a temporary change of use.  Prevailing market and economic conditions will not justify a viable alternative use of the site in the short to medium term.  The Planning authority also acknowledged this by reference to condition 2 of the notification to grant which noted that “a more efficient use of the site was desirable in the long term”.

4.2       In arriving at their decision the Board relied on some of the assertions of their Inspector.  The Inspector attached significance to the fact that car parks were not listed as a permissible use under the residential zoning objective.  Furthermore he was dismissive of the Council’s interpretation of uses that are not listed under the zoning categories;

“I do not consider that the statement at section 9.3 of the development plan that “ the schedule of permitted uses is intended as a guideline in assessing development proposals and should not be regarded as being exhaustive” can be interpreted in the manner given in the Planning Authority’s planner’s report or as proposed by the applicant, i.e. effectively as a general escape clause allowing the planning authority to grant any use which is neither in the permitted or open for consideration category as it sees fit”  (ABP Inspectors Report Reg. Ref. 241739, p. 11)

4.3       In the Council’s assessment of the previous application, it is stated that having regard “to the variety of commercial and civic uses nearby, to the modest size of the car park and the nature and volume of hotel traffic associated with it, I am satisfied that the proposed use would not be injurious to the residential  amenities of the area and as such is not precluded by the zoning objective for the  area” [1]

4.4       We argued that the Development Plan does not identify uses in the zoning categories that are considered non permissible, and that ancillary car parks ought to be considered permitted in principle in residential zones, given that most uses will have an ancillary parking component.  The Development Plan notes a number of uses including, “Bed & Breakfast establishments, guesthouses, convenience shop, community facilities, nursing homes, medical centres” which are all considered permissible under the residential zoning objective.  Evidently anyone of these uses would need to make provision for associated car parking and consequently we argued that ancillary parking should be deemed acceptable within the residential zoning.  In addition under Paragraph 9.3.3, P. 140 of the existing Development Plan states that, “Public Houses, hotels and restaurants” are all considered uses that are open for consideration in a residential zone.  Notwithstanding these arguments the Board concluded that a car park, albeit temporary, was still non compliant with the residential zoning.

4.5       As a consequence of this decision, we submit that it will be necessary to secure some amendments to the Draft Development Plan objectives in order to address the Board’s concerns.  It is our view that the most prudent option would be to rezone the site and surrounding block to either, ‘General Business’ use or ‘Mixed Use’.  Both of these land use zoning designations list car parks as a permissible use.

4.6       Whilst the site is currently zoned residential, it is immediately adjoined by the General Business zoning to the south.  The former use of the site was as a builder’s yard and storage facility and consequently notwithstanding prevailing zoning objectives, the site has been used for commercial activity for over 50 years.  We also note that the bulk of surrounding land uses are non residential in nature.  This includes the conversion of two residential buildings to office use immediately north of the site facing Ormonde Street in addition to the School of Music, adjoining garage premises and a public house also to the north of the site.  To the east of the site, along Patrick Street, is a 3,000sqft recently constructed retail unit and to the west of the site is a former shop.  We have illustrated the extent of non residential uses on the adjoining land use plan. 

4.7       Consequently the relevance of continuing with the residential zoning, given the prevailing lands uses, must be queried.  A General Business or Mixed Use zoning would in fact more accurately reflect the bulk of existing and permitted uses.  In addition the long term redevelopment of the site is unlikely to be for residential uses solely.  It should also be noted that there are two existing residential properties on the south east of this block, located at a pivotal arterial approach to the City, which currently detract from the visual amenities of this approach.  There would be merit in the entire re-development of this quadrant of the block at some point in the future, in tandem with the adjoining lands for a landmark mixed use feature building.  A change from the residential zoning would create a more conducive planning policy framework for this to proceed.    

4.8       The Pembroke Hotel still urgently requires enhanced ancillary parking provision.  We note that under the provision of the Draft Development Plan, a hotel development of this scale would be required to provide in the order of 140 spaces and provision of this additional parking is consistent with that.

4.9       The Jacob Street site is located a similar distance than the Ormonde street car park, but is more accessible particularly with the current traffic difficulties, pending the completion of the CAS.  There are no suitable viable or available sites located any closer to the hotel premises which could be utilised for ancillary parking.

4.10     The ancillary car parking at Jacob Street is required to cater for peak demands.  It is imperative that sufficient spaces are available for patrons in proximity to the hotel in order to ensure the viability of the business.  It also maximises the opportunities for patrons to undertake subsequent movements throughout the City on foot, by ensuring ancillary parking is available close to the hotel premises.  In recent years the hours of opening of the Ormonde St. car park have been curtailed.  Whereas previously it operated on a 24 hour basis, it now closes at midnight.  Given the operational requirements of a hotel business, it is imperative there is sufficient 24 hour parking provision available to patrons.  We note the Board’s Inspector’s commented that the Ormonde car park was open 24 hours four days a week, this is incorrect it closes every night.

4.11     Under the new management of the Pembroke Hotel it has been taken from 3 to 4 Star and it continues to improve its offer, currently being the hotel recommended by several advisors and in the top 25 in Leinster. The owners are committed to continuous improvement and in the long-term, will provide valet parking.

4.12     The Draft Plan needs to acknowledge that transient or interim uses are much more prevalent in the current economic climate and whilst temporary uses may not equate to the optimum use of the site, consideration needs to be given to such uses, in particular where they do not impact on surrounding amenities, but provide some level of usage of a site pending the viability of more long term development options.  We would suggest an objective be inserted to the Plan as follows:

“The Council note that with prevailing economic conditions, it is likely that permission will be sought on sites for the temporary use of land.  The Council will generally support the interim use of sites for temporary activities, subject to demonstrating that there will not be any detrimental impact on adjoining amenities, until such a time as more efficient use of the site becomes viable.”


5.0     Conclusion

5.1       We acknowledge that the Council have previously supported an ancillary car park on this site and this use remains a key operational requirement for the Pembroke Hotel.  In order therefore to secure its regularisation, the landowners intend to submit a revised application for a temporary car park.  Given the Board’s recent determination however, the success of a revised application will require a review of the site zoning, which will allow for car parking uses.  In this regard a change of zoning from Residential to General Business or Mixed Use would be most appropriate, which will also reflect other prevailing adjoining land uses and maximise the potential for the future development of the site.  At a minimum the Draft Plan should also identify car parking as a permissible use in residential zones and also acknowledge the potential for the temporary use of sites such as this, pending longer term objectives which are contingent upon economic and market improvements.

[1] KBC Planning Assessment March 2012, P.2


First Name: 
Last Name: 
Ryan, Pembroke Hotel
Name of Organisation or Group: 
Cunnane Stratton Reynolds
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