Conservation Castletown, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

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Castletown House, Co. Kildare
Castletown House, Co. Kildare (photo: Anne Brady, Vermillion)

Planning Department

Kildare County Council

Áras Chill Dara

Devoy Park, Naas

Co Kildare W91 X77F

20th February 2024

Re. Retention Permission for an existing surface car park of 149 no. car spaces and all ancillary development and works permitted under Kildare County Council Reg. Ref 08/975 and Ref. Ref 14/678. Castletown Demesne, Co. Kildare

Ref. 24/17

To whom it may concern,

This planning application proposes the further development of an existing temporary car park within the Castletown demesne through widening the access road, providing a 1.5m wide footpath, laying a new macadam surface, installing new vehicular and pedestrian gates, placing new lighting in the car park and along the access road, and erecting a 1.4m high fence with associated landscaping and ancillary works. While accepting the need for the car park to provide vehicular access to Castletown House and Demesne, the Irish Georgian Society is strongly of the view that the scale of the development as described would not be consistent with the temporary nature of the five-year term requested.

It is observed that in applying for retention of a car park on the site in 2008, the Office of Public Works emphasised the temporary nature of the facility and that any long-term planning would be undertaken in the context of an overall strategy for Castletown House and Demesne. Attention is drawn to the following comments:

It is important to note that the carpark for which retention permission is being sought is temporary in nature. There are strategic plans for Castletown and its demesne which will include car parking which would be submitted in future. (Gaffney & Cullivan, 23rd Jan 2009, planning ref. 08/975)

In summary, it is my opinion that the situation of the car park is well chosen. As the car park is of a temporary nature, I do not recommend any upgrade of its fabric in the immediate term or any changes to its boundaries. (Conservation Assessment, 2008 (Dr John Olley, UCD School of Architecture))

The temporary nature of the car park as well as the need for an overall strategy for Castletown was further emphasised by Kildare County Council when granting permission in 2014 for its use over a further five years. In that instance, the Council determined the following:

Since the car park is temporary in nature, is within the curtilage of a protected structures and since the applicant has strategies in place to facilitate [a] more permanent facility it is reasonable that a temporary permission only be given. (Schedule 2, condition 2)

In considering the scale of the new ‘temporary’ works set out in the current planning application, the Irish Georgian Society wishes to highlight the following provisions of the Celbridge Local Area Plan 2017-23:

Policy HLA1- Historic Landscapes Areas: It is the policy of the Council to preserve the special landscape character of historic landscapes within Celbridge as set out on Map 13.1 Land Use Zoning.

Objective HLAO1.1: To protect the special landscape character of historic landscape areas and ensure that new development enhances the special character and visual setting of the historic landscapes outlined on Map 13.17 and to prevent development that would have a negative impact on the character of the lands within the Historic Landscape Areas.

Despite the impact of the proposed works, it is noted that an historic landscape impact assessment undertaken by a suitably qualified expert has not been prepared, and that, aside from this, little or no consideration is given to the impact of the works on Castletown’s historic landscape. This alone, should provide reason to pause any further consideration of this planning application.

Of greater relevance is that the development is being proposed without the essential guidance of a strategy for Castletown Demesne as envisaged in the planning applications submitted in 2008 and 2014. Given that the works will essentially give permanency to what is supposed to be a ‘temporary’ car park, the Irish Georgian Society is of the view that this planning application is premature and, as such, permission should not be granted for it.

Castletown House and its historic designed landscape comprise one of Ireland’s greatest heritage sites and one that is of international importance. This must ensure that the very highest standards are set in undertaking any works that will affect its character. While the Irish Georgian Society is not averse to locating a car park on the site in question, it strongly objects to the works being undertaken as proposed.

Yours sincerely,

Donough Cahill
Executive Director IGS