I asked the planning department about whether there had been an extension to the time allowed for closure of the Donich Circular path. It had been a condition of the original planning permission that it would only be closed for three months (and this time period has now expired) unless application was made for an extension. The response was received promptly as below – it is rather a shame that we needed to ask rather than the community being proactively informed about it.
Through negotiation as part of the process of discharging the conditions of planning permission, it was agreed with Hydroplan that the footpath (in grey on the attached plan) would be closed for 6 months rather than 3 months (as stated in condition 3). The terms of condition 3 allows for some flexibility; specifically “unless as may otherwise be agreed in writing with the Planning Authority.” This flexibility is applied to certain planning conditions where the principle of the proposal is acceptable (the temporary footpath closure in this case) and where there may be a degree of uncertainty around the detail at the time of making a decision on the planning application (the duration of the footpath closure in this case).
Hydroplan estimated a 3 month closure during the consideration of the planning application but once the contractors were on site, they advised Hydroplan that a timescale of 6 months was more realistic to allow the installation of the pipeline and to ensure a good standard of restoration for the footpath. The proper restoration of the footpath is essential and, in considering the extension of time for the footpath closure, we considered it reasonable to afford the contractors the extra time which was requested to ensure this is done properly. Restricting the works to 3 months could have had implications for the standard of work expected and we were not prepared to risk this.
I remember many people commenting at the time that there was no way that the work could be done in three months, so I am not one bit surprised that it is taking six. It also seems an odd feature of planning law that consent can be granted based on a specified condition but that this can then be modified ad hoc without requiring new planning permission.
I also heard back that the loan is not yet settled and work is still pending final agreement with various lawyers. I will report further when I hear more, though I am not holding my breath as everything associated with this process seems to take a very long time to be communicated out.