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Arden swimming pool on hold as residents lodge appeal

19th February 2019


A proposal to operate a commercial swimming pool at Arden Heights in Tullamore has been put on hold and is now in the hands of An Bord Pleanala to decide the outcome.

Offaly County Council gave the development permission on December 18, 2018.

However residents of Arden Heights lodged an appeal on December 19.

The applicant, Joe Bergin, of 11 Arden Heights is seeking to run a swimming academy behind his house providing professional swimming lessons, water based physical therapy and video analysis to  professional swimmers and triathletes, people with physical disabilities, those with special needs and people with obesity and reduced mobility issues.

It's envisaged that the pool will be housed in a new single storey building approximately 131 sq.m in size by 4.4m high and will be called the Swimfinity Swimming Academy.

Offaly County Council attached 11 conditions to its permission, stipulating that the applicant must provide a fully enclosed corridor stretching from the front building line of the existing house on site to the proposed development. In addition no 'on-street' customer or staff parking is to be permitted in the interest of traffic safety, furthermore the swimming pool cannot be sold other than as part of the house.

In its submission the residents have raised a number of issues. They fear the disruption the proposed commercial development in a residential area is likely to cause to their ''well established neighbourhood''should it be permitted.

They claim the development in its scale and use is not in keeping with the local pattern of development and it is feared, if granted, would set an undesirable precedent and seriously injure the residential amenity and value of the area and its dwelling houses.

In addition the residents say the proposed building is larger then the existing dwelling house resulting in the dwelling being secondary to the commercial development in an area which is zoned residential.

They are also worried about parking requirements, adding that on-street parking is discouraged and monitored regularly at Arden Heights, so as to avoid inhibiting residents and emergency vehicles passing to the end of the cul de sac development. ''Any person unfamiliar with the policies of the residents association will most likely attempt to park on-street, if none is provided off-street, as they will be unaware of the dangers and cause persistent obstacles on the street should the proposed commercial development be permitted,'' the association concludes. 

Meanwhile, the applicant Mr Bergin has stated that all clients will be dealt with on a one to one basis with one instructor and one client and when deemed appropriate one carer or parent. The maximum number of people expected within the swimming area is three. He said given the proposed facilities, it is intended to suitably space out the appointments in a manner that prevents overlap of clients appointments.

''We note the requirement for the provision of 6 spaces however,we believe 4 spaces will be more than adequate on the following basis. Space 1 Homeowner, Space 2 Homeowner/Operator, Space 3- Client, Space 4- Client Helper Parent Visitor.''

It is the intention of the applicant to seek out a ''best in class'' pool with respect to noise and atmospheric emission abatement given it will be located to the rear of his own property.

The applicant is willing to accept the noise and atmospheric emission testing at commissioning as a condition of the planning permission.





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