by Anton McNulty, Mayo News (27th Sept 2016)

A LANDMARK Castlebar pub has been given the go-ahead to be redeveloped despite objections from residents who expressed concern it would lead to increased levels of noise pollution.
An Bord Pleanála upheld a decision by Mayo County Council to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Johnny McHale’s Pub on Lower Chapel Street in Castlebar.
The proposed redevelopment consists of the extension of existing ground floor, first floor and toilet areas; conversion of residential first floor to public house use; construction of a new basement to accommodate a cold room and the demolition of an existing shed.
Johnny McHale’s pub is one of the oldest establishments in Castlebar and the two storey building currently consists of a public house at the ground floor and residential accommodation at the first floor.
The intended use for the proposed redevelopment of the pub will be to accommodate private parties such as Christmas parties, christenings, birthdays and no substantial food preparations are proposed.
The decision to grant planning permission has been objected to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) by the Rathbawn Drive Residents Association on a number of grounds including the excessive scale the development, noise pollution and disturbance and it will have an overbearing impact on adjacent properties.
The residents commissioned ICAN Consultants to assess the information submitted in relation to noise by the applicant. In their submission to ABP, they said they found ‘serious deficiencies’ in the information submitted.
They claimed that existing noise levels were measured in the absence of any band music and non-scientific statements were used in part, as the basis for the noise assessment. ICAN Consultants stated that predictions did not use measured data from an actual band playing live music and instead levels were based on the pubs background music systems.
In response, Allegro Acoustics noise consultants for the applicant stated that all live bands are sound amplified and played through the public address system. They stated they choose to replicate the scenario by playing loud music through the PA and would be satisfied that higher levels would not be recorded.
In assessing the appeal, Dolores McCague, Inspector for ABP said she was satisfied the development was in line with the town’s development plan and encroachment into areas formerly in residential use, should not be a reason to refuse permission.
In relation to the issue of noise, the applicant agreed that there should be no active speaker for playing music in the smoking area after 11pm. Ms McCague said in her opinion the noise impact from the existing development will be ‘substantially improved’ by the implementation of the proposed development, and would not generate a noise which could ‘reasonably be a cause of concern.
Planning permission was granted subject to ten conditions which included implementation of a noise monitoring programme for a period of six months after the development coming into operation.