A major planning row is on the cards in Ashbourne after an application for permission to build 19 houses, 6 maisonettes and 6 apartments has been made for lands at Old Killegland graveyard, which were gifted to the parish, by a parishioner, Ned Nulty, over two decades ago.

It is understood Nulty donated the lands primarily for the extension of the graveyard should it become necessary and for the construction of a parochial house

However, as the St Finian’s Trust, a limited company that oversees the running of parish affairs in all of the Meath dioceses did not make use of it the land was zoned residential in 1999.

As nothing was developed there Meath County Council placed a €100k per year levy on it in 2019 as part of a campaign to raise funds for house building.

However, in a submission to the Meath development plan for this year five Ashbourne councillors, Fine Gael duo, Alan Tobin and Suzanne Jamal, Independent Amanda Smith, Fianna Fáils Conor Tormey and Sinn Féins Aisling O’ Neill had the land zoned as Open Space with the intention of having a public park there.

Land at the Nine Mile Zone had been earmarked for just such a park but the zoning on that was transferred to the new location.

Crucially the development plan will not be officially in place until the autumn of this year and until then the residential zoning remains in place which is why the application was made.

It appears that the Trust sold the land to a company called Ashcroft development and subsequently a new company called Killegland Estates has been incorporated on April 27th last to oversee the proposed development.

The new company is based at Unit 4 Leopardstown Business Park, Ballyogan Road,Dublin D18 KX88 and has three directors, Alan Brunton, Edward Kent and Frank Keogh.

Meath Live attempted to contact all five of the councillors who had proposed the Open Space zoning but Amanda Smith did not respond to repeated phone calls.

Alan Tobin told us he wouldn’t talk to Meath Live, but on his Facebook page he has come out strongly against any planning application.

He posted, ‘ The field beside the old Killegland graveyard left to the church by Ned Nulty will now have a planning application before the residential zoning expires.

‘We’ve been keeping an eye on this site for a number of months now as there has been a lot of activity there for over a year now. We need to make sure that Ashbourne residents fight this and try to ensure that our park becomes a reality.

‘We deserve this park and we have independent analysis confirming this, paid for by the Ashbourne Playspace group. This 1-hectare site is the planned entrance to our park. It was sold to the highest bidder this month by St.Trinian’s Trust but not on the open market. Why???’

Suzanne Jamal said, ‘ This has come out of the blue, it was land that was there for years and years and we applied for it to be zoned differently to serve the community needs.

‘We have no influence over the proposed application I am just an ordinary Joe Soap when this arises all I can do is make a submission expressing my feelings and supporting my constituents and I intend to do that.’

Aisling O’Neill told us, ‘ The church never built on it, so we as a group of five councillors put in for a green space for the community but the church is after selling it to the developers.

‘My opinion is the developers should have been aware of the county development plan and aware of the community’s plans for that area so we are going to fight that planning application.’

Conor Tormey conceded that the council planning department may have a different view on the matter than him and his colleagues but insisted, ‘We are still going to put forward the zoning for Open Space, the planning department may look at it differently.’