2.7.1 Designated Natural Heritage Sites
There are no recorded candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC) or Proposed Natural Heritage Areas (pNHA) in Gowran. The nearest cSAC is located approx. 7.5 km away, the River Barrow and River Nore, site code 002162. The nearest pNHA is Red Bog, Dungarvan, (Site code 000846) located approximately 4 km from Gowran. An Appropriate Assessment Screening has been carried out for this plan in line with Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive to assess possible implications to any cSACs.
An Ecological Survey was carried out by CAAS Environmental Services as part of the 2003 LAP, and this identified four areas of ecological interest; three of which centred on the River and the other around the soccer pitch.
2.7.2 Habitats Assessment
As part of the preparation for this plan, a Habitats Assessment was carried out by a team of ecological consultants. This report is included as Appendix 2 of this Plan. The study mapped all habitats within the plan area, and also rated habitats based on their ecological merit and value as an ecological network.
Based on the findings of the habitats assessment, and in line with the County Development Plan, policies and objectives have been formulated for the protection and enhancement of habitats in the plan area, with particular emphasis placed on those habitats and ecological corridors of highest ecological value. Habitats of highest value are illustrated on Map 2; specific objectives have been formulated in relation to the protection of these most significant habitats.
2.7.3 Nature Conservation Outside of Designated Areas
There are no sites within the draft LAP boundary designated under national or European legislation. However substantial areas of high biodiversity value are found outside the existing network of designated sites, but within the LAP boundary; and whilst not protected under legislation, they contribute to the biodiversity of the area.
Habitats and landscape features have an important role to play as ecological “corridors” as they allow for the movement of species, and help to sustain the habitats, ecological processes and functions necessary to enhance and maintain biodiversity. It is important that these areas are conserved and managed well.
The habitat assessment carried out as part of the survey work for this plan used a ‘Green Infrastructure’ approach to describe and assess biodiversity, based on the identification of habitats and their interconnected relationship within ecological networks. Other ecosystem services such as connectivity between habitats; flood attenuation and spaces for recreation were also identified. A detailed hedgerow survey was also carried out.
The identification of ecological networks can assist in identifying features, outside designated areas that might trigger screening and risk pathways that could suggest the need for full appropriate assessment.
All habitats within the LAP area enhance the biodiversity of the area and should be protected and enhanced where possible. However there are a number of habitats of significant ecological value, due to the species contained therein and/ or due to their function as an ecological network. These habitats have been shown on Map 2.
Policies (Chapter 8 of the County Development Plan 2008-2014 also applies):
Policy H1 To ensure that any development in or near sites of local conservation interest, as identified in Table 3 of Appendix 2, will minimise any significant adverse impact on the features for which the site has been designated.
Policy H2 Applicants shall demonstrate that there will be no adverse impacts on the ecological integrity of sites of high local ecological value identified in this plan from developments on adjacent sites.
18.104.22.168 Gowran River Valley – GR1
The most important ecological network in Gowran is based around the river and adjacent wet woodland. It contains rare wetland habitats, supports salmon and bats which have statutory protection, and is considered of national ecological value. The river is linked with the candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) associated with the River Barrow and Nore. This area provides for flood attenuation. Development adjacent to this ecological network which could affect water quality or riparian habitats should be screened for its potential impact on the candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). The Council will support the progression of designation of this area as a potential National Heritage Area (pNHA).
Obj. H3 To protect and enhance the habitat of the Gowran River, and its associated ecological corridors and habitats, as identified as GR1 on Map 2. An ecological impact assessment will be required in order to assess the impact of any development which could potentially affect this area; this should include a survey of protected species where appropriate. Where a proposal is deemed likely to have a significant effect on the Gowran River, it shall be subject to an appropriate assessment.
22.214.171.124 Grassland & Hedgerows to the north of the village – GR2
A small area of grassland and hedgerows to the north of the village, adjacent to the soccer field has been identified as being of high local value having regard to its diversity of plant species, use as a commuting route for small mammals, a nesting site for birds, and also for providing seeds for birds. The existing permission for development in this area is noted. Where possible development in this area should seek to retain an area of grassland adjacent to the hedgerows.
Obj. H4 To protect and enhance the habitats of GR2 as identified on Map 2. An ecological impact assessment will be required in order to assess the impact of any future development within this area.
A number of hedgerows were identified as high value having regard to a number of factors including biodiversity, structural and connectivity value. These hedgerows are identified on Map 2 for retention and enhancement as they contribute significantly to biodiversity in the area.
Obj. H5 To require details for the retention and integration of hedgerows of high value as identified on Map 2, in all development proposals to ensure that the ecological integrity and connectivity of the hedgerow is protected during and after construction.
From local information, it is known that an area known as Earl’s Bog, in Earlsbog Commons townland, which contains a number of springs, exists. This area is located to the west of the town, outside the plan area boundary, and was not included in area covered by the habitats assessment.
Gowran is recorded as a Town in the Record of Monuments and Places (KK020-060). There is a Zone of Archaeological Potential recorded in Gowran and there are a number of items recorded on the RMP. (Please consult the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s Record of Monuments and Places for the location of Recorded Monuments – see www.archaeology.ie for the most up-to-date listing). A second zone of Archaeological Potential is located around Ballyshanemore Castle on Mill Road. This is located outside the Plan development boundary. The two Zones of Archaeological Potential and the location of recorded monuments are shown on Map 3. Policies for the protection of archaeological heritage are set out in Chapter 8: Heritage of the County Development Plan 2008.
126.96.36.199 Mass path
A mass path is a pedestrian track connecting destinations frequently used by rural communities, most usually the destination of Sunday Mass. From local knowledge, a mass path has been identified in Gowran, leading from Chapel Street across to the Bennettsbridge Road. A foot bridge is shown across the river on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch 2nd edition map, with a footpath shown connecting to the Bennettsbridge Road. This footpath and footbridge are no longer in evidence. The line of the mass path is shown on Map 3: Archaeological Heritage. The County Development Plan 2008 includes an Action to “Research and map the existing network of traditional paths used for leisure purposes with the intention of determining the legal basis and status of their use”. This mass path should be included in this piece of research.
Obj. H6 To include the mass path as shown on Map 3 in any county-wide research work on traditional paths.
2.7.5 Record of Protected Structures
Gowran has 21 protected structures listed in the Record of Protected Structures in the County Development Plan, 2008. The existing Record of Protected Structures for the village is shown in Appendix 3. Works which would have a material effect on the character of the protected structure, require planning permission. Advice can be obtained by consulting with Kilkenny County Council’s Conservation Officer. Further guidance is available in Chapter 8: Heritage of the County Development Plan 2008.
Two of the protected structures; C120 and C121 are proposed for deletion from the RPS. C120, formerly known as Perle’s shop, is proposed for deletion as it is considered no longer to be of special interest under the Planning and Development Act 2000. C121 is the row of ten terraced three-bay single-storey estate workers’ houses, c.1850, which is known as Drover’s Row. These are proposed for deletion as they are now included in a revised Architectural Conservation Area, which is considered to offer them sufficient protection. Deletions to the RPS cannot be carried out as part of the LAP process, but the deletion process will be commenced following the adoption of this LAP.
2.7.6 National Inventory of Architectural Heritage
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) has been completed by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, for County Kilkenny. Descriptions and appraisals can be viewed at the NIAH website (www.buildingsofireland.com). An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Kilkenny was published by the NIAH in 2006, and offers an illustrated introduction to the architecture of the county. A total of 35 structures were identified by the NIAH survey in Gowran. The Minister made a recommendation in 2006 to consider structures included in the survey and rated Regional and above for inclusion in the RPS. A review of the NIAH has been carried out as part of this Draft LAP, and eleven NIAH structures are recommended for inclusion in the RPS, see Appendix 3. Additions to the RPS cannot be carried out as part of the LAP process, but the additions process will be commenced following the adoption of this LAP.
Policies & Objectives (Chapter 8 of the County Development Plan 2008-2014 also applies):
Policy H7 To protect and enhance the amenity and built environment of Gowran and to provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance for both the built and natural environment of the village
Obj. H8 To respond to the Ministerial recommendation to include in the Record of Protected Structures, structures which have been identified in the NIAH, as recommended in Appendix 3 to the RPS.
Obj. H9 To review the Record of Protected Structures and make appropriate deletions as recommended in Appendix 3.
2.7.7 Architectural Conservation Area (ACA)
An ACA was first designated for Gowran in the 2003 LAP. This designation covered the central core of the town, stretching from the gates of Gowran Castle to the former estate houses west of the Fair Green.
As part of this Draft Plan a review of the architectural heritage in the town was carried out, and this included modifications to the ACA.
188.8.131.52 ACA Character Appraisal
Gowran derives much of its special architectural interest from a curving streetscape with a significant change in level from high ground at its eastern entry point to its lowest level where it crosses the river at the western end of the town. This combination of curving streetscape and change in levels brings a lively dynamic of movement and drama to the streetscape as the visitor proceeds from east to west or vice versa. The influence of its topographical setting is enhanced by the four nodal points in the town which encourage the visitor to linger before moving on; these points are (i) the entrance to Gowran Demesne, (ii) the Medieval Church of St. Mary’s and formal eighteenth-century square with mature trees opposite (Fair Green), (iii) the interesting grouping of curved and corner buildings at the Kilkenny Road junction and (iv) the formal quality of the entry point at the western end of the town.
The streetscape is composed mostly of vernacular buildings principally two storeys in height, rendered and painted, with classically proportioned window openings and wall to window ratio. Timber sash windows, classical timber doors, external painted render, natural slate roofs and early timber shopfronts are significant details which contribute to the character of the area. There are a small number of buildings which depart from this simple vernacular including the formal stone building beside the entrance to Gowran Demesne (the former Court House), Gowran Castle gate Lodge, the Tudor Revival former Curate’s House and several terraces of both single and two-storey houses which were built by Gowran Demesne to house estate workers. This sinuous urban streetscape and interesting unfolding of buildings is framed with great visual impact within the rich agricultural setting of the County Kilkenny countryside.
An area separate to the main streetscape in both location and character is the grouping of ecclesiastical and educational buildings on the western fringe of the town to the north of the river’s flood-plain. The school, Catholic Church and presbytery are characterised by their relative isolation on the western edge of the town and derive much interest from the sense of open parkland space which characterises their setting.
The designation of the area as an Architectural Conservation Area is further justified by the special historic interest of the town which retains an interesting and very representative collection of buildings spanning the centuries. This includes the 13th Century Church of St. Mary (a National Monument), a classical courthouse, an urban vernacular streetscape dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, reflective of the prosperity of the area due to the richness of the surrounding agricultural landscape, and picturesque examples of estate village houses indicating the benevolent influence of the improving landlords of the 19th and early twentieth centuries.
According to the Planning and Development Act 2000-2007, the purpose of designation as an Architectural Conservation Area is to ‘preserve’ the character of the area. The intention is not to prevent future development of the urban environment but to ensure that future development proposals make use of good quality contemporary design and a strong emphasis should be placed on sensitive integration into the existing character of the area. The ACA boundary is illustrated on Map 4 (a) and (b): Architectural Heritage.
ACA Policies (Policies H102-H111 of the County Development Plan 2008-2014 also apply)
Policy H10 Details which contribute to the character of the area should be retained. This includes timber sash windows, classical timber doors, external painted render, natural slate roofs and early timber shopfronts. Only timber sash windows should be installed where existing windows are being replaced in vernacular buildings. Where windows were originally of a material other than timber and a design other than sash, the original intended materials and design should be followed. uPVC windows and doors are considered to have a negative impact on the character of the ACA and where an opportunity arises to replace them they should be replaced with more appropriate alternatives. Windows which contribute to the character of the structure should be repaired rather than replaced. All doors which contribute to the character of the structure should be retained and repaired rather than replaced.
Policy H11 External renders should not be removed unless failing and then should be replaced with painted lime renders.
Policy H12 Where roofs are being repaired/replaced natural stone slate only should be used.
Policy H13 The creation of visual clutter should be avoided when making proposals for street signage, advertising, street furniture etc.
Policy H14 New development should make use of good contemporary design and a strong emphasis should be placed on sensitive integration into the existing character of the area.