Our Work

1. Advocacy

Some of our advocacy work can be viewed on the website of An Bord Pleanala. The Website provides access to a record of all decided appeal cases n recent years. Each appeal is identified by a unique six figure reference number. A sample lisst of appeals in which this practice has represented first parties (e.g. residents and resident groups) is set out below. Our aim is to make submissions that are conscise, comprehensive and compelling.

First party appeals and responses to appeals
Nursing home in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, PL 45.236343
Residential scheme at O’Callaghan’s Mills, Co. Clare PL 03.218664
Wind farm at Killin Hill, Co. Donegal, PL 05.226845
Montessori School, Lisnagry, Co. Limerick, PL 13.240713
Public house extension, Ennis, Co Clare, PL 03.240150
Change of use of shop to crèche, Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, PL 13.240835
House in Ballina, Co. Tipperary, PL 22.243474

 Third party appeals and observations
Wind farm in Slieve Aughty Mountains in east Clare, PL 03.235373
Nursing home extension, Lattin, Co. Tipperary, PL 23.240989
Rear extension to house, Limerick City, PL 30.241670
Supermarket development, Galway City, PL 61.242151
Change of use of first floor to medical center, Killarney, Kerry, PL 63.242686

2. Feasibility studies and site development

We design and facilitate development projects. We carry out studies of potential, provide site briefs, assemble design teams and assist in consultations and negotiations with local planning authorities.

Example: National Railway Heritage Museum

Elevation facing Shannon Estuary and showing first floor cafe

Elevation facing Shannon Estuary and showing first floor cafe

We have secured planning permission for the West Clare Railway Company to build a National Railway Heritage Museum at Moyasta in West Clare.
The project consists of a 1500m2 museum building for the display of trains and carriages. Access to the museum for the public will be by train from the existing West Clare Railway visitor centre. This involves construction of a rail crossing of the N67 which is part of the development granted permission. The museum building incorporates a first-floor café from which there will be impressive views across Poulnasherry Bay, adjacent to the museum site. The permission will be implemented in two phases; first the construction of the museum building and then the other works including the railway crossing.

The museum will be a significant tourism attraction in West Clare and on the Wild Atlantic Way. The project is a key aspect of a long-term strategy that will eventually see the restoration of a rail service between Kilrush and Kilkee.

The planning permission has involved contributions from the following:-

Cyril O’Reilly                           building design
Alan Lipscombe                      road and traffic engineering
Tobin Consulting                    road safety audit, stage 1
Paul Murphy, EirEco             appropriate assessment
Townland Surveys                  topographical survey
Tim Clarke, Wasteworks       wastewater treatment system

Example: Primary School Project in Ennistymon, Co. Clare
Over the past five years we have been acting as advisers to the Muinin Trust, a North Clare charity for the promotion of Steiner (Waldorf) education. The Trust had wanted to find a suitable site to build a Steiner national school and other facilities. There is an existing Steiner school in Ennistymon but it consists of a collection of portacabins on a constricted site in the town centre. In 2009 identified an attractive 2.5 hectare site on the outskirts of Ennistymon. The site is within easy walking distance of the centre but has such a natural character that it could be in the middle of the countryside. We were able to persuade Clare County Council to zone the site for a school use in the new North Clare Local Area Plan. In 2010 the Trust bought the site and we helped it to obtain outline planning permission for a school. Parents (which includes ourselves) of the Steiner school  have launched a funding campaign to build the school. In 2014, working with architect Miles Sampson,  we secured full permission for the school.

Example: Feasibility Study of the Burren as a Learning Landscape 

The study, which was commissioned by the Burrenbeo Trust,  was  launched by Ciaran Cannon, Minister for Training and Skills, at the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan in  May 2014.  The study was written by Brendan McGrath and Brian McNally and is the outcome of an extensive local consultation and a desk-top review of international experience. It sets out a 5-year Framework Plan for a Network of Learning Communities in the Burren. There are four strategies in the plan, which are:-

  1. A programme to enable local communities to fully participate in the learning network,
  2. The development  of Place-Based Education (PBE) for Irish schools,
  3. The exploration and development of innovative learning methodologies including ICT-based methodologies, and
  4. The encouragement of Place-based Learning (PBL) entrepreneurship.


Example: Residential scheme in Ennis, County Clare

The project: 19-unit residential scheme (7 houses and 12 apartments)
The client: private householder
Objective: To maximise the market value of a 1 acre (4000 m2) suburban site
Role of Brendan McGrath
Brendan carried out an assessment of development potential and drew up a design brief for the site. He assembled a team of designers and steered the project through the planning process.

Associates working on the project
Cyril O’Reilly, designer
Fergal Couglan, civil engineer
Townland Surveys

ennis site before Development  ennis site after Development

Ennis site before development    Ennis site after development

south elevation

South elevation drawing

3. Countryside planning

We have wide experience of countryside development including planning for recreation and tourism, the design of walking routes,  management plans for historic demesnes and the development of retirement villages

Example: Plan for Woodstock in County Kilkenny

The project: Woodstock Local Area Plan
Client: Kilkenny County Council

Objective: to provide both a statutory planning framework and environmental management guidance for an historic demesne in the Nore Valley

Role of Brendan McGrath
Brendan McGrath and Associates was the lead consultant in this multi-disciplinary project. Brendan managed a team to:-
carry out an environmental baseline study of an historic demesne,
review development options for the historic Woodstock House and
produce management guidelines for the demesne landscape.
Brendan managed a local area plan process that included an extensive public consultation phase (working with Tim O’Brien) and drafted a local area plan for adoption by Kilkenny County Council as The Woodstock Local Area Plan

Woodstock Local Area Plans

Associates involved in this project:
Paul Arnold Associates; conservation architects
Spatial Planning Solutions; GIS specialists
Mary Tubridy; ecologist
Craig Bullock; environmental economist
EDPM, engineering consultancy
John Olley; historic landscape expert

consultation event noble fir avenue
Consultation event                                                  Noble Fir Avenue
riverside at inistioge  school participation
Riverside at Inistioge                                               School participation

woodstock lap    woodstock plan extract

                  Woodstock LAP                     Woodstock Plan extract

4. Detailed plans and master plans
for villages, towns and suburbs

We prepare statutory and non-statutory plans on behalf of local authorities, land owners and communities, drawing on an extensive experience of public consultation and deployment of a range of analytical tools. We produce clear attractive documents.

Example: Askeaton Local Area Plan, Askeaton, Co. Limerick

Client: Limerick County Council

Objective: to prepare a statutory local area plan for an historic settlement in west County Limerick

Role of Brendan McGrath
Brendan McGrath and Associates were the lead consultant. Brendan was in charge of the plan team, drafted the written statement and was responsible for the public events and liaison with the local planning authority

The rest of the project team
Spatial Planning Solutions, planners and GIS experts
Hassett Leyden, architects
Rob Goodbody, historic buildings consultant

(Provide link to Askeaton Local Area Plan on Limerick County Council website)

askeaton  consultation event

Askaeton                                       Consultation event

development framework

Development framework

draft urban design proposal

Draft urban design proposal


Spider diagram of environmental sustainability

town centre conservation

Town centre conservation policy

woodstock zoning map extract

Askeaton zoning map extract

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