‘Box on wheels’ chip van must have planning - Bórd Pleanála

Body sides with council in dispute over van-owner’s use of Connemara business park

People queueing at the Chipper van to buy fast food. File photograph: Facebook

People queueing at the Chipper van to buy fast food. File photograph: Facebook


The State’s highest planning body has sided with Galway County Council in a long-running dispute over a chipper van’s use of a Connemara business park.

Van-owner Mark Furniss claims to have sold fast food at the Clifden venue, which regularly hosts livestock marts and pony sales, for the last decade before being served with a warning letter by the council in January 2015.

Mr Furniss received further correspondence in March 2015 ordering him to “cease to operate his mobile catering business from the mart grounds immediately” as he did not have permission to do so, although he continued to trade there until August of that year according to the council’s planning file.

Mr Furniss appealed the council’s decision to An Bórd Pleanála in December 2015, making the argument that his activities were covered under existing planning permission for the site.

He likened the situation to a hotel having to file separate planning applications for inclusion of bars, bedrooms and restaurants in its plans.

His case was disputed in submissions by the county council, as well as interested observers Patricia O’Toole and Edward Byrne, who said Mr Furniss stations his van in the empty car park of the business park from Thursday to Sunday to sell food to residents of a local housing estate and passing motorists.

‘Traffic hazard’

They further argued that Mr Furniss’s van presents a “traffic hazard” and should not be regarded as exempted development, as the owner had requested.

In her report, planning inspector Angela Brereton said she visited the site on March 9th and 10th and the chipper van was not there, in accordance with the council’s order.

She agreed with Galway County Council’s position that specific planning permission must be sought for the van to continue trading at the business park, and An Bórd Pleanála sided with this point of view in a decision released last Friday.

The Irish Times requested comment from the planning firm which represented Mr Furniss, who is a native of Sheffield, throughout the case but did not receive a reply.

He previously told media he used to park on a public roadside in the centre of Clifden before the council ordered him to cease doing so in 2009.

“I mean as far as I am aware it’s a box on wheels. How do you get planning permission for a box on wheels?” he told UTV Ireland in April.