Portmarnock Local Area Plan revoked after vote
By John Manning
A LOCAL Area Plan for lands in Portmarnock was sensationally revoked at a meeting of Fingal County Council after a Green Party councillor insisted that several studies would have to take place on the site before councillors could make an informed decision on the plan.
The Draft Portmarnock Local Area Plan covered a large tract of land, south of Portmarnock village, and contained provision for 1,500 new houses and apartments.
The plan was returning from a period of public consultation where five submissions were made by political representatives, the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) and local residents.
County planners had prepared detailed responses to each of the five submissions and were putting the plan before a full meeting of the council for approval.
Hopes of passing the plan faded quickly however when the very first councillor’s motion on the plan, calling on the plan to be revoked pending the carrying out of various studies on the lands, was narrowly passed.
Cllr David Healy (GP) put forward the motion calling for the plan to be revoked and asked that a number of steps be taken before the plan returned to the council for approval.
Cllr Healy asked that a biodiversity study be conducted on the lands and that initial design for a public park near the lands be completed.
Cllr Healy also asked for the production of contour maps and visibility analysis to help determine appropriate site ground levels and building heights on the lands.
The Green Party councillor also asked that provision be made in the plan to provide high standards of design and construction in the residential component of the plan to meet the highest energy and water efficiency standards.
Cllr Healy also asked for greater provision in the proposed street network for pedestrians and cyclists.
Council planners argued that the plan already provided for all of the environmental concerns raised by Cllr Healy and that a statutory Environmental Impact Statement would be required for any future development on the site.
Cllr Healy said it was important for the councillors to know the layout of the road and street network in the area before making a decision and said a lot of important work needed to be done before the council could consider progressing the plan.
Cllr Anne Devitt (FG) said she didn’t disagree with what Cllr Healy was trying to achieve but it was for the councillors to agree a broad outline of the plan and for the expert officials on the council, bound by the regulations of the County Development Plan, to work out the precise detail.
Cllr Clare Daly (SP) said she agreed that councillors needed to call on the expertise of officials in putting together Local Area Plans but said that in this case detail was ‘very scarce on the ground’ and there was merit to Cllr Healy’s proposal.
Cllr Peter Coyle (Lab) backed calls for the plan to be revoked and said the construction of a second parallel runway at Dublin Airport would have a significant impact on the site.
Cllr Robbie Kelly (GP) also backed the motion, saying: ‘All we are looking to do with this motion is to put some detail in the plan.’
Director of Planning at Fingal County Council, David O’Connor said he didn’t doubt the sincerity of Cllr Healy’s concerns but the argument was about the very nature of a local area plan.
Mr O’Connor said the argument was whether a LAP was an absolutely detailed plan or a broad strategy for a particular area.
Mr O’Connor said the provisions of the new County Development Plan would be strictly adhered to and enforced on the site and offered all the protections that Cllr Healy was asking for.
Cllr Healy responded saying: ‘The real question we’re addressing here is, is it appropriate that this kind of forward planning be done by the council or private developers?
‘I would like to have our experts lay down what we want rather than monitoring it after,’ he added.
Cllr Healy’s motion was put to the vote and was passed by a single vote, meaning the draft plan will be revoked pending the completion of the studies asked for in the motion.
After the vote was completed, Fianna Fail councillors complained bitterly and Cllr Darragh O’Brien (FF) said important development would be delayed and he wanted to know what process the plan would go through now.
The site in question is a 100 acre plot, south of Portmarnock, bordered to the north by Station Road, to the south and east by green belt lands and to the west by the Dublin to Belfast railway line.
The site was excluded from the Portmarnock/Baldoyle Action Plan in 2001 because it lies within the study area on Public Safety Zones (PSZ) for Dublin Airport commissioned by the Department of Transport and the Department of Environment.
Mon October 10th 05