Like many planning cases, Lansdowne has been given the green light after the Board over-ruled the recommendation of a professional planner. I am in favour of the stadium, but want to make it very clear how this decision was 'against' planning advice. Once again, the advice of professional planners has not been heeded. Listening to the news on the day of the decision gave the impression of unanimous approval from planners for the scheme. This was not the case (though the Board, which is comprised of a mixture of individuals - a majority non-planners - voted unanimously in favour). Here's what the planner, Brendan Wyse, wrote as his conclusion and recommendation to a proposed refusal of this planning application:
It is acknowledged that the proposed stadium would be a vast improvement on the existing stadium. It would provide an up to date modern facility for participants and spectators and project an appropriate image as a 21st century international sports venue. It would provide for safer and more efficient spectator access and egress and improve the safety and operation of the Lansdowne DART station. It would perform better than the existing stadium in terms of noise and light spill.
This assessment, however, has also identified significant difficulties in relation to the proposed development arising, essentially, from the attempt to accommodate a 21st century stadium on the 19th century template of a restricted site in a tight knit, predominantly residential area. The main difficulties in relation to the proposed development are as follows:
• The results of the site selection process do not, as suggested in the EIS and other documentation, clearly indicate that the Lansdowne Road site was the best site. There is a considerable weight of evidence to suggest that the Ardagh site would be more suitable for a modern international stadium.
• The proposed stadium would lack flexibility as a strategic facility. The stadium as proposed would be at the minimum end of the capacity range acceptable for international rugby or Champions League soccer and the pitch size would not be capable of accommodating GAA matches.
• As acknowledged in the EIS the proposed stadium would give rise to substantial and adverse visual impacts in relation to the immediately adjacent residential areas.
• While the visual impact of the stadium would improve with distance the potential of the stadium to make a significant positive contribution to the urban landscape is diminished by the restrictions of the setting and the lack of opportunity to appreciate the full form of the building. Its purported iconic status would not be realised.
• The proposed stadium development would generate no significant quality urban space.
• The proposed stadium would constitute an overwhelming presence to the detriment of the character of adjacent residential areas that include designated Residential Conservation Areas. The proposal would be contrary to the Transitional Zone Policy in the Development Plan.
• The proposed stadium would give rise to excessive loss of light and overshadowing to adjacent residential properties.
• As acknowledged in the EIS the proposed new spectator access/egress routes at Swan Lane and the Dodder Walk would represent a significant, negative imposition on adjacent residents. They would give rise to serious injury to the residential amenities of these properties.
• The proposed development would be likely to give rise to devaluation of houses in the immediate vicinity.
The applicants overall approach, as reflected in he conclusion to the EIS and in other documentation, is to suggest that the local disbenefits associated with the proposed development would be offset or compensated for by the benefits accruing to others in the immediate area, the wider community, city economy etc. The Planning Authority adopts a similar approach. While in general such an approach is reasonable, and commonly applied in deciding planning cases, it cannot apply, in my view, where serious adverse impacts are identified, in particular to residential properties, as in this instance. In this situation an aggrieved party cannot be compensated by a benefit to other parties.
While the proposed stadium is clearly a project of strategic significance it does not have to be constructed on the Lansdowne Road site, notwithstanding the historic use of the site and the understandable desire of the applicants to remain at the location. In this context, it should be noted that the Ardagh site is located just 1 kilometre from the Lansdowne Road site.
It may be considered that the redevelopment of Croke Park has set a precedent for the proposed development and that it demonstrates that a modern stadium can be accommodated on an inner city site. However, while superficially similar, closer examination indicates that the site of the Corke Park stadium is not as tightly restricted by adjacent residential properties as the Lansdowne Road site. The closest houses to the Cork Park stadium were demolished as part of the overall development.
Available international evidence of modern stadia developments does not provide ready precedents either. This issue was raised on a number of occasions at the oral hearing, principally by Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Pomeroy (Appellants) (see Sections 126.96.36.199, 9.9.7 and 9.9.15 above). By reference to “The Stadium”, The Stadium Guide website and through the use of the Google Earth internet facility I have not been able to identify any precedents for a modern stadium built in such close proximity to residential properties as is proposed in this instance. The weight of evidence, particularly from recent British experience, and where the tradition of older stadia located within tight inner city residential areas is of particular relevance to the subject case, suggests that the practice is to relocate the stadium to larger, more suitable sites within the urban area. The new Emirates Stadium, London, located only a short distance from Highbury is a very good example of this. The former Highbury Stadium, located within a tight network of residential streets, is being redeveloped for residential purposes. The City of Manchester Stadium is another example and the former home of Manchester City, Maine Road, is also to be redeveloped for housing. Liverpool Football Club is also planning to relocate away from its existing stadium located in an older residential neighbourhood.
The examples referred to by the applicants, Tottenham Hotspur, Ipswich and the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff are not precedent cases. The Tottenham Hotspur ground, White Hart Lane, is on an old site and has been organically redeveloped overtime. However, it is not as tightly confined by residential properties as Lansdowne Road and its total capacity is only c.36,000. The club is currently examining redevelopment/relocation options. Ipswich Stadium is also not so confined and has a much smaller capacity. As already referred to at Sections 188.8.131.52 and 11.6.3 above the Millennium Stadium is located in the very different context of a central city commercial area on a prominent riverside site.
The deficiencies identified in relation to the proposed development cannot be rectified by condition. I conclude, therefore, that planning permission should be refused.
I recommend that planning permission be refused for the following reasons and considerations.
REASONS AND CONSIDERATIONS
1. Having regard to the examination of alternative locations contained in the EIS and, in particular, the document entitled “Stadium Site Feasibility Study”, Arup and others, April 2003, upon which the examination of alternative locations relies, and on the basis of the submissions made in connection with the application and the appeal, the Board is not satisfied that the Lansdowne Road site is the most suitable site available for the proposed stadium taking into account the effects on the environment. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
2. Having regard to the height, scale and mass of the proposed stadium and its close proximity to adjacent residential areas it is considered that it would:
(i) give rise to substantial and adverse visual impacts to adjacent residential properties;
(ii) constitute an overbearing presence to the detriment of adjacent residential areas that include designated Residential Conservation Areas in the Dublin City Development Plan;
(iii) give rise to an excessive loss of daylight and to excessive overshadowing of adjacent residential properties;
the proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the amenity and depreciate the value of residential properties in the vicinity and be contrary to the Transitional Zone Policy of the Dublin City Development Plan. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
3. The new access/egress routes at Swan Lane and the Dodder Walk would, by reason of disruption, noise, nuisance and reduction in privacy, seriously injure the amenities and depreciate the value of residential properties in the vicinity. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
4. Due to the restricted nature of the site located within a predominantly residential area with a tight knit urban form and street layout, the proposed stadium would make only a minimal positive contribution to the urban landscape and generate no significant quality public urban space that would be considered appropriate to a development of this type and significance. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Read the entire report at: http://www.pleanala.ie/lansdowne.html