MINISTER FOR the Environment John Gormley is expected to amend the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown development plan unless councillors drop a proposal to increase the volume of retail space in the area by up to 20 per cent.
In a letter earlier this week to the council, his department said the proposed amendment – adopted on March 10th against the advice of county manager Owen Keegan – would contravene retail planning guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).
The amendment, tabled by Cllr Jim O’Leary (FG), replaced the term “lettable retail floorspace” with “net sales area” throughout a chapter of the draft development plan dealing with the provision of shopping facilities.
“The department is of the view that the amendment contravenes the 2005 guidelines, which clearly differentiate between the relevant definitions,” the letter said, noting that “net sales area” typically constituted 80 – 90 per cent of the total lettable area.
“The effect of the amendment is to increase the total retail floorspace permitted in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown during the life of the plan by 10 to 20 per cent compared with that envisaged by the GDA retail strategy,” the department warned.
It said this would be a “material alteration” to the draft plan and, as such, should have been published for public consultation in accordance with the relevant section of the 2000 Planning Act “and should not therefore have proceeded”. The draft development plan is due to come into force on April 8th and, if councillors do not amend the disputed definition of retail space, the Minister would have no option but to use his powers under the 2000 Act to bring it into compliance.
Mr Gormley earlier issued a direction to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to reconsider the rezoning of Park Village, near the N11 in Carrickmines, from a neighbourhood centre to a potentially much larger district centre — also against planning advice.
When the matter came to a vote on March 10th, cathaoirleach Marie Baker (FG) had to use her casting vote to uphold the Minister’s direction after receiving legal advice from the officials that the council had to accept it — whether or not the members agreed.