Saturday 24 March 2007

Roads authority warning on Ikea development

The Ikea oral hearing continued through the week - here's a review of the early exchanges in The Irish Times.

Ballymun junction will not have sufficient capacity to cater for traffic demand in future years if the Ikea development is given approval, the National Roads Authority has told an oral hearing on the proposal.
Hugh Creegan, head of programme management at the NRA, yesterday said the authority had serious concerns about the implications of the proposed 30,000sq metre Swedish superstore.
The proposed development, on 12.6 hectares close to the Ballymun Road junction of the M50, was granted permission by Fingal County Council last October. This was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by seven parties, who began presenting their cases at an oral hearing before senior planning inspector Keith Sargeant yesterday.
Mr Creegan said Ikea traffic would dominate the usage of the M50 at weekends, with up to 8 per cent of traffic on the motorway attributable to the home furnishing superstore even after a €1 billion motorway upgrade project was completed.
He said that work carried out by MVA consultants, on behalf of the NRA, showed that 70 per cent of trips to Ikea at weekends would arrive via the M50.
"The M50 motorway is currently the busiest and most congested national route in Ireland with in excess of 95,000 vehicles per day using its busiest
sections," he said. "Following its upgrade, the M50 will be a vital and valuable resource for the city and the country.
"Adjacent development and traffic loading needs to be carefully managed to ensure that the proper performance of that asset is not threatened or diminished."
Mr Creegan also said that a proposal to increase parking charges at busy times to deter parking in the Ikea car park, which has a capacity of 1,527 vehicles, was unlikely to be useful or effective in terms of addressing traffic congestion.
Owen Shinkwin of the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO), made a presentation to the hearing in the capacity of an observer.
He said the DTO had concerns in relation to the scale and location of the development and the site was more suitable for a high-density development given its proximity to the proposed metro lines.
He also said it did not demonstrate a consistency with DTO strategic guidelines for the greater Dublin area.
However, Deiric O'Broin, representing the Ballymun Partnership and Ballymun Job Centre, said the development would give the area an opportunity to join the economic mainstream.
He said 900 people were registered with the job centre in 2006 and unemployment in the area was three times the national rate, at 14 per cent.
"Ikea offers great opportunities, with over 500 full- and part-time jobs available," he said. "It is expected that approximately 50 per cent of these jobs will be filled by local people."
Ciarán Murray, director of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL) said Ikea could provide "an almost unique match for the skills of local people" and was an opportunity to "address the bad planning of the past".
"From the early stages of developing the master plan for the new Ballymun, we were looking for a flagship project that would make Ballymun a destination people would want to come to," he said.
"Ikea would achieve this objective and the wider local economy of the area would benefit."
In advance of the hearing, Ikea project manager Therese Daly, said they were confident they could get around any traffic problems, pointing out that the store would not open until 10am, avoiding morning commuter traffic.
She said there was nowhere else the development could go, given current planning guidelines.
Fiona Gartland
© 2007 The Irish Times

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