Sunday 19 August 2007

Opponents may legally challenge Greystones plan

I was away during the week, so I am just posting this story from Tuesday last now.

Opponents of a €300 million redevelopment scheme for Greystones harbour in Co Wicklow are to meet next week to examine grounds for a legal challenge to the scheme.

The move will follow a meeting this week between Wicklow County Council and its private sector partners, the Sispar consortium, aimed at setting a five-year construction timetable for the project.

Envisaged in the redevelopment of the harbour is a modern marina, some 5,500sq m of commercial units and 341 new homes, a public park and new premises for existing harbour users.

The council, which is to provide some 70 acres for the project, said it has already begun work on redesigning access to the site and implementing a traffic management programme in the local area, as required by Bord Pleanála.

The council hopes land-based construction work will begin this year, with major marine works starting next spring. Last week, a council spokesman said the commitment to providing the new harbour in advance of 341 new homes, planned as part of the development, remained intact.

However, speaking yesterday, Fiachra Etchingham of the Greystones Protection and Development Association (GPDA) said legal moves to halt the scheme were being examined. The association was looking at a number of aspects of the board's decision as well as the processes used by the council to acquire land for the development, he added.

The council originally owned about 40 acres of the 70-acre site and used the compulsory purchase order system to acquire the remainder. However, the GPDA has questioned the use of the system to acquire the foreshore, which they claim is constitutionally complicated.

The association is also anxious to see details of a wave-modelling scheme commissioned by Sispar, which would demonstrate the suitability of the harbour piers to withstand easterly gales. Mr Etchingham said such detail was denied to the planning inquiry, despite repeated requests.

Should there be no challenge, construction is to take place over the next five years. Much concrete manufacturing activity is to be carried out on site in an effort to minimise the number of lorries servicing the site by road.

The council is also required to carry out detailed archaeological works on the site in advance of construction. Two of the 13 conditions imposed on Sispar in the grant of planning permission relate to detailed archaeological surveys in the area of the proposed cement plants and at a former football field.

Included in the project is the rebuilding of the old Victorian harbour. A lighthouse base originally intended for the Kish bank is to be removed. Also set to go is a crumbling north wall.

Tim O'Brien
2007 The Irish Times

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