Sunday 21 October 2007

Reopening of Dunleer station under threat

An Taisce has told An Bord Pleanála that the proposed re-opening of Dunleer train station will be jeopardised if it approves two planning applications which together involve the development of three parcels of land that adjoin the station.

The station closed in 1984 but its reopening is a stated objective of the Louth county development plan. Iarnród Éireann has said it is in talks with the council about options for additional stations in Louth including Dunleer.

The largest development is proposed by Dunleer Co-Ownership and is for a new town centre as well as 162 residential units. The existing small access road to the disused station would be a key access road for the scheme.

The second development by local landowner Tony Mallon is for 26 apartments and retail units.

Dunleer's population rose by 43 per cent between 2002 and 2006 due to its location beside the M1 motorway and the higher house prices in Drogheda forcing buyers further up the motorway.

In her report on the Dunleer Co-ownership application, the council's senior executive, planner Emer O'Callaghan, said: "A park-and-ride facility would be ideal here where commuters from the mid-Louth area could travel to Dunleer, park and then take the train."

An Taisce said the applicant "did not provide any such facility as part of this application. This issue was not raised by Louth County Council in its further information request."

The council's senior planner Gerry Duffy said: "The proposed development does not reflect the scale and character of Dunleer village and seems more appropriate for a much larger town or city, having regard to density, design and height of buildings, in particular."

He said the density of 122 units a hectare "is excessive and inappropriate in terms of Dunleer village and again seems more appropriate to Dublin city context."

However, the council granted permission subject to conditions.

An Taisce says An Bord Pleanála should not decide on the appeals until a master plan is prepared for the entire site or else risk effectively inhibiting "any coherent and efficient reopening of the railway station".

Louth Green Party councillor Mark Deary has made a submission to the board saying Dunleer's "rapid growth demands that the station be reopened in the interests of sustainable development".

"It can only benefit from the reopening of the station through the linkages it creates to the two biggest cities on the island, Dublin and Belfast, and two of the largest towns," Mr Deary added. "Reducing car dependency among the new commuters in Dunleer will assist in our meeting Kyoto commitments."

The appeals are due to be decided on by early next year.

Elaine Keogh
The Irish Times

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