Friday 16 May 2008

South Dublin land rezoned against advice of planners

COUNCILLORS IN south Dublin have rezoned land in a green belt area at Citywest near Saggart to allow for the development of a shopping centre of up to 40,000sq ft (3,700sq m), against the advice of the county planners.

The rezoned land is known as “golf village” and is part of the Citywest Hotel complex. The land was previously rezoned to provide facilities specifically to cater for golfers and their guests, consisting of designer shops and golf outlets.

Councillors have now rezoned the land for a general retail centre, even though the site is less than 1km from the Citywest shopping centre and close to Saggart Village which, when combined with the current retail element of golf village, leaves more than 68,000sq ft of unoccupied retail space in the immediate area.

The motion to rezone the land was originally proposed last year by Fianna Fáil councillor Jim Daly, who said it would be appropriate given that the proposed Luas extension to Citywest would have a stop adjacent to golf village.

However, the director of planning with the council, Tom Doherty, said the zoning should not go ahead. The change would have “a negative impact on the vitality and viability” of the Citywest shopping centre and the Saggart local centre, would undermine both centres and be contrary to the overall settlement strategy for the county, he said.

Mr Doherty also noted that An Bord Pleanála had in 2005 refused a previous application to increase the retail space at golf village on the same grounds and on the grounds that such a change would conflict with green belt zoning.

Green Party councillor Tony McDermott, who voted against the rezoning, said it had been a “speculative, developer-led” move.

“This decision defies logic. The last thing the Saggart/Citywest area needs is more shops. The Citywest shopping centre was opened only last September and has plenty of vacant retail space. Saggart Village also has thousands of square feet of retail space available. This variation of the County Development Plan is uncalled for and not good for the area.”

He noted that there had been no submissions supporting the zoning during the public consultation process.

Irish Times

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