Tuesday 30 September 2008

Ministers meet locals on Corrib project

TWO GOVERNMENT Ministers have described as "very constructive" a series of discussions on the controversial Corrib gas project held with politicians and community groups in Ballina, Co Mayo.

Minister for Energy Éamon Ryan and Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív described the talks yesterday as a "exercise in listening" and said they would be reflecting on what they had heard.

Mr Ryan said that uppermost in his mind were "the principles of safety and equity" and this was an "opening gambit" in an effort to reach resolution on the issue.

Mr Ó Cuív said separate sessions with the various groups represented "the right format at this time", but gave no indication of the content of the discussions.

Community groups Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal Le Chéile, who have backed a priests' proposal to relocate the Corrib gas refinery to a coastal site at Glinsk, were given the first hearing in the Ramada Hotel, Ballina.

Representatives of the Council for the West, Pro-Gas Mayo and the Pro Erris Gas Group attended a separate session, followed by representatives of Shell to Sea.

Several local fishermen, including Pat O'Donnell, who has environmental concerns over the project's impact on Broadhaven Bay, and Fr Michael Nallen were also given a hearing, although they had not been invited originally.

Politicians and councillors who met the Ministers in one session included Michael Ring (Fine Gael), John O'Mahony (Fine Gael) Beverley Flynn (Fianna Fáil), Dara Calleary (Fianna Fáil) and Senator John Carty (Fianna Fáil).

Mr Ring told The Irish Times that no specific proposals were put by the Ministers.

"I just hope that they keep the momentum going now," Mr Ring said. "Everyone knows what the problems are, and it is how to resolve them that is the issue."

Council for the West chairman Seán Hannick, who accompanied representatives from the Pro-Gas Mayo and Pro-Erris Gas Group at the hearings, said the talks were an opportunity to voice views to the Ministers responsible for the project and for the area.

Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman John Monaghan and Pobal Le Chéile chairman Ciarán Ó Murchú said they "warmly welcomed the process of engagement".

"We see this as acceptance by the Government that there are serious problems surrounding the project that require urgent attention. The suspension of works on the offshore pipeline offers a window of opportunity to finally bring the long-running conflict to an end. The siting of an inland gas refinery at Bellanaboy represents an unnecessary risk to health and safety and is the root cause of all the difficulties surrounding Corrib."

Significantly, both groups said they would "work with all parties, including Shell, Statoil and Marathon, to help deliver a safer solution for the people of Erris".

Shell to Sea spokeswoman Maura Harrington described the talks as an "exercise in futility" and said that if the two Ministers believed they could "tweak what was wrong eight years ago", they were mistaken.

Shell to Sea is looking for a full independent review of the project, as promised by the Green Party before it entered government.

Shell E P Ireland said it welcome the initiative taken by the Ministers. "The work currently being undertaken on the Corrib gas project has all the necessary consents and permissions required by the various statutory bodies which oversee the project," the company said in statement. "We remain open and willing to talk to any individuals or groups who have concerns about our project.

The Irish Times


Dublin council plans swingeing cuts in city building projects

DUBLIN CITY Council has drawn up a citywide list of building projects which are likely to be shelved because of the declining public finances.

The council refused to provide The Irish Times with the list, but documents seen by this newspaper reveal swingeing cuts in the south-central area of the city.

Among the projects facing deferral in this area are a proposed new civic space in front of Kilmainham Jail, plans for a new ceremonial entrance to the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge and a leisure centre in Crumlin.

Other projects which are being mothballed include a proposed new walking and cycling route along the Camac river, village improvements in Inchicore and Rialto and a planned open space at Ballyfermot Civic Centre.

South Central area manager Anne Graham has told local councillors these projects have been deferred "unless an alternative source of funding can be identified".

Ms Graham said the council carried out a comprehensive review of all capital projects over the summer because of a "significant" shortfall in capital funding.

However, when asked to furnish this document, the council said it could not, as it was still a draft and they did not want to "disappoint" communities.

"It's unclear at this stage what the position is. We'll have to wait until budget day to see what the Government decides," said head of finance Kathy Quinn.

However, she confirmed that the two main sources of funding for capital projects aside from Government support - development contributions and sales of assets - had dropped this year and were likely to be down next year too.

This means it will be extremely difficult to find alternative sources of funding.

The council's review of capital projects was continuing, she said, and it would not be clear until after the budget how many would go ahead. If reports that the Government intended to borrow heavily were true, the funding situation for the council would probably be better than expected.

In the south central area, Ms Graham says projects worth €14 million are already under way or about to start.

These include environmental improvements in Chapelizod village, the regeneration of Cork Street and the provision of a community centre in Bluebell.

The Irish Times


Landfill hearing reopens on concern that site is prehistoric 'sacred place'

AN BORD Pleanála yesterday reopened a two-year-old oral hearing into proposals for a major regional landfill on a 600-acre site at Nevitt in north Co Dublin.

The board said the re-opening was in response to concerns from academics that the site may be the location of a pre-Christian, "large-ditched enclosure of the Tara or Navan kind".

Addressing the inquiry yesterday, board inspector Des Johnson outlined a series of submissions between academics and the Department of the Environment, since the first hearing closed in October 26th, 2006.

The department had voiced concern that Nevitt "could be a site of exceptional importance" and "possibly a site of national importance". The submissions centred on the name Nevitt being the Celtic word for "the sacred place", suggesting an archaeology richer than had been estimated by the environmental impact assessment (EIA), commissioned by Fingal County Council.

Dr Richard Warner of the Royal Irish Academy, former keeper of antiquities at the Ulster Museum and authority on placenames, told the inquiry he had not been aware of the controversy about the landfill until he heard the name.

Addressing the hearing yesterday, Dr Warner said too little attention had been paid by the EIA to the relevance of the place name, which he said was derived from the old Irish "Nemed" which "can only mean sacred place". This was the only place in Ireland with this name, which could only mean a place of great importance, he said.

Dr Warner said the overwhelming implication was a built or dug structure and was likely to have been a substantial built shrine, a collection of small sacred sites "or a very large ditched enclosure of the Tara/Navan kind".

The area's potential had been reported by Dr Conor Newman of NUI Galway, who found the area rich in Roman-British artefacts.

Dr Warner questioned the adequacy of the assessment's methodology, which used a "magnetometer" to detect archaeology. He argued the magnetometer was used on 15 per cent of the site.

But consultant archaeologist George Lambrick told the hearing the EIA had no significant weaknesses. He said: "The most significant archaeology is more likely to be protected . . . with no clear evidence to support the hypothesis that a potentially important prehistoric sacred place might remain undetected."

The Irish Times


Council in talks over housing schemes

DUBLIN CITY Council has entered into negotiations with Boston firm Corcoran Jennison in relation to two of the five major social housing projects which were to have been built by Bernard McNamara.

Councillors were yesterday told that there was no potential developer in relation to the other three regeneration projects that collapsed earlier this year and that the council was facing a €20 million drop in its social housing budget for 2009.

Corcoran Jennison had bid for the public private partnership (PPP) contracts to redevelop the dilapidated flat complexes at Dominick Street, O'Devaney Gardens and St Michael's Estate.

However, the contracts for these and two other smaller regeneration projects at Infirmary Road and Seán McDermott Street were awarded to Mr McNamara.

The contracts with Mr McNamara collapsed earlier this year after it emerged that the developer could not get planning permission for the number of units he wanted, following a change in regulation on apartment size.

In his first report to the council's housing committee since the contracts with Mr McNamara were dissolved, assistant city manager Ciarán McNamara said that discussions were ongoing with Corcoran Jennison in relation to Dominick Street and St Michael's Estate.

The Infirmary Road project would be integrated with the neighbouring O'Devaney Gardens site and a taskforce was examining the options for these sites and the "convent lands" on Seán McDermott Street, he said.

He also told the council that because of public spending restrictions, there would be €20 million less in the social housing budget for 2009 than 2008 and a further €20 million of the 2009 budget would have to be set aside for the PPPs. The social housing budget for 2008 was €150 million.

"We are not going to get any additional monies," he warned.

Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne said she felt "deeply let down" by the council management. Following a severe spate of violence and vandalism in O'Devaney Gardens last summer, she had assured residents that the council was dealing with their estate as a matter of urgency.

"I can't go back and look those women in the eye and tell them that any progress at all has been made. I can offer no civic leadership to the people of O'Devaney Gardens."

Labour councillor Kevin Humphreys said there had been no progress on the PPP schemes for nine to 12 months. There were already 5,300 people on the housing waiting list and a €20 million shortfall would be a "disaster for the city".

Sinn Féin's Christy Burke said the Department of the Environment needed to be approached for additional money.

Mr McNamara said he understood there was frustration over the progress of the PPPs. "If there was a way we could speed it up, we would speed it up, but there isn't any pot of gold there."

The council formally terminated its contracts with Mr McNamara in relation to St Michael's Estate in Inchicore and Dominick Street in the north inner city last July. Agreement was reached that he would go ahead with the development on Seán McDermott Street in the city centre. The council entered into mediation with him on the projects at Infirmary Road and O'Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7.

The council last month issued a statement saying that following mediation, its relationship with Mr McNamara was now at an end in relation to all five projects, including the convent lands.

Under the mediation agreement, Mr McNamara undertook to hand over drawings and plans for the developments, give up claims to the land and pay the council €1.5 million in compensation. The council in return agreed not to take legal action against him.

The Irish Times


€65m stadium plan hits NRA roadblock

A NEW 10,000-seater soccer stadium plan has been branded "premature" by the National Roads Authority (NRA) because the motorway junction beside it is expected to be the starting point of a huge new ring road.

Earlier this year, Meath County Council agreed to contravene its development plan so permission could be granted for the €65m Drogheda United stadium, leisure centre, retail units and a motorway service station. The 25-hectare site is on the southside of Drogheda within the Co Meath boundary. It is on the Drogheda to Duleek road and beside the Duleek road junction with the M1.

An Bord Pleanala is not expected to make a decision until later this year.

The NRA appeal is the only one against permission and its submission says the proposed €2bn Dublin Outer Orbital Road linking Drogheda to Naas "is likely to begin at the M1/R152 Duleek road junction".

The route is a key objective of the regional planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area and the planning application "is premature pending determination of this route", argues the NRA.


The NRA says the junction would have to be upgraded to support the traffic flow described in the application. Because the junction is part of the motorway public private partnership (PPP) contract, it "will be much more difficult complex and expensive" to upgrade.

Meanwhile, Councillor Tommy Byrne (FF) called on Drogheda borough council to "write to the NRA and ask them to withdraw their objection".

Mr Byrne did not get the support of his fellow councillors but they did agree to put their support for planning permission in writing. At Drogheda United's current ground, United Park, planning permission was secured for 110 residential units, but that too is under appeal.

Elaine Keogh
Irish Independent


€65m stadium plan hits NRA roadblock

A NEW 10,000-seater soccer stadium plan has been branded "premature" by the National Roads Authority (NRA) because the motorway junction beside it is expected to be the starting point of a huge new ring road.

Earlier this year, Meath County Council agreed to contravene its development plan so permission could be granted for the €65m Drogheda United stadium, leisure centre, retail units and a motorway service station. The 25-hectare site is on the southside of Drogheda within the Co Meath boundary. It is on the Drogheda to Duleek road and beside the Duleek road junction with the M1.

An Bord Pleanala is not expected to make a decision until later this year.

The NRA appeal is the only one against permission and its submission says the proposed €2bn Dublin Outer Orbital Road linking Drogheda to Naas "is likely to begin at the M1/R152 Duleek road junction".

The route is a key objective of the regional planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area and the planning application "is premature pending determination of this route", argues the NRA.


The NRA says the junction would have to be upgraded to support the traffic flow described in the application. Because the junction is part of the motorway public private partnership (PPP) contract, it "will be much more difficult complex and expensive" to upgrade.

Meanwhile, Councillor Tommy Byrne (FF) called on Drogheda borough council to "write to the NRA and ask them to withdraw their objection".

Mr Byrne did not get the support of his fellow councillors but they did agree to put their support for planning permission in writing. At Drogheda United's current ground, United Park, planning permission was secured for 110 residential units, but that too is under appeal.

Elaine Keogh
Irish Independent


Controversy as Adare rezoning goes ahead

LIMERICK politicians last night voted through one of the most controversial land zonings outside of Dublin in the face of dire warnings of the legal risk they were taking for themselves and Limerick County Council.

By 12 votes to three (there were six abstentions) members of the county council ignored legal advice and amended the county manager’s Adare local area plan, rezoning more than 50 acres of agricultural land for housing.

Sites in Adare are among the most expensive in the country and, at the height of the boom, a prime half-acre plot fetched €1.3 million.

Last night’s rezoning will drive up the value of 50 acres from €2.5m to €25m. The council’s legal adviser, William Leahy, told the council members they could expose the council and themselves to compensation and surcharges as the land would now rise from €50,000 an acre to €500,000.

He said a developer could take action if, at a future time, An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission on land zoned by the council as residential.

Councillor John Clifford (FF), seconded by Councillor Richard Butler (FG), moved the amendment to rezone. Mr Clifford said they had good planning reasons to rezone as there was currently insufficient building land in Adare.

Adare councillor, James Cavanagh (FF) supported the rezoning and denied that it would harm the heritage of Adare. The other Adare council member, Councillor Rose Brennan (PD) was not present.

The council’s director of planning Tom Enright said the rezoning would not be in accordance with the proper planning of Adare, which he said was one of the most beautiful heritage towns in the country.

Shortly before the vote was called, Mr Leahy warned: “It is a legal decision you are taking today and I cannot emphasise enough how serious it is.”

County manager Ned Gleeson said if the councillors wanted to go ahead and rezone against advice, the decision must be grounded on proper planning.

As well as council management, the Department of the Environment also voiced its objection to the rezoning, as it “would have significant impacts on the setting of the historic town”.

Urban design consultants Nicholas de Jong in a report to the council, said lands already zoned for housing in Adare cover more than 120 acres and could accommodate up to 1,000 houses.

“This is equivalent to a population increase of around 2,600 persons, clearly far in excess of the requirements during the lifetime of the [Local Area] plan for Adare, up to 2014, and for the longer 20-year period,” the consultants advised in their report.

Irish Examiner


Docklands tax breaks ‘must be delivered’

THE Government must deliver a range of tax breaks in the budget to kickstart the multi-billion regeneration of Cork’s docklands, business leaders demanded last night.

Cork Chamber will unveil a detailed pre-budget submission today outlining what it says the Government must do to stimulate the nationally important project.

The deferral of tax and accelerated capital allowances are among the suggestions.

But, specifically, the chamber said tax breaks for developers building public infrastructure are crucial.

They said a 20% tax credit of the capital expenditure incurred by the provider of such infrastructure should be provided.

Developers Howard Holdings have proposed an €80 million Eastern Gateway Bridge as part of its Atlantic Gateway project. But other suggested tax breaks include:

n100% capital allowances for the construction of SEVESO facilities that re-locate from the docklands.

n100% capital allowances in the year of construction for capital expenditure on the remediation of contaminated sites.

nCapital gains taxation (CGT) roll-over relief for businesses which have to relocate.

n 100% write-off for capital expenditure for owner-occupiers in the docklands.

nAnd a package of measures to attract the R&D sector which is approved for EU State Aid purposes.

Maurice Minogue, chairman of the chamber’s budget working group, said a commitment to finance the development of the Eastern Gateway Bridge is essential.

“A professional cost-benefit analysis has proven that this would yield significant returns to the exchequer.”

Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said they were urging the Government to “consider providing the most strategic and open minded support” to unlock the potential of the docklands.

Cork’s lord mayor Brian Bermingham welcomed the chamber’s submission. “By unlocking the potential of the docks we can boost the city’s population and create massive employment opportunities in a sustainable way. This will benefit the entire southern region,” he said.

The city council’s blueprint for the 160 hectare docklands region envisages the development of a thriving urban waterfront.

The project has the potential to create thousands of construction jobs. The new “city” could accommodate a population of at least 15,000 and a working population of about 20,000.

Up to 6,000 homes will be built alongside more than 500,000 square metres of offices, educational institutions, retail outlets and culture and leisure facilities.

Howard Holdings have lodged a massive planning application for the site of the former Fords distribution centre. And Origin Enterprises are also planning to develop the R & H Halls site.

Business leaders were disappointed when docklands tax breaks were not included in last December’s budget.

Assurances were given at the time that future budgets would deal with the issue. However, with public finances collapsing, the October 14 budget is expected to be the toughest since 1983. Cuts of up to €1.5 billion are expected in what commentators have dubbed the “bloodbath” budget.

Irish Examiner


Monday 29 September 2008

Beara Planning

Michael O'Sullivan, who heads Beara Chamber of Commerce, claimed farmers would also find it increasingly difficult to build sheds and outhouses if the plan is adopted by the local authority.

He said the groups opposed to the move want the Special Scenic Landscape designation removed from the peninsula, as it would cause hardship and could lead to further migration from the area.

"It is imperative that the current planning restrictions are relaxed to reverse the decline in population being experienced in many areas of west Cork," Mr O'Sullivan said.

More than 80 people recently attended a meeting in Castletownbere to object to the proposals.

Mr O'Sullivan said there was genuine concern that the economy of the region would be affected if the proposed designation was passed.

However, the mayor of County Cork, Cllr Noel Harrington, has claimed that the designation will make it easier for people looking to build one-off housing to get planning permission, provided their sites were deemed suitable.

Cllr Harrington, who is based in Castletownbere, said he was supporting the proposals and urged objectors to enter into dialogue with the council.

Sean O'Riordan
Irish Examiner


Beara chamber opposes scenic designation plan

PLANS TO designate a peninsula in west Cork as a "special scenic landscape" could result in homebuyers avoiding the area because of problems with planning permission, a local chamber of commerce head has warned.

Chief executive of Beara Chamber of Commerce Michael O'Sullivan said the designation would make it difficult for local people to obtain planning permission, leading to depopulation in the peninsula.

"Our main concern is that the whole of the Beara Peninsula is being made a special scenic landscape. There hasn't been any consultation on this. If this goes ahead it will make it impossible for people to get planning permission."

Mr O'Sullivan said the proposals would also affect farmers because they would be unable to get planning permission for wind farms and sheds. Mr O'Sullivan was one of six members of the chamber and West Cork Irish Farmers' Association who travelled yesterday to County Hall in Cork to hand in a submission objecting to the local county council's proposals to adopt guidelines on housing in scenic areas.

Earlier this month about 75 people attended a meeting in Castletownbere organised to raise awareness of the proposals. Further meetings are planned next month.

Supporters of Cork County Council's proposed measures claim scenic coastal areas have to be protected.

The proposals reportedly allow anybody with a commitment to permanent residency to have the restrictions lifted.

The proposals are on display at council offices in Cork and on the council website www.corkcoco.ie

Irish Times


Shannon water protesters march on Dail

PROTESTERS LIVING in the Shannon river's catchment yesterday marched on the Dáil to oppose proposals to draw huge volumes of water from two Shannon lakes to supply Dublin.

Members of the Shannon Protection Alliance, which was founded to oppose the proposal to extract as much as 350 million litres a day from the Shannon to supply the capital, gathered outside the Dáil to seek political support.

Alliance spokesman PJ Walsh, who completed a 100-mile four-day protest march from Lough Ree, was joined by supporters from the Shannon region outside the Dáil. They called on the Minister for the Environment John Gormley to block any move to take water from the Shannon.

"We do not deny the right of Dublin citizens to have water, but we do object to the method by which Dublin City Council proposes to supply that water," said Mr Walsh. Dublin City Council has deemed that a new water source will be required for the capital by 2015 and that up to 350 million litres a day from this new source will be needed by 2031.

The chairman of the Save Our Lough Derg group, Joe O'Donoghue, said the focus on sourcing the supply for Dublin had switched from Lough Ree to Lough Derg over the past few months due to a vocal campaign spearheaded by communities in the Lough Ree catchment.

Mr O'Donoghue said they believed there were at least four locations on Lough Derg being looked at as extraction points. "If we get very dry summers, as is predicted by the experts, then extracting millions of gallons of water could cause major environmental hazards for fish and other aquatic life. Economically and ecologically, this would be a disaster for the whole midwest region."

The chairman of the Lough Derg Anglers' Association, Kevin Grimes, said there was a total absence of a national strategy for water extraction from rivers and lakes and no figures were available to indicate the possible profound consequences for the rich wildlife and fishhabitat of Loughs Derg and Ree and their tributaries.

"We are already trying very hard to save endangered fish species on Lough Derg such as pollan and gilaroo trout.

"Extracting such a huge volume of water from the lake could finally wipe out these species forever and threaten spawning conditions for trout and salmon in local rivers if waters went very low," said Mr Grimes.

Irish Times


Last-ditch effort to stop rezoning amid heritage fears

CONCERNED residents from Adare make a last- ditch effort today to try and persuade councillors not to rezone farmland for housing near the village.

Councillors in the Bruff electoral area, which covers Adare, have acceded to requests from land owners to rezone about 50 acres of farmland on the Limerick side of the village.

The move comes despite opposition from county manager Ned Gleeson and planners who fear it would damage its heritage appeal.

Councillors have a long-standing agreement to row in behind colleagues from any electoral area seeking support for rezoning.

The proposal will be voted on this afternoon when the Local Area Plan is brought before a special council meeting.

Unnamed developers have told councillors they will pay any costs if there are legal problems.

“We have lost the stopover at Shannon — do we now intend to lose the beautiful heritage village of Adare?,” The Save Adare Group said. Councillors supporting rezoning insist Adare needs affordable housing, borne out by the fact that only one member of the local senior hurling team resides in the village.

However the opposition countered saying: “We all agree affordable housing is first on the agenda, but ask yourself ‘are property developers going to pay massive money for land and then build affordable housing’? Rezoning is only suiting the property developers and not the people of Adare.”

There are two council members from Adare.

Cllr James Cavanagh (FF) supports the rezoning, Cllr Rose Brennan PD was abroad when the rezoning came before the regular monthly meeting last week.

If the rezoning goes through today, the Minister for the Environment John Gormley still has the power to block it.

Irish Examiner


Further Corrib gas delays will lead to power cuts in 2009

IRELAND faces the possibility of a natural gas shortage in the winter of 2009 if there are further delays to the controversial Corrib gas project, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has admitted.

The revelation comes as industry sources told the Sunday Tribune that its developer, Shell, needed "everything to go right for them" if it was to be commissioned during 2009.

Most now believe that the gas won't start flowing until 2010, given the project's long history of setbacks. The most recent of these came this month with the suspension of offshore pipelaying work after damage to the boat carrying out the work.

If this occurs, Ireland will be left with little headroom between gas supply and demand during 2009, according to the CER's official projections, raising the prospect of industrial users being cut off to conserve gas for homeowners.

Such a move could have a knock-on effect on electricity supplies as power stations are counted as large industrial users and would be among the first to be cut off. The country currently gets 55% of its power from natural gas.

Although the regulator insists that there will be no shortfall in supplies, it has admitted for the first time that gas supplies could be affected if the country was hit by a cold snap.

"In the extremely unlikely scenario of the coldest day in the coldest year for 50 years, and even then for a very short space of time (an hour at peak time) is there the potential for a very slight shortfall between supply and demand," said a spokesman.

Sunday Tribune


Menolly seeks rerouting of Dublin-Navan railway

A group of developers including Menolly Homes, Robert 'Pino' Harris, Eamon Duignan and John McCarthy are attempting to reroute the proposed Dublin-Navan railway line through land they own.

They hope to convince planners to route the line to the east of the fast-growing commuter town of Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, opening up 245 acres for residential development – the equivalent of around 2,470 houses.

This would increase the town's population from 3,384 in 2006 to around 15,000 by 2016, while the immediate rise in land values would give the developers' balance sheets an major boost.

The preferred route follows the path of the original railway, closed in 1963, which runs to the west of Dunshaughlin and is separated from the town by the M3.

The developers' proposal is almost identical to a route that was rejected by a previous Iarnród Eireann study because it would cost €55m more to build than restoring the old line, would attract reduced development contributions from builders and would entail added engineering challenges.

However, a consultants' report for the developers, seen by the Sunday Tribune, argues that, with minor modifications, the cost difference could be reduced to €17m.

It also states that, with the additional residential development, the rerouted line would provide Iarnród Eireann with higher passenger numbers than the old route.

"The additional 700 to 900 daily boardings achievable... providing a suitably located station at Dunshaughlin has the potential to increase the overall patronage by between 10.5% and 13.5%."

An Iarnrod Eireann spokeswoman said it was reviewing the report at the moment.

Sunday Tribune


Carroll came close to developing U2 tower in Dublin

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and developer Liam Carroll had talks about a joint development of the U2 tower site and Carroll's adjoining site at Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin, and went so far as to draw up a draft legal agreement in 2005 setting out the development plans for the sites. The agreement was never signed.

"The developer requires the Section 25 certificate which is to issue pursuant to the application... to allow a mixed-use development of 61,000 square metre gross internal area," the draft agreement stated.

"No deal was concluded," said a DDDA spokeswoman. She said the authority had no comment on why it agreed, at the developer's request, to a "direct agreement with any lending or funding institution or individuals providing finance to the developer".

Carroll took control of the site adjoining the U2 tower when he bought the then publicly-quoted Dunloe Ewart property company. He is now developing a new headquarters for State Street bank on part of the site.

The DDDA spokeswoman also said the authority had no comment on whether it still wants a connecting tunnel between the Dunloe and U2 sites, details of which are included in the draft agreement.

Reference was made to remediation works on the sites but the DDDA spokeswoman said that, because no deal was concluded, the question does not arise.

Work on the U2 tower has not yet begun. The Geranger consortium, comprising U2, Paddy McKillen and Ballymore, was chosen to develop the tower last October.

Sunday Tribune



WATERWAYS Ireland is to explore the commercial potential of the Dublin stretch of both the Royal and Grand Canals.

The All-Ireland body wants to identify, develop and deliver commercial, tourism and recreational projects for the canals as well as infrastructural investment required. Consultants are to carry out a study on the canals in conjunction with Dublin City Council, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and Failte Ireland.

"We want to develop not only the canals but the land surrounding them. Through the study we hope to draw up a development plan for what we call the Canal Corridor - that's the canal and surrounding land. We'll take into account all the related issues so we can proactively develop the area ," said Eanna Rowe of Waterways Ireland.

The Dublin city canals are mostly used for recreational activities such as boating, canoeing and rowing.

Lyndsay McGregor
Sunday Tribune


Airport to reapply for permission for runway after appeal rejection

Dublin Airport is to reapply for planning permission for a second runway after An Bord Pleanála rejected its appeal against operating restrictions.

The airport had sought to fast-track its appeal on the basis that the runway constituted strategic infrastructure, but the planning board did not agree and said the planning application should go back to Fingal County Council. The local council had imposed restrictions on the operation of the second runway between 6am and 7am, and 11pm and midnight.

Vincent Wall, director of communications at Dublin Airport Authority, told travel industry professionals at a TravelMedia lunch last week that the airport’s busiest time was between 6amand 7am. He said Aer Lingus and Ryanair, which were responsible for three-quarters of the traffic at the airport, needed to maximise the use of their fleets, as European airports were an hour ahead.

‘‘You have to build a motorway system for the rush hour, not for the middle of the afternoon,” Wall said.

Wall said the airport was now the 14th-busiest in the world and would handle about 24million passengers this year, compared with 11.8 million in 1998. Last month, 2.3 million passengers passed through the airport, which handled up to 93,000 passengers on its busiest days.

Overall, passenger traffic to the end of August was up 4 per cent, with transatlantic traffic up 25 per cent - largely due to the EU’s new Open Skies policy. ‘‘In 2003, no Poles flew direct from Poland to Dublin,” said Wall. ‘‘This year, one million have come.”

Wall also said that new security channels would be introduced for business travellers when Terminal Two opened in spring 2010. Construction of the new terminal began on October 1 last year, and is proceeding on schedule.

The number of security channels in the airport is likely to rise from 18 to 25 with the opening of the new terminal. There will also be dedicated security channels for families, with play areas for children in the new terminal lounge.

Sunday Business Post


Group challenges Meath council’s area plan

Seventeen developers and landowners in Meath will lodge a joint submission tomorrow urging the local council to revise a controversial area development plan.

All members of the group - who own an estimated 300 acres in the area - have an interest in what are known as the Bryanstown lands.

Those lands had been earmarked for possible development in a major regional planning strategy.

The recent plan, however, reversed that earlier decision. The new plan has also earmarked lands for fast-track development which were previously designated for long-term development.

A number of serious allegations regarding the way in which the planning authority has operated were made to the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, and minister of state Dick Roche.

Dublin developer Bill Doyle has threatened to take a High Court action over the affair, and Roche wrote to environment minister John Gormley urging him to instigate a probe.

In his letter, Roche said that the proposals which the council came up with clearly disadvantaged some land owners in the area.

Roche, a former environment minister, accused the council of behaving in an ‘‘inexplicable’’ fashion.

The future of Drogheda United FC may also hinge on the final decision.

The club’s management had finalised plans with property developer Bill Doyle, who was to build a new €35 million, 10,000-seater stadium on a site in Bryanstown, in exchange for the club’s existing stadium at United Park.

However, those plans and the proposal to build a link road through the area will be scuppered by the proposed South Drogheda Environs local area plan, which zoned a sizeable part of the Bryanstown area for open space and light industrial use.

Drogheda United, Doyle and a number of Bryanstown landowners claim they were given repeated assurances by the council that it supported the proposed stadium and the rezoning the lands for residential use.

‘‘It was on that basis that we paid €120,000 for the preparation of an area action plan,” said one landowner. ‘‘That was done in consultation with the council in 2003,yetwe have faced continuous obstacles.”

Sunday Business Post


Church not told of UNESCO heritage bid

A GOVERNMENT department failed to tell the Church of Ireland landowners of Clonmacnoise monastery that they were applying for World Heritage status for the historic site.

And residents living near the sixth century site said they received "little or no information" about the approach to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Hundreds of people living in Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly, and surrounding villages have signed a petition demanding to be properly consulted by the Department of the Environment on the bid.

They are worried that a clampdown on planning, farming and burial practices could follow if the monastery receives approval as a World Heritage Site.

"If they wanted the heritage site to proceed properly, they might have first written to us and consulted us -- but it all seems to have been done in undue haste," said Rev Graham Doyle at a public meeting in Clonmacnoise.

"I would like their bid to be successful; but I would also like to say if the bid were successful, something has got to happen about the management of the site which does not infringe upon the rights of the local community or the Church."

Rev Doyle added that there would be a need for a "major rethink" on car parking and access roads that bring tourists to the ancient monastery.

"Because they've not consulted us, I don't know what the end result will be on our community. We (Church of Ireland) have a stake in this and our building is worth just under €1m," he added.

The Department of the Environment has proposed implementing a 'protection zone' around the ancient site -- which stretches into counties Offaly, Westmeath and Roscommon -- and its implications are not yet known.

Eimear Ni Bhraonain
Irish Independent


€5m plan to map flood risk

A 3-D map of Dublin city is to be created showing how water flows through the capital's streets to help officials avoid the widespread flooding which hit the city in August.

The ambitious €5m project will show officials the route water takes, and allow them to plan installation of gullies and drains so the water can be removed from the city's streets without causing chaos.

And it will result in developers having to design housing schemes with fewer hard surfaces, which siphon water on to public roads, and with more green areas.

City engineer Tom Leahy said yesterday that "radical" measures would have to be taken to avoid the devastating floods which left parts of the city underwater earlier this year.

"The drainage system in Ireland was built up over time," he said. "The standards were to deal with a normal storm, but we're now at a situation where weather patterns are changing. The amount of rain falling has remained static for years, but it's falling in more intense bursts.

"The 3-D modelling is very advanced, and has never been done elsewhere on the same scale.

"The new thinking is to avoid putting water into the river, but to provide surface routes. We need to think in a radically different way.

"You're more likely to be flooded at the top of a hill because you're more exposed. If you're planning anything, no longer is there low and high risk. Fluvial (river) flooding can hit anywhere, the risks have to be assessed."


The project, part of an EU-wide Flood Resilient Cities Project, would divide the city into cells and use radar to map each area. Half the €5m cost will be funded by the EU.

For example, in Christchurch water naturally flows down Fishamble Street and into the River Liffey, but it could take a left -- depending on the ground conditions -- and go into the basement of Dublin City Council. The council is also to invest in new high-capacity pumps for use during flood events.

"We're looking at purchasing high-capacity pumps which can pump water 3km away," Mr Leahy said. "You can drive at 30kph and the hose comes out the back. Very few parts of the city are more than 3km from the sea or a river. They cost €1.5m each."

The mapping will show the 'at risk' areas across the city, and could result in a ban on use of tarmac and brick pavements, as they allow water to flow out on the road.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent


Plan refused for 60 flats at helicopter crash site

THE owner of a hotel into which a helicopter crashed just over a week ago has been refused planning permission to demolish the building and erect 60 apartments.

The pilot of a privately owned Sikorsky S76 miraculously escaped when the helicopter crash-landed in the car park of the Neptune Hotel and Leisure complex in Bettystown, Co Meath, and burst into flames yards from Colaiste na hInse secondary school, which is housed in the building, on September 18.

But yesterday the hotel's owner Denis Reddan received further bad news when An Bord Pleanala refused his request for permission to demolish the building to make way for apartments. The five-storey scheme would have included nine retail units, two offices and 179 underground parking spaces.

Meath County Council had refused permission for the scheme and An Bord Pleanala yesterday confirmed that decision, claiming the "scale and height" of the plan would "detract" from the town centre.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent


Oral hearing on Clare golf club plans

CLARE COUNTY Council has announced that it is to hold an oral hearing into contentious plans to extinguish a right of way across the 4th and 14th fairways at the €150 million Doonbeg golf resort.

The move by the council is the latest bid to resolve a long-running row over the disputed vehicular right of way that has involved two separate High Court actions.

However, the plan to extinguish the right of way is facing opposition from senior members of Clare County Council, including Clare's mayor, Cllr Madeleine Taylor Quinn (FG).

In one of 16 submissions on the proposal to eliminate the right of way, Cllr Taylor Quinn is proposing that a tunnel be built under the course to provide access to the beach.

Cllr Taylor Quinn is supported by leader of the council's Fianna Fáil group, Cllr PJ Kelly who said that a pre-cast tunnel under the fairway would be the best solution.

The move that sparked the current dispute was Doonbeg golf club erecting in 2004 a 2m high wall across the disputed right of way in 2004. One year later, An Bord Pleanála ruled that the golf club acted illegally in building the wall without planning permission.

As a result, the council issued Doonbeg golf club with a warning letter over the construction of the wall. However, a stay was put on the action following Doonbeg golf club applying for judicial review proceedings of An Bord Pleanála decision.

The compromise solution now put forward by the council involves the disputed right of way being extinguished and it being replaced with an alternative right of way close to the existing one.

The oral hearing is to take place in Doonbeg on October 1st and 2nd next at Doonbeg community hall.

A spokesman for Doonbeg golf club said yesterday that the club is pleased that the oral hearing is to be held.

The Irish Times


Oral hearing against Beacon hospital plan

THE ORAL hearing into a proposed €242 million co-located private hospital in Cork begins today. Beacon Medical Group (BMG) intends to build a 185-bed private hospital on the Cork University Hospital (CUH)campus.

The hospital would create 511 full-time jobs, it is claimed.

The plan was given the go ahead by Cork City Council in March despite 140 objections from a number of local residents and area politicians including Green Party Senator Dan Boyle, Cllr Chris O’Leary and Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry.

Senator Boyle said the location of the hospital was ill advised because of the “considerable existing difficulties in terms of parking and traffic in the Wilton area”. The list of objectors to the project also included two Fianna Fáil TDs, Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin and Michael McGrath, who said they were objecting because local infrastructure would not be able to cope. Mr Martin said the project wasn’t sustainable on the Wilton campus.

Opponents to the project have also expressed concern about the scale and density of the five-storey building on the medical campus as well as anxiety about possible increases in traffic levels.

However, BMG has repeatedly stated its commitment to working with local politicians and residents in Wilton/Bishop- stown to implement measures to alleviate traffic concerns at the CUH campus.

An Bord Pleanála has scheduled a four-day oral hearing at the Cork International Airport Hotel for the appeal against the granting of planning permission for the hospital.

Parties expected to give evidence at the hearing include the Laburnum/Wilton Residents Association, former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Christine O’Malley, Beacon Medical Group and local politicians.

The Beacon Medical Group was founded by cardio-thoracic surgeon Prof J Mark Redmond and businessmen Michael Cullen and Paddy Shovlin in 2002.

A decision on the project is not expected until November. Co-location is a Government policy of developing private hospitals on the grounds of public hospitals.

The aim is to enable private patients to ‘migrate’ from public hospitals on the same site, freeing up capacity for public patients.

The Irish Times


Neighbour appeals Flatley home refusal

A NEIGHBOURING landowner and property developer has appealed the decision by Kerry Co Council to refuse the dancer Michael Flatley permission to build a large cottage on an island in Kenmare Bay, Co Kerry.

However, Mr Flatley of Castlehyde, Fermoy, Co Cork has not appealed the decision by the council last month to turn down his application for what his consultants described as "a modest" 9,100sq ft cottage on a 56 acre-site on the eastern tip of Rossmore Island. It is understood the appeal is without the dancer's consent.

The island, between Sneem and Kenmare, is connected by bridge to the mainland. The house is intended as a second home for Mr Flatley. The proposal for an L-shaped structure, included guest and staff quarters as well as substantial family quarters, courtyard, fountain and garages. It would have seen the demolition of an existing farmhouse.

In August, planners refused the application because of design, scale and visibility, as well as contravention of the Kerry County Development Plan.

Frank Fallon, who is renovating a property on Rossmore Island, has made a lengthy submission to An Bord Pleanála, arguing the refusal should be overturned.

Mr Fallon, who has an address at Newtownshandrom, Charleville, Co Cork and is also based in London, has told the board the project would inject a huge amount of enthusiasm and culture into the local area.

Mr Flatley and his family would provide much needed local employment, he claimed.

"Quite honestly I am absolutely astonished and equally underwhelmed that Kerry Co Council could possibly allow such a valued client to slip through their fingers," Mr Fallon writes.

A spokesman for Mr Fallon said his client would like to ensure Mr Flatley got permission for the land next door to himself. Mr Fallon also wanted some issues clarified, he said.

The Irish Times


Impact of Ballsbridge scheme 'minimal', hearing told

The combined effect on traffic of Sean Dunne’s development on the former Jury's and Berkeley Court hotels site in Ballsbridge and the proposed high density scheme on the neighbouring Veterinary College site would be “minimal”, An Bord Pleanála has been told.

Developer Ray Grehan of Glenkerrin Homes is seeking to build a 15-storey tower, apartments, office blocks, shops and cultural centre on a 40,000sq m site adjacent to the hotels site. The development was the subject of an oral hearing earlier this year and is currently awaiting the decision of the board.

Mr Dunne’s traffic expert Donal McDaid of Arup consulting this morning told the An Bord Pleanála hearing on the hotel site development, which also includes plans for offices, apartment, shops and cultural buildings, that he had analysed the combined traffic from both sites.

“The relative cumulative impact is minimal in terms of the average length of queuing and the degree of saturation, that is the ratio of flow to capacity on the road.”

Mr McDaid was replying to cross examination from Dublin City Council’s legal representative John Gallagher, who asked if the roads surrounding the site were already at capacity.

Mr McDaid said that in his view they were not.

There were some “flash periods” of congestion but the city council had the technology to deal with this through its traffic control systems and could in the future “penalise” the development’s traffic in favour of vehicles using the main routes from the city.



Conservation expert denies bias

THE LEGAL representative for 21 appellants opposing Sean Dunne’s plans for Ballsbridge has accused a conservation expert engaged by Mr Dunne of lacking impartiality and “holding a brief for the developer”.

Architect David Slattery wrote the architectural conservation report submitted as part of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for Mr Dunne’s planning application.

Counsel for 21 local residents opposing the development, Colm Mac Eochaidh told the An Bord Pleanála hearing on the scheme that under the rules of the EIS process the conservation report must consider negative impacts of a development as well as positive and neutral impacts. However Mr Slattery had ignored any potential negative impacts of the scheme, he said.

Mr Slattery in his report had emphasised the negative impact on the area’s architectural heritage of the 1960s and 1970s buildings on and near the site, and had used this to justify Mr Dunne’s development, Mr Mac Eochaidh said. He had not considered the negative impact of Mr Dunne’s development, but had written a “partial, limited, client-serving” report, he said.

“You were holding a brief for the developer,” Mr Mac Eochaidh said. “That is almost offensive,” Mr Slattery replied.

Mr Mac Eochaidh asked if Mr Slattery felt he had been completely independent in writing his report. “In any sense were you seeking to promote the merit of Mr Dunne’s proposal?” he asked.

Mr Slattery said he had been completely impartial in writing his report.

Mr Mac Eochaidh suggested that Mr Slattery’s services had been engaged too late in the process to have any influence over the development.

“When an expert is brought in at the end of the process impartiality is a problem. If you said ‘this is a terrible proposition for the Pepper Canister Church [on Mount Street]’ they couldn’t lop off a couple of storeys two weeks before the planning application was made. You were consulted too late.” Mr Slattery said it might have been more valuable if he had been consulted at an earlier stage. However, he said that did not affect the integrity of his report.

“What is most important is that my impartiality has not in any way been compromised.”

Earlier the hearing was told that the combined effect on traffic of Sean Dunne’s development and the proposed high-density scheme on the neighbouring Veterinary College site would be “minimal”.

Developer Ray Grehan is seeking to build a 15-storey tower, apartments, office blocks, shops and cultural centre adjacent to the hotel site. The development was the subject of an oral hearing earlier this year and is awaiting the decision of the board.

Mr Dunne’s traffic expert, Donal McDaid of Arup Consulting, said the impact on congestion would be minimal.

The Irish Times


Leisure centre nightclub and Dracula site face demolition

THE OWNERS of a leisure centre on Clontarf Road, Dublin, may have to demolish extensive portions of the premises on foot of a decision by An Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for their retention.

Westwood Leisure Centre had sought retrospective approval to retain numerous alterations and extensions to the premises, including a licensed nightclub known as Bar Code, which local residents maintain is a constant source of noise and nuisance.

The appeals board upheld Dublin City Council's decision to grant permission for the retention of elements of the complex, including a health clinic, entrance lobby, offices and storage on the basis that these were ancillary to its use as a leisure centre.

But the board upheld the council's decision to refuse permission for other extensions which were all built without planning approval.

The board specified in its ruling that the elements being retained "shall not be used at any time for the sale or consumption of intoxicating liquor".

The board also refused permission to Templeville Developments Ltd, owners of the Westwood complex, which boasts that it provided Ireland's first 50-metre swimming pool, to retain a Bram Stoker museum called the "Dracula Experience".

The leisure centre is located near Marino Crescent, where Dracula author Bram Stoker was born.

Templeville Developments, which is controlled by businessman Phillip Smyth, also operates leisure centres in Leopardstown and Sandymount.

Local residents have opposed Bar Code's licence and monthly special exemptions in the District Court. The Garda also opposed these exemptions on two recent occasions and Dublin City Council opposed the yearly licence renewal last year, all without success.

Residents of Clontarf Road, lower Howth Road and Marino Crescent told the board they can clearly hear the "thud, thud, bang, bang beat of amplified disco/rave/techno music four nights a week, waking our children and disrupting family life, resulting in severe sleep deprivation".

They also complained of "chaos" when the nightclub finally closes its doors after 2.30am, disgorging up to 1,300 young people, most of whom have been drinking for several hours, onto the junction of Clontarf Road and Howth Road in search of taxis.

One local resident, Stephen Moran, told An Bord Pleanála that this "causes incredible traffic noise and congestion with a cacophony of cars horns screeching, cat calling, doors banging, screaming and singing as patrons weave their way across the road.

"Sometimes, there can be a shortage of taxis or people linger during summertime or else set off on foot up the Howth Road or along the Crescent, urinating, vomiting, overturning bins, fighting, breaking wing mirrors, singing and shouting as they go," said Mr Moran.

"The waste of Garda time, manpower and scarce resources in policing this unauthorised development is also worth noting as Clontarf Garda station confirm that it requires five uniformed gardaí and a Garda sergeant and a wagon to police Bar Code four nights a week," he said.

An Bord Pleanála planning inspector Fiona Fair recommended that all of the unauthorised elements of the Westwood Leisure Centre which Templeville Developments was seeking to retain should be refused on the basis of its planning history and local objections.

"It appears that the proposed development relates to a site, the use of which is unauthorised, for the carrying on of 'Bar Code', a licensed premises for the sale and consumption of alcoholic liquor," she said, adding that any retention would consolidate this use.

Although the board decided to grant retrospective permission for uses ancillary to the leisure centre as well as one of a total of 15 shipping containers on the site - used to house a combined heat and power plant - it rejected other elements, including Bar Code.

"When taken in conjunction with existing permitted development, [this would] constitute over-development of the site and would be contrary to zoning objective Z9 'to protect, provide and improve recreation amenity and open space'," the board said.

Efforts to contact Templeville Developments for comment on An Bord Pleanála's decision were unsuccessful.

The Irish Times


Backers claim co-located hospital will mean more beds for public patients

PROMOTERS OF a new €242 million co-located private hospital in Cork yesterday promised that it would free up beds in Cork University Hospital, but opponents of the plan claimed it will lead to serious traffic congestion and parking problems in the area.

An Bord Pleanála began the oral hearing yesterday into the proposal by the Beacon Medical Group for a six storey 183-bed private hospital at the northeastern corner of the grounds of Cork University Hospital (CUH) in Wilton on Cork’s southside.

According to Beacon, the proposed hospital will comprise 175 single rooms and eight critical care unit beds and six operating theatres along with full diagnostics incorporating almost €26 million worth of new generation equipment as well as 713 car spaces of which 390 are new. The proposed hospital will be operated under the terms of a joint initiative by Beacon and its US partner, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre which has revenues of nearly $7 billion (€4.7 billion) and currently operates the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Dublin.

Tom Finn, project director HSE co-location initiative, said that the Beacon hospital will be required to accept all patients from public hospitals on a 24/7 basis while it will also be required to provide all services currently available at CUH.

He said there are currently some 3,357 staff working at CUH and Cork University Maternity Hospital while the Beacon hospital will bring another 500 staff on to the site, but the maximum that will be on the campus at any one time will be 2,230 because many will be working shifts.

The aim of the co-location policy was to free up some 1,000 beds for public patients and the HSE looked at a number of hospitals in the Cork area but CUH was the only one to meet all the criteria in terms of its strategic position within the overall acute services and private bed stock.

CUH orthopaedic surgeon Dr Mark Dolan said the hospital is working beyond its capacity and more single room beds which minimise the risk of infection are required. The co-located hospital is the only way to provide the extra facilities in as short a time as possible, he said.

Green Party councillor Chris O’Leary said the Beacon facility would add significantly to traffic problems in an area which is already congested, resulting in unauthorised parking which would disrupt local residents.

Mr O’Leary said the development would take up valuable space on a site which is restricted by an Irish Aviation Authority guidance that requires no further development on the main route for Cork Airport which runs over the western side of the campus.

Eamon Cashell, chairman of the Laburnum/Wilton Residents Association, told the hearing that the choice of site within the CUH campus was the farthest from the hospital entrance on Bishopstown Road and thus likely to lead to greater traffic.

It was also the site closest to houses and while Beacon had laid great emphasis on the design, it remained a large structure being 153m long and 23m high. “Its sheer scale outside our back doors that causes our angst that has us here today,” he said.

Cllr Mick Barry of the Socialist Party questioned who would control the buildings and lands in the event of the collapse of the project at some future date. He asked whether the banks could end up controlling the development.

The Irish Times


Ballsbridge architect accused of 'cynical' design

The Danish architect behind Sean Dunne’s high-rise tower for Ballsbridge was today accused of being “cynical” in his design of the site.

Ulrik Rysse of Hennig-Larsen designed the mixed-use commercial, residential and office development, which included a 37-storey, 136-metre tower for the site of the former Jury’s and Berkeley Court hotels.

Mr Rysse told the the An Bord Pleanala hearing on the development that he had originally designed a 32-storey, 119-metre tower for the site because Dublin Spire architect Ian Ritchie was on the judging panel for the Ballsbridge scheme.

Mr Rysse thought that Mr Ritchie would not choose a building taller than the Spire.

Michael O’Donnell, counsel for billionaire businessman Dermot Desmond, who opposes the development, said that Mr Rysse was more motivated by placating judges than design principles.

“The motivation guiding you was the most cynical of exercises merely to placate one of the adjudicators,” Mr O’Donnell said.

Mr Rysse said he merely had regard for the Spire as a possible idea for heights in Dublin.

The hearing continues.



Locals appeal 178 homes in D9

WENSTON PROPERTIES faces a challenge from All Hallows Area Association over its proposal to build 178 apartments in eight blocks at Carberry Road off Glandore Road, Dublin 9.

The directors of Wenston Properties are Liam Mounsey and Thomas Farrell. In its appeal to An Bord Pleanála the association says the apartment block doesn't blend in with local houses and says there is a lack of recreational space for apartment dwellers. They also maintain the scheme isn't child-friendly as some communal space is "beside the entrance/exit road on site".

The Irish Times


Farnham plan appealed

AN TAISCE has appealed a proposal by Derrygid Ltd for 52 houses at Farnham Demesne, Co Cavan.

It says the proposal would contravene the provision of the Granada Convention, the European Landscape Convention and the Florence charter with regard to historic landscapes and says the parkland is an inextricable part of Farnham's character. It says the development capacity of the estate "has already been exceeded".

An appeal by Paddock Residents Association at Farnham says: "We would submit that these, as yet unoccupied houses, do not appear to meet any identifiable need for housing in a rural area."

Irish Times


Development guide

A selective guide to developments in your area

An Bord Pleanala


Location: Farnham, Derrygid, Paddock, Drumullan and Drumlaunaght, Co Cavan. Proposed development: 52 houses and site works. Farnham House, gate lodge demesne wall and grand gates are protected structures. Applicant: Derrygid Ltd. Appellant(s): George Tutty, An Taisce, Farnham Residents Association.

Location: site at Carberry Road, (off Glandore Road), Dublin 9. Proposed development: 178 residential units, crèche and site works. Applicant: Wenston Properties Ltd. Appellant(s): All Hallows Area Association.

Location: lands at Leeson Lane and Quinns Lane, Dublin 2. Proposed development: 290-room hotel and relocation within the site of former dispensary building and all site works. Applicant: Holbein Development Ltd. Appellant(s): Corgreen Estates Management Ltd.

Location: River House, 21-25 Chancery street, Dublin 7. Proposed development: office building from seven to 11 storeys with 21 car-parking spaces and site works. Applicant: Linders of Smithfield Ltd. Appellant(s): Bill Duggan, Danny Pender, An Taisce, Michael and Marie Hughes.

Location: Rosary Lane, Pollnarooma East, Galway. Proposed development: 122 residential units, crèche and car-parking. The site contains protected structures. Applicant: Sisters of Mercy - Western Province. Appellant(s): Devon Court Residents Association, Mairead Coneely and Joe Maguire, Scoil Rois Parents Association, Devon Gardens and Devon Park Residents Association, CGH Management Company Ltd, Frank Graham and Anne Graham, Marie and Michael Ruane, Sybil Curley and MacCon Keane, Bernadette Gannon, Catherine and Michael Brennan, An Taisce (Galway Association), Peter Crowley, Sisters of Mercy.

Location: Tralee Racecourse, Ballybeggan, Tralee, Co Kerry. Proposed development: neighbourhood centre of four retail units, convenience store, bar, 91 residential units, GAA stadium and site works. Applicant: John Casey Project Management Ltd. Appellant(s): Eddie Barrett, Nora King.

Location: former Nemo Rangers GAA ground, South Douglas Road and Former FCA premises, Douglas Road, Cork. Proposed development: 78 houses, 28 apartments, two ESB stations, re-alignment of exit of laneway to rear of Beechwood Place. Applicant: John Fleming. Appellant(s): Colin Murray, Brian and Joan Lynch and others, Gus O'Carroll, Byron Treacy, Michael and Gillian O'Shea, Kenny Group Cork, Eva O'Sullivan, Eva and Louise Andrews.


Location: 55 & 57 Naas Road, Dublin 12 (protected structure). Proposed development: demolish extension and shed for office extension and new apartment building comprising 10 units and alter and extend No. 57 to comprise two apartments. Applicant: John Cousins (with conditions).

Location: Clyde House, Raglan House, Elgin House and Anglesea House, Dublin 4. Proposed development: refurbish, alter and extend four residential blocks for 20 apartments and site works. New two-storey building with two two-bed and two one-bed apartments. Applicant: Ballsbridge Court Management (with conditions).

Location: Grattan Lodge access road, off Hole in the Wall Road, Dublin 13. Proposed development: 41 dwellings and site works. Applicant: Gannon Homes Ltd (with revised conditions)

Location: 25/27 Drumcondra Road Upper, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. Proposed development: 50 apartments, retail unit and site works. Applicant: Glencullen Developments Ltd (with revised conditions).


Location: lands fronting onto Bridge Street, Balbriggan, Co Dublin. Proposed development: demolish all buildings on site for 41 retail units, an office/medical centre, 49 residential units and site works. Applicant: Millbank Developments Ltd.

Location: Malahide Road and Baskin Lane, Kinsaley, Barony of Coolock, Co Dublin. Proposed development: 30 detached and semi-detached houses and site works. Applicant: Alhans Ltd.

Location: AIB Bankcentre, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Proposed development: block to east of Block F comprising office and ancillary floor space and site works. Applicant: AIB Plc.

Location: site known as C and D, Western Retail Park, Blanchardstown centre, Coolmine, Dublin 15. Proposed development: eight-storey retail and commercial development. Applicant: Green Property Ltd.

Location: lands to the east of Kinsealy Lane, Malahide, Co Dublin. Proposed development: 90 houses, crèche and site works. Applicant: Birchwell Ltd.

Location: Donaghy's Mill, Trinity Street, Drogheda, Co Louth (protected structures). Proposed development: 82 residential units, crèche, restaurant/café, non-retail service unit, offices and site works. Applicant: The Donaghy's Mill Co Ownership.

Location: Priory Demesne, Templemore, Co Tipperary. Proposed development: 280 housing units and site works. Applicant: James Cummins and Michael Walsh.

Dublin City Council


Location: The Walled Garden, Ashtown Visitor Centre, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8 (protected structure). Proposed development: reconstruct single storey horticultural buildings for public exhibition use; reconstruct horticultural greenhouses; reconstruct conservatory; re-open blocked-up gateway. Applicant: The Commissioners of Public Works.

Location: former Grand Cinema, 396-402 Collins Avenue, Whitehall, Dublin 9. Proposed development: demolish former cinema and retain front façade for two ground floor retail units, 16 residential units (two one-bed, eight two-bed and six three-bed units) and underground car-parking for 32 cars. Applicant: Cowra.

Location: Brickfield Lane, Dublin 8. The proposed development involves two separate sites at either end of Brickfield Lane, one at the junction with Cork Street and the other at the junction with Brown Street South. Proposed development: demolish all structures on sites (with the exception of the western rubble boundary wall forming part of the adjoining Bru Chaiomhin complex - protected structure). Brickfield Lane/Cork Street: single building of one to eight storeys with 127 aparthotel units, restaurant, gym and ancillary uses. Brickfield Lane/Brown Street South: six-storey science and technology/office facing onto Brown Street South with a ground floor retail unit and reception area. Adjoining five to eight-storey building of 365 one-bed units of student accommodation fronting onto Brickfield Lane. Applicant: Ely Navan Accommodation Services Ltd.


Location: Northern Corner of Dubh Linn Garden, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2 (protected structure). Proposed development: new garden at the northern corner of the Dubh Linn Garden to be a universally accessible garden consisting of three stone walls, entrances, stone paving, pool and water feature, sculpture wall and retaining walls. The garden built in 1994 in the northern corner will be removed and replaced by this new garden. Applicant: The Commissioners of Public Works.

Location: site to north and south and including Cammock River, 6 Kilmainham Lane, 5 Auburn Terrace, former Irish Cone and Wafer premises and rear of 1-4 Auburn Terrace, Kilmainham, Dublin 8. Proposed development: demolish 6 Kilmainham Lane, the former Irish Cone and Wafer premises and ancillary buildings including an office block off Shannon Terrace for 58 apartments in two blocks, A and B, that are seven storeys. New bridge over the Cammock River. New riverside public open space. Provision of 40 car-parking spaces at ground floor level; landscaping and site works. Applicant: Henry Farrell and Brendan Lawless.

Location: 27-31 Church Street, Dublin 7. Proposed development: eight-storey office block to Church Street and a four-storey office block to the rear linked by a central glazed atrium. Double height entrance to the office area, two retail units and a car ramp access gate at ground floor level onto Church Street. Applicant: Anguila Developments Ltd.

Location: The Baker, Cross Guns Bridge, Phibsborough Road, Dublin 7. Proposed development: demolish buildings on site for scheme from two to 13 storeys over two basement levels and comprising 148 residential units, 35 medical consulting suites, crèche, café and gym. These facilities are within three elements. The first: residential building comprising four blocks with a height of eight storeys and located along the northern site boundary consisting of 115 residential units, community room and management office. The second: three-storey townhouses comprising own door apartments to provide 33 residential units, crèche at ground and first floor levels. The third: 13-storey building in the north-eastern portion of the site for 35 medical consultancy suites, reception area, café and gym. The development also includes two basement levels comprising 304 car-parking spaces, landscaping and site works. Applicant: Stateford Ltd.

South Dublin


Location: Stewarts Sports Hall, Stewarts Hospital, Palmerstown, Dublin 20 (protected structure). Proposed development: demolish part of sports centre for a two-storey entrance hall, new single storey exhibition space over the sports centre (swimming pool) accessed from the new entrance hall and including new exhibition area, storage space, new fire escape stairs and windows to swimming pool, landscaping and site works. Applicant: Stewarts Foundation Ltd.


Location: Adamstown, Lucan, Co Dublin. Proposed development: 121 dwellings (111 two and three-bed apartments and 10 three-bed duplex units in 11 two, three, four and five-storey blocks) all being a part of Phase 2B of an overall development known as The Paddocks at Airlie Stud, Adamstown. The plan also includes a crèche in a separate one and two-storey building, site works, landscaping and parking. Applicant: Maplewood Developments.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown


Location: Tayanglet, Brennanstown Road, Cabinteely, Dublin 18. Proposed development: 10 two-storey detached houses of 503sq m (5,414sq ft), one two-storey detached house of 342sq m (3,681sq ft), one detached two-storey house of 487sq m (5,242sq ft) and two pairs of semi-detached houses of 240sq m (2,583sq ft) each, site works and landscaping. Applicant: RGIAGC Partnership.

Location: Broadlands, Ballinclea Road, Killiney, Co Dublin. Proposed development: demolish house and outbuildings for three detached houses, 22 semi-detached houses and four terraced houses (11 three-bed units and 18 four-bed units), landscaping and site works. Applicant: O'Flynn Construction.


Location: Stradbrook Lodge, Stradbrook Road, Monkstown, Co Dublin. Proposed development: demolish dwelling for two dwellings with site works. Applicant: Sorohan Builders Ltd.



Location: 112 Dublin Road, Sutton, Dublin 13. Proposed development: two to five-storey apartment block of 36 units (two one-beds, 33 two-beds and one three-bed); provision of 60 car-parking spaces, landscaping and site works. Applicant: Niall Molloy.


Location: South Strand, Skerries, Co Dublin. Proposed development: residential development on a site of 0.089 hectares consisting of one block from two to three storeys with 11 apartments (one one-bed, nine two-bed and one three-bed duplex unit); provision of 11 car-parking spaces and site works. Applicant: Golden South Strand Partnership.


Location: lands within the Curtilage of Hollywood Rath House, Hollystown, Dublin 15. Proposed development: seven-year planning permission for 96 residential units (12 four-bed detached units, eight three-bed semi-detached units, 64 four-bed semi-detached units and 12 three-bed terraced units). Provision of one single storey crèche, 205 surface car-parking spaces, landscaping and site works. Applicant: Seamus and Bridget McCaghy.

The Irish Times


GAA stadium at Tralee racecourse site appealed

A PROPOSAL to build a new GAA stadium at Ballybeggan racecourse in Tralee, Co Kerry has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

The stadium is part of a wider proposal by John Casey Project Management for a neighbourhood centre consisting of four retail units, a convenience store, bar and 91 residential units.

The stadium would have a full size pitch and viewing stands and terracing to accommodate 9,000 people, match-day kiosks, hospitality suites, medical and function rooms, a media room, office block and 1,355 ancillary car-parking spaces. However, one appellant, Nora P King with an address at Clash West, Tralee, said she has concerns over its proposed location within the 41-hectare Ballybeggan Park.

She lives adjacent to the racecourse and her landholding has planning permission for 350 residential units which, she says, would be affected by the stadium.

She says the proposed stadium, which is on an elevated site at the southern end of the Ballybeggan development, will generate noise, pollution, litter, floodlighting will create glare and the stadium "will invite anti-social behaviour and will furthermore affect the visual amenity of the area". She also submitted an article by a member of Croke Park's Residents Association on the negative aspects of living near a GAA stadium.

She says Kerry County Council "instructed the developers not to locate the stadium at the northern side of the park as it would affect existing residential development there. Should this not apply also to the proposed residential development of my lands?"

Stating that 1,355 car-parking spaces is insufficient and would lead to nuisance and illegal parking "as already happens on match days with traffic emanating from the existing Austin Stacks stadium.

The proposed new stadium would be nearer to my property than the existing Austin Stacks park stadium."

Another appeal from Eddie Barrett, also from Tralee, asks that the stadium, town park and neighbourhood centre "be incorporated within the inner area of the racecourse so as not to interfere with the existing running rack".

The Irish Times


Bord rejects extension to AIB's Bankcentre

AN OFFICE block proposed as the third phase of the AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 has been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála because it says it would constitute overdevelopment of the site.

AIB was looking to build a new eight-storey office block with 18,600sq m (200,210sq ft) of space which would have had access from Serpentine Avenue.

Five parties appealed the office block to the planning board including the Serpentine Consortium, a group of private individuals asssembled by the bank and its stockbroking arm Goodbody who bought part of the Bankcentre site three years ago for over €360 million as part of a sale and leasback deal.

The consortium, which owns four of the blocks developed in phase two of the Bankcentre, is saying in its appeal that the proposed block is too close to two of its blocks and would have a severe impact on their natural light.

It also said that a proposal to reduce the parking provision by 70 spaces is inappropriate given the scale of the development.

Dr Noel O'Connor and Elaine O'Connor, who live on Serpentine Avenue, said the proposal constituted a vast increase in plot size from the original 33,000sq m (355,210sq ft) to 88,000sq m (947,223sq ft) and would involve an over-reliance on the access from Serpentine Avenue "which is located in a dangerous position".

Among the concerns of the residents of Ballsbridge Court was that the development would impact on their residential amenity as a result of "loss of outlook from the apartment windows and balconies, loss of daylight and sunlight, and overlooking from office accommodation".

Ballsbridge Court is to the north of the appeal site and is made up of brown-brick five-storey apartment blocks.

It is the subject of a separate application seeking an increase in height from five to eight storeys. It is currently on appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

In its decision, An Bord Pleanála agreed that the office block would constitute overdevelopment of the site and would depreciate the value of two blocks in phase two at the Bankcentre and detract from their design quality and profile.

The board said the proposed phase three would impact on nearby property as a result of visual intrusion, overlooking and overshadowing.

The Irish Times


Legend in his lunchbox

Jury's Croke Park Hotel did a roaring lunchtime trade for the duration of An Bord Pleanála's oral hearing on Seán Dunne's massive and controversial scheme for Ballsbridge, with a plethora of lawyers, planning consultants and objectors tucking in there.

But there was no sign of Dunne himself during the lunch breaks. For the "Baron of Ballsbridge" was having his lunch served up in a corporate box on the sixth floor of Croke Park's Cusack Stand, two levels above the conference room where the hearing was held.

Bodyguards stood at the door to make sure no unwelcome guests got in to sample the fare provided by private caterers. Afterwards, Dunne would re-appear at the hearing, flanked by his advisers with two more rows of them to the rear, creating the impression of inviolability.

The Irish Times


Embassy in Dunne's high-rise application is 'fraud'

THE INCLUSION of an embassy block in the planning application for Seán Dunne's high-rise scheme for Ballsbridge was a "fraud" and a "ruse" to add office space to the development, a Bord Pleanála hearing on the project was told yesterday.

Offices are not allowed under the zoning of the site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels. However, embassy use is allowed.

Michael O'Donnell, counsel for businessman Dermot Desmond, yesterday told Ulrik Raysse, the Danish architect behind the scheme, it was not believable that the 15-storey building would be used by embassies of several different countries.

"The embassy building is a ruse and a fraud, Mr Raysse . . . You who have connived in this have acted inappropriately."

Under cross-examination, Mr Raysse said the practical difficulties of housing different embassies on one premises could be solved. Mr O'Donnell asked if he was suggesting that the Palestinian embassy could be housed above the Israeli embassy.

"I think that would be a very good idea," Mr Raysse replied.

Mr Raysee had acted cynically in his whole design of the development, Mr O'Donnell said.

Mr Raysse last week told the hearing that he had originally designed a 32-storey, 119m (390ft) tower for the site, instead of the 37-storey tower, because Dublin Spire architect Ian Ritchie was on the judging panel for the Ballsbridge scheme and Mr Raysee thought Mr Ritchie would not choose a building taller than the 120m (393ft) Spire.

Mr O'Donnell said Mr Raysse was more motivated by placating judges than design principles.

"The motivation guiding you in what was the most cynical of exercises was merely to placate one of the adjudicators," Mr O'Donnell said.

Mr Raysse said he merely had regard for the Spire as a possible idea for heights in Dublin.

Mr O'Donnell asked the architect if he felt it was important that statutory development policies should be "strictly adhered to" when designing a development.

"If there is a better idea that is the stronger one, that should be looked at as stronger than the development plan," Mr Raysse replied.

Mr Raysse was "very presumptuous" to think his views were more important than a democratically determined development plan, Mr O'Donnell said.

The Department of the Environment yesterday told the hearing that protected structures on Lansdowne Road would be put at risk if nine or 11-storey buildings were sited at the edge of Mr Dunne's development.

Mr Dunne applied to Dublin City Council to build 11-storey buildings facing Lansdowne Road. He was granted permission for nine storeys but is asking An Bord Pleanála to restore their full height.

Mark Ritchie, a conservation architect with the department, said the residents on Lansdowne Road would be in "near permanent shadow".

"It would be impossible that 11-storey buildings would not have a significant impact on the quality of life of people in these protected structures," Mr Ritchie said.

The Irish Times


Offices 'would not impact on residential amenity'

THE INCLUSION of almost 28,000sq m of offices on the site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels in Ballsbridge would have no impact on the residential amenity of the area, a public hearing of An Bord Pleanála has been told.

Kieran Kennedy, a planning consultant for developer Seán Dunne, told the hearing on the proposed development that the offices do not materially contravene the city development plan.

Dublin City Council earlier this year refused permission for the office element of Mr Dunne's €1.5 billion development because they contravened the zoning objective of the site which was to "protect, provide and improve residential amenity".

John Gallagher SC, cross-examining Mr Kennedy on behalf of the council, asked if he accepted that office use was "not either permissible or open for consideration" on the site.

Mr Kennedy of RPS Group planning consultants agreed that office use was not specifically mentioned in the council zoning, but claimed that it was "implied" because embassy use and media use were permitted. "These are de facto office uses . . . an embassy is an office," he said.

In addition to offices, Mr Dunne is seeking permission for a 15-storey embassy building that would also include "media" floors.

Under the development plan a material contravention involved a "major or significant departure from the fundamental principles of the plan", Mr Kennedy said.

The area was "full of offices" and the site was already a mixed-use site rather than a residential site, he said.

"Offices are not in any sense going to fundamentally undermine residential amenity," he said. "It could not in any way be a material contravention of the plan."

Mr Dunne, who paid €450 million for the seven-acre site three years ago is seeking to build a mixed-use development of apartments, offices, retail and a cultural centre, which includes a 37-storey tower.

The Irish Times


Controversial club's licence application adjourned

AN APPLICATION for a public dance licence for a controversial nightclub on Clontarf Road in Dublin has been adjourned at Dublin District Court.

The adjournment of the application for the Bar Code nightclub, part of the Westwood Leisure Centre complex, was granted by Judge Mary Collins yesterday after objections from the Clontarf Residents Association.

A second objection was lodged by Insp Liam Dillon of Clontarf Garda station.

The judge told the court the application did not include certificates which are now required under the 2008 Act. Certificates required under the Act relate to the employment of security officers, their identity, the use of closed circuit television and matters relating to fire safety.

The judge said club operators Templeville Developments could apply as required for exemptions to the licensing laws. The exemptions could allow them to sell alcohol outside licensing hours between now and December 3rd.

This week, An Bord Pleanála ruled against an application for retention of the Bar Code premises and numerous alterations to the Westwood Leisure Centre complex. Residents say the nightclub is a source of noise and nuisance.

The appeals board upheld Dublin City Council’s decision to grant permission for the retention of elements of the complex, including a health clinic, lobby, and offices as these were ancillary to its use as a leisure centre.

The board’s decision could result in the owners having to demolish parts of the complex .

The Irish Times


Expert's high-rise evidence was biased, says barrister

BARRISTER Colm Mac Eochaidh, representing 21 appellants opposing Seán Dunne’s high-rise plans for Ballsbridge, has threatened An Bord Pleanála with legal action if it refuses his request to disregard the evidence of one of Mr Dunne’s planning experts.

Marion Chalmers last week gave evidence to the hearing on the development on the economic and social benefits of the €1.5 billion scheme, which would generate 5,000 permanent jobs and €400 million every year, she said.

Ms Chalmers had also been engaged by Mr Dunne to provide expert information on the economic and social benefits of the development to Dublin City Council, as part of Mr Dunne’s planning application.

The council subsequently approved the bulk of the plans for the seven-acre site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels, but refused the 28,000sq m of offices and the 37-storey tower.

Following the decision, Ms Chalmers appealed to An Bord Pleanála in favour of the development, in her capacity as managing director of estate agency DTZ.

Mr Mac Eochaidh said there was a clear conflict of interest in Ms Chalmers’s actions. She had presented herself as an expert witness to the board, while also being an appellant to the hearing. It has also been her job to give an independent analysis of the economic and social aspects of the scheme to the council.

Under planning rules this should have been done “coldly” and without “favour or disfavour”, Mr Mac Eochaidh said.

“That is the opposite of what has happened here. If the board decides to have regard to Ms Chalmers’s evidence it will have substantial legal consequences,” he said.

The hearing’s inspector, Tom Rabbette told Mr Mac Eochaidh that he would consider the matter.

Ms Chalmers had told the hearing yesterday that Dublin needed Mr Dunne’s development, including the office blocks, because the city centre had little remaining office space and there would be no more development land in the docklands within six years.

“There is an urgent need in terms of supply and demand for office space,” she told the hearing. “The docklands will be ‘built out’ by 2014. We have got to be supplying office capacity in the city and we need to plan for that now.”

If the development did not go ahead 1,373 potential jobs would be lost every year, she said. John Gallagher SC, representing the city council, said offices could be provided elsewhere with no loss of jobs. “The losses that you suggest would not occur in the city.”

The Irish Times


Rail line will link Swords with the city

THE RAILWAY Procurement Agency (RPA) is applying to An Bord Pleanála for a railway order to build Metro North, an 18km light metro line linking Belinstown (north of Swords) with St Stephen's Green, serving Dublin airport along the way.

The proposed scheme is described as "a key element in the creation of a fully integrated public transport network as envisaged in Transport 21", the Government's €34 billion transport investment programme, unveiled with great fanfare at Dublin Castle on November 1st, 2005.

It would interchange with the Sandyford Luas Line at St Stephen's Green and the Tallaght Luas line at O'Connell Street. It would also interchange with the Dart and suburban rail services via the proposed rail interconnector between Heuston station and Docklands.

Another interchange with the Maynooth suburban line is planned at Drumcondra as well as 2,600 "park and ride" spaces along the route so that Metro North would "benefit people from far beyond its immediate catchment area."

According to the RPA, the metro will carry 80,000 passengers a day when it opens in 2014. The proposed scheme would have an ultimate capacity in excess of 40,000 passengers an hour (20,000 in each direction).

"This is beyond the capacity of an on-street light rail system, but will easily be accommodated on metro, which can accommodate longer light metro vehicles (LMVs) operating at a higher frequency", the EIS says. The LMVs would be similar to the Luas.

Each LMV would be 2.4m wide and 45 metres long and would operate in a set of two coupled vehicles.

"The journey time from Swords to the city centre will be about 26 minutes, less than half the time of the same journey by car at peak rush hour," the RPA says.

Stations along the route, even when underground, are referred to as "stops" rather than stations - reinforcing the impression that what's on offer is not a "metro" as in Paris, for example, but a version of Luas, running mainly in very expensive-to-dig tunnels.

The voluminous environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted to An Bord Pleanála says a number of alternatives were examined before the RPA opted for Metro North. These included a proposed rail spur to Dublin airport from the Dart line at Malahide.

"This was not approved as it failed to achieve the Government's objectives . . . In particular, it would not serve as a commuter system for north Dublin . . . and would only serve people wishing to make direct connections between the city centre and the airport."

No cost estimate has been given for the Metro North project. However, it is known that the cost was put at €4.58 billion in 2004 but with construction inflation and changes to the scheme since then the cost is now likely to be well over €5 billion.

The Irish Times


O'Connell monument must be moved for Metro work

THE O'CONNELL monument, which survived the devastation of O'Connell Street during the 1916 Rising and the Civil War, will have to be taken down from its pivotal position to facilitate a huge excavation for one of the underground stops on Metro North.

Other statuary scheduled for temporary removal include the William Smith O'Brien monument on O'Connell Street, the Thomas Moore statue on College Street, and the statues of Lord Ardilaun and Robert Emmet and O'Donovan Rossa memorial in St Stephen's Green.

The Fusiliers' Arch at the northwest corner of the green would have to be removed for the construction of a terminal stop at this location. Railings and trees would also have to be removed as some 20 per cent of the green becomes a building site.

So would the African Rose bowl, erected as recently as 2006, as well as "foot rails, perimeter railings, perimeter granite footpath, granite bollards and metal bollards and Victorian landscaping, including the Pulham rock", according to the the Railway Procurement Agency's Environmental Impact Statement.

St Stephen's Green itself is a national monument. "Detailed requirements and mitigation measures [in relation to the green] have been agreed with the Office of Public Works and the Department of the Environment", it says.

Mitigation measures for the green, which is owned and managed by the OPW, include the replacement of felled trees from the Victorian period with semi-mature trees and "the re-instatement of the existing pond, monuments, walls and railings and Fusilier's Arch".The green is protected by an 1877 Act of Parliament, that would have to be amended to permit part of it to be destroyed by the metro project.

No "method statement" showing how the O'Connell Monument, the Fusiliers' Arch or any other monuments are to be dismantled is included in the lengthy, three-volume statement. But Dublin City Council will be seeking such a statement from the agency.

In 2005, the council spent €300,000 on cleaning and restoring the monument and other statuary in O'Connell Street.

The monument, designed by noted Irish sculptor John Henry Foley, is a tripartite structure in granite and bronze, erected by public subscription in 1882.

Apart from the statue, it has a drum depicting his triumphs and four winged figures at its base. Dismantling it all would be the first of the preliminary works for the O'Connell Bridge underground stop. Construction would involve digging out a deep box on O'Connell Street and another on Westmoreland Street, linked by a tunnel beneath the River Liffey.

"Construction of all elements of the O'Connell Bridge stop will take four years to complete, which is the longest single task in the overall construction phase", the statement says. A 30-metre length of the river would be "decked over" to provide a working area.

Construction of a temporary bridge from Eden Quay to Burgh Quay to cater for some of the traffic diverted from O'Connell Street would result in the "temporary removal of part of the quay wall [a recorded monument] on both sides of the river," it says.

A total of 14 buildings, mainly houses, would have to be demolished along the 18km route between Belinstown, north of Swords, and St Stephen's Green. The most notable landmark is St Vincent's Centre for the Deaf on Drumcondra Road, facing the top of Clonliffe Road.

According to the agency, its demolition is required "to create a plaza area for passengers accessing the stop from Drumcondra Road". It is also needed to provide a works site for a cut-and-cover excavation for the stop, that would link up with the adjoining Maynooth rail line.

Demolition of the four-storey building and its chapel was also chosen because it would avoid diverting traffic and utilities on Drumcondra Road - the main route between the city centre and Dublin airport - if it had been encroached on to dig out the huge station box.

Other buildings scheduled for demolition are six houses on nearby St Alphonsus Avenue, two on North Circular Road, three in Leo Street, Phibsboro, as well as Westfield House on Ballymun Road and another house at Albert College Lawn, adjoining DCU.

All the property owners have been informed, it says. "Compensation will be made to those whose properties will be demolished. Sensitive design and reinstating current land uses where possible will mitigate the impact of these permanent land-takes".

However, in some cases where the demolition of buildings was required for the Sandyford and Tallaght Luas lines, sites remain derelict four years after these lines opened. Old Dundrum Railway Station, a protected structure, is now a fire-damaged, roofless shell.

The Metro North construction programme would result in "some negative socio-economic impacts", particularly in areas of retail, commercial and office-based employment, such as Westmoreland Street and O'Connell Street as well as in Ballymun, it concedes.

The level of disruption is not specifically quantified, although it would be much more severe and last longer than during construction of the two Luas lines through Abbey Street or Harcourt Street. The statement does say that footways of at least three metres would be maintained.

As a result of road closures, bus routes would be diverted and bus stops relocated. "In particular, over 150 bus routes in the city centre will be altered due to the closure of roads that are heavily used by buses, such as Westmoreland Street," the statement says.

• Copies of the full Environmental Impact Statement may be inspected at the offices of the Railway Procurement Agency in Parkgate Business Centre, Parkgate Street, at Dublin City Council's civic offices at Wood Quay, or at the offices of An Bord Pleanála at 64, Marlborough Street.

The Irish Times