Monday 7 February 2011

Councillors to decide future of planned retirement home

A CONTROVERSIAL retirement village proposed for the foot of the Dublin mountains near Sandyford may be closer to development after a local authority meeting next week.

Councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council are to consider a motion to amend the council’s county development plan specifically to allow for a nursing home on lands in a scenic location at Ticknock near Sandyford.

The Grange Retirement Village, on 16 acres of land zoned for agricultural development on the mountain side of the M50, would include residential accommodation, a nursing home, a stroke rehabilitation clinic and community and recreational facilities.

When the development, proposed by the landowner Rod McGovern, was initially discussed at council, on November 19th, 2009, it was rejected outright by councillors following a recommendation by county manager Owen Keegan.

However, a week later, on November 23rd, councillor Tom Joyce (FG) and councillor Tom Murphy (FF) proposed a specific local objective for the site to allow for the development and councillors from both parties voted for it.

The objective was ratified as part of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Development Plan 2010-2016 in March 2010.

It was believed planning permission for the retirement village could then be applied for.

However, planning consultants on behalf of the developer discovered a “technical hitch” in the zoning which meant that the objective alone was not enough to allow the development to be considered by the council’s planning department.

A variation to the development plan would be needed.

Councillor Neale Richmond (FG) and councillor Gearoid O’Keeffe (Ind) attempted to suspend standing orders at January’s council meeting to remedy the hitch. However, because they needed a two-thirds majority to suspend the meeting, their motion was rejected.

It is understood a variation to the county development plan will be proposed at the council meeting next week.

It will add a footnote to the definition of what development is allowed on land zoned agricultural so that the retirement village can be built at Ticknock.

It will be specific to the 16-acre site.

Cathaoirleach and councillor Lettie McCarthy (Lab) said the development was not suitable in “such an isolated area” and that there was enough zoned land elsewhere to support it.

“This is a prominent elevated site immediately adjoining a high amenity area,” she said.

The development would be visible from a wide area and would cause “serious injury to the rural character and visual amenity” of the area, she said.

But Mr O’Keeffe said the development would provide badly needed healthcare facilities for elderly people in the county, hundreds of building jobs at construction stage and long-term jobs when the facility was opened.

The variation will be debated at next week’s council meeting.

Irish Times

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