400 homes given go-ahead despite ancient hedgerows
One of the country's largest property firms has secured planning permission for a major new housing development which will provide almost 400 homes in south Dublin.
An Bord Pleanala has approved the plans by Cairn Homes for the strategic housing development on more than 16 hectares in Newcastle under the fast-track planning system.
It rejected the recommendation of its own inspector that the plans for the 380 homes - with a creche, commercial unit and public park - should be refused.
The project will have 248 houses, 36 duplexes and 36 apartments on the main site, with 50 other units on three smaller sites at the corner of Burgage Street and Newcastle Boulevard.
An additional 26 houses originally proposed by Cairn Homes should be omitted from the scheme, with their site instead developed as public open space.
The development will also reserve a site for a new school.
The inspector had recommended planning permission should be refused because of an adverse impact on biodiversity due to the removal of two large sections of 700-year-old hedgerows.
It would also have a negative impact on the area's landscape and views.
She claimed the loss of important medieval landscape features could have been avoided with "a more creative design".
However, An Bord Pleanala said that subject to a number of planning conditions, the development was acceptable in terms of design, form and layout.
The board said the retention of other sections of historic hedgerows and the reinstatement of other hedgerows would result in an overall increase in new landscaping and tree planting.
It claimed the hedgerows earmarked for removal had "minimal value" and the development adequately integrated historic hedgerows into the layout of the scheme.
The board said the mix of housing units of varying sizes catered for an appropriate range of housing needs.
It said it differed with the view of its own inspector about the impact of the development on biodiversity and landscape.
South Dublin County Council had also recommended that planning approval should be given for the project.