Dubs hero joins battle to block plans for flats close to St Anne's Park
North Dublin residents are gearing up for a battle over new plans to develop lands near St Anne's Park.
Dublin GAA hero Brian Fenton is among those who have lent support to a campaign to oppose a third application for the development of apartment blocks there, with a protest planned for tomorrow.
"We are expecting a large turnout, as we do anytime we hold something like this," organiser Aodhan O Riordain, a Labour Party senator, told the Herald. The Hands Around the Park event will raise funds by selling t-shirts.
In a post on social media, Mr Fenton has said he wants to see the park saved.
"Recently St Anne's Park was voted in the world's top five parks," he said.
"At a time when local sports teams are fighting for every inch of playing grounds used by thousands every week, private developers want to turn almost a third into apartments."
Developer Crekav Trading, part of Pat Crean's Marlet Property group, were initially granted planning permission to develop 104 houses and 432 apartments on lands in Raheny used by St Paul's College for six playing pitches.
This was done through the fast-track Strategic Housing Development system.
However, a 2018 High Court case taken by the local community saw An Bord Pleanala ordered to reconsider its decision.
Central to the issue was the presence of protected Brent geese, who feed on short grass on the site. In June 2018, An Bord Pleanala admitted that granting permission for the project was a mistake and overturned the decision.
In a saga that has had many twists and turns, that decision has been now judicially reviewed by the developer, with a decision pending.
But in the meantime, it has submitted a fresh application for another, bigger development on the site. With a first application withdrawn, it marks the third set of plans for housing development there.
Marlet did not respond to a request for comment from the Herald. Its fresh proposals are for 657 apartments, including nine-storey blocks to be "located in the centre of the site to minimise impact on surrounding areas".
"There are loads of applications that go in that are proportional and on properly zoned land ,which I have no problem with," Mr O'Riordain said.
He pointed to the controversial O'Devaney Gardens development as one which the Labour Party supported in spite of strong opposition. "We are in favour of housing. Of course we need housing," he said.
Clontarf GAA Club has already submitted an observation to the fast-track application to build 657 apartments on the site beside St Paul's College.
The club, which has more than 2,000 members, including 1,400 juveniles, said they have been badly affected by the decision to sell the playing pitches at St Paul's College to developers back in 2015.
This has resulted in limited access to many of the pitches they previously used for their young players.
Up to this point, they had relied heavily on St Paul's College and the nearby park for playing facilities, paying around €60,000 this year alone.
Mr O Riordain has urged others to submit observations.