Disappointed locals considering legal action
A controversial property development has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanala to start building on St Paul’s playing fields near Dublin’s St Anne’s Park.
A total of 657 apartments, a creche and associated works, has been greenlit by planners.
Last month the developer won a high court challenge regarding An Bord Pleanala’s refusal of planning permission for 536 housing units in Raheny, north Dublin.
The I Love St. Anne’s campaign group said it “is disappointed at today’s decision from An Bord Pleanála.”
The group added: “This is the third attempt to gain planning on the St. Paul’s pitches, the first application was withdrawn and the second refused.
“We had successfully challenged this current application in the High Court. An Bord Pleanála acknowledged that yet again, there was an error in their decision and it was remitted back to them, at their request, before arguments were heard.
“It would appear that An Bord Pleanála have now re-issued their decision, with minor changes. We will review this decision with our legal team to establish if the issues raised at judicial review have been satisfactorily dealt with.
“The St. Paul’s playing fields comprise C15 acres of privately owned land next to St Anne’s Park.
“The park itself was recently named as one of the world’s top five parks in the Green Flag People’s Choice awards.
“Indeed, this campaign has collected over 10,000 signatures from Dublin and around the world, opposing this development.
“It is obvious, even from a cursory visit to the proposed site, that building here would have long term, irreversible and potentially catastrophic impacts on St Anne’s park and the adjacent UNESCO biosphere for which the park is a buffer zone.
“Parents should also be aware that the five-year building licence will have unforeseen implications for St Paul’s boys secondary school which sits at the centre of the St Paul’s lands.”
The applicant is Crekav, part of the Marlet Property Group.
Permission has been granted, with conditions. The submissions were considered by the Board on August 18 and the decision was made to grant the planning permission with the inspector’s recommendations.
One of the recommendations listed by An Bord Pleanala is that the site’s location is “on lands with a zoning objective which includes residential development being ‘open for consideration.”
Another recommendation was given due to the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness and to the National Planning Framework “which identifies the importance of compact growth”.
Under Board direction the proposed development must be carried out and completed “in accordance with the plans and particulars lodged with the application…”
Any further details must be agreed with the planning authority and the developer has to agree such details in writing.
In the high court, the developers sought permission under the 2016 Planning and Development (Housing and Residential Tenancies) Act 2016 - a fast track process for housing.
The developers had originally applied to build 536 residential units, 104 houses and 432 apartments and ancillary works on the land, which had previously formed part of lands of St Paul’s College, a Raheny secondary school.
The Board had in 2018 granted permission for the development but its decision was challenged in three separate proceedings from Clonres CLG, a local residents group, and by others.
Labour TD Aodhan O'Riordán said that it is likely that locals opposing the development will seek a judicial review into An Bórd Pleanala's decision.
"The saga continues because I'm quite sure that over the coming days, local representatives and the I Love St Anne's campaign group will find some way to re-asses the judgement.
"It is desperately disappointing that An Bord Pleanala has made this decision.
"If nobody understood the importance of St Anne's Park before, they certainly have appreciated it during the lockdown. The ability to use that green space has been such a life saver for many people in terms of their mental health and physical health, to be able to get out and go to St Anne's.
"I think this decision today will be desperately disappointing to many more people who didn't realise before how important the park is to them."
He said that opposing the development is not a case of NIMBYism.
"I have supported a huge number of housing applications right across Dublin Bay North.
"This one is where two judicial reviews that I have backed in Dublin Bay North and both of them have proven to be successful.
"[These lands are] not intended to basically build a small town on what are playing pitches," he added.
"It's a case of trying to protect playing fields."
"What I don't think is appropriate is the rezoning of the city to be thrown to one side to benefit a developer. That's what's been done, it's been done in the past in this city and it's being done again now."