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Sunday 23 September 2018

Residents' joy as St Anne's housing plan rejected but developer may yet appeal

Senator Aodhan O'Riordain during a Public Protest walk over a proposed housing development adjacent to St. Anne's Park in Raheny, Dublin. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Senator Aodhan O'Riordain during a Public Protest walk over a proposed housing development adjacent to St. Anne's Park in Raheny, Dublin. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

North Dublin residents are celebrating a decision to refuse permission for 500 homes to be built, but the threat of the controversial plan is not over.

Permission was previously granted for 432 apartments and 104 houses at St Paul's College, Sybil Hill Road, Raheny, earlier this year.

Residents had protested the decision as the facility had been used for years as playing pitches for children and teenagers.

A number of High Court challenges were brought against An Bord Pleanala's original decision to allow Crekav Trading, part of developer Marlet, to build on the site beside St Anne's Park.

Ultimately the planning authority decided to refuse permission for the development yesterday.

St Anne's Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney
St Anne's Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney

One of the reasons given was that the site is a popular feeding area for Brent geese.

Margaret Dempsey, who has lived in the area all her life, said the majority of residents were absolutely delighted with the outcome.

Horrified

"My son went to St Paul's for years and played football there and I couldn't believe what was happening," she told the Herald.

"I just couldn't believe that it would be passed.

"When it happened, we were horrified. It would be a big loss to the area.

"I just heard the disappointment and anguish of young mothers who would be sending their kids to school in the future and the facility would have been a big loss."

But despite the news, Marlet still has the option to appeal the decision.

"Having just received this announcement, the company will now take time to consider An Bord Pleanala's decision," a spokesperson said.

"While understandably disappointed with the outcome, we look forward to working with the board on future Strategic Housing Development projects with the objective of increasing the availability of sustainable and fully-serviced housing in the Dublin region."

Senator Aodhan O Riordain believes the company will continue to fight its case and is appealing to Dublin City Council to buy the land in question.

"They have the option to seek their own judicial review and I'd imagine they will keep making applications to the board.

"However, the reason for their refusal will make it very difficult to be successful.

"I think the next step needs to be for Dublin City Council to acquire those lands and make them part of St Anne's Park."

Mr O Riordain added that the residents who protested against the development being built were a credit to their community and hopes the issue has finally been resolved.

The plan to build the properties had gone through the fast-track Strategic Housing Development system, despite there being thousands of objections and a large-scale protest.

Demise

The project would have ultimately led to the demise of the site's playing fields, which are utilised by many clubs.

However, Crekav Trading said it intended to replace the playing pitches on the land with a gym and two outdoor all-weather pitches.

In March, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan recommended that An Bord Pleanala refuse its application following the release of a petition signed by 3,000 local residents.

"Having regard to the fact that the subject site is one of the most important ex-situ feeding sites in Dublin for the light-bellied Brent Goose...

"The board cannot be satisfied, beyond reasonable scientific doubt, that the proposed development, either individually or in combination with other plans and projects, would not adversely affect the integrity of these European sites in view of the sites' conservation objectives," the board said.

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