herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

'Save our houses', plead residents concerned about floodplain plan

Noeleen McManus (centre), of the Swap group in Bray, Co Wicklow, with Eleanor Phillips, Dina Doyle, Derek Crinion, Catherine Byrne, Vincent Eaves and Marie Moorehouse
Noeleen McManus (centre), of the Swap group in Bray, Co Wicklow, with Eleanor Phillips, Dina Doyle, Derek Crinion, Catherine Byrne, Vincent Eaves and Marie Moorehouse

A community group is urging receivers acting on behalf of Nama to halt plans to build a new town centre on a floodplain near their homes.

The Swap (Safety With Alternative Plan) group in Bray, Co Wicklow, says some 500 homes in Little Bray will be at increased risk of flooding if the development goes ahead.

In 2010, planning permission was granted for a new town centre on the former Bray Golf Club lands, owned by development company Pizarro. The permission expires in 2020 and the company is now in receivership.

Swap says part of the development is planned on a natural floodplain that protects their homes, and says the 8.6-acre site could be turned into a park, with development taking place on higher ground.

The group wants Wicklow County Council to rezone the land, but members have not been allowed present their case to a full meeting of the council.

"We have two battles going on," said spokeswoman Noeleen McManus. "One is the question of the zoning, and the second is to persuade Nama and the receiver not to build as it's against Government policy to build on flood plains.

"Nama is the biggest creditor, and we're asking why this piece of land cannot be bought and kept safe."

The 8.6-acre site is part of a bigger site of 41 acres where development is planned.

Ms McManus said efforts to meet Office of Public Works minister with responsibility for flooding, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, had been unsuccessful.

Voluntary

A letter provided by Ms McManus to the Herald says the minister sees "no useful purpose" being served by facilitating a meeting, as he can be "of no direct assistance to you on the matter".

Ms McManus said the area, which forms part of the River Dargle floodplain, has flooded on a number of occasions in the past - in 1905, 1931, 1965 and 1986.

"Why is nobody prepared to sit down and talk to us?" asked Ms McManus. "This campaign started in 2005 and it's 2017 now. It's a long time for a community to be involved in a battle on a voluntary basis."

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