Clonburris zone plan was difficult, rigorous process

By Brendan Grehan

AFTER four marathon meetings South Dublin County Council voted to pass the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone  last week.

Councillors were burning the mid-night oil until the early hours until finally  after 2.30am on Friday morning the plan for a new town between Clondalkin and Lucan was passed.

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The public will now have its say on the Clonburris SDZ.

The Mayor, Councillor Paul Gogarty described it “as the worst SDZ process in many a year.”

He said: “So watered down in terms of infrastructure and amenities. About 12 or so important amendments were passed which is why I abstained to keep them in rather than voting against. The net effect of voting against would have been to endorse the existing plan. I couldn’t do that but I couldn’t in conscience endorse the amended plan either so I abstained to let our few good amendments go to public consultation.”

In Fine Gael, three Dublin Mid West Councillors  abstained from approving the amended version of the Clonburris SDZ.

Cllrs Vicki Casserly, Kenneth Egan and General Election Candidate Emer Higgins confirned that they supported the need to develop almost 7,000 homes in Clonburris over 20 years, but voiced concerns around the sustainability of the plan from planning and transport infrastructure perspectives.

They successfully passed a number of amendments around the need to link the delivery of the development to transport improvements including the opening of Kishogue Railway Station, a reduction in the overall size of the development, the inclusion of additional green space and the inclusion of a thorough approvals process for the potential opening of cul de sacs in some estates in Lucan and Clondalkin.

Cllr Casserly told The Echo: "Its been a really long week but a very worthwhile process and it's particularly positive to  have had so many residents on the journey with us, watching from the gallery. I know lots of people put in submissions on the SDZ and I'm pleased to have brought the spirit of many of those submissions to the Council chamber, and be there to debate them and affect change.”

Clondalkin Labour Councillor  Breeda Bonner said she was very disappointed that Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and some independent  councillors in the Lucan/Clondalkin area failed to stand up for the best interests of the Clondalkin community.

She told The Echo: “To be specific, they supported a motion which was passed by the mayor’s casting vote which would remove housing from the western part of the SDZ near Lucan in favour of much higher densities near the railway stations at Clondalkin/Fonthill and Kishogue which effectively means putting more social pressure on Clondalkin."

She added: “Local Fine Gael and Fianna Fail councillors also opposed 30 per cent social housing in Clonburris even though they know such housing is desperately needed by many people in Clondalkin and Lucan. Fortunately on this, they failed to get their way."

Cllr Bonner told The Echo  that she was pleased that motions on the following issues were passed including a 70:30 divide between private and social housing, that the Kishogue railway station be opened prior to major housing development and that schools, a primary health care centre, Garda and Fire Stations be built as the development is rolled out.

Councillor Francis Timmons told The Echo that the experience “has been less than inspiring”.

He said: Councillors have little real say in most major issues, traffic and transport being two of the biggest. I voted with the majority to place more high density housing around the train stations at Foothill in Clondalkin and Kishoge in Lucan. This is to facilitate more playing fields/facilities and limit the need to travel outside the immediate area.”

Councillor Mark Ward welcomed the passing of the vote.

He said: “Clonburris has the potential to deliver over 8,000 houses across vast lands of Clondalkin and Lucan. I proposed a Sinn Fein motion that will see the maximum amount of 2,700 social and affordable houses delivered across the plan. This plan when delivered will not only help those on our housing list but also those who are over the threshold for social housing but cannot afford to buy their own homes.”

People Before Profit Councillor Madeleine Johansson, described the four meetings as “rigorous and at times difficult”.

She told The Echo: “Many of the amendments passed, including my motion to include the Lucan Luas in the Phasing, will contribute to a much improved plan for future and existing residents in Clonburris, Lucan and Clondalkin. The National Transport Authority has failed to engage properly with local representatives and the only option left for us was to force the NTA’s hand by including public transport in the Phasing of the scheme, against the recommendations of the planners."

Cllr Johansson called on the NTA  “to engage in meaningful discussion with local representatives, and on the people of Lucan and Clondalkin to get organised to demand better public transport.”

The plan will now go back out to the public for further consultation when interested parties will be able to make submissions before it is brought back to the councillors to make the final decision in 8 to 10 weeks time.

Councillor Liona O’Toole abstained from voting on the final vote on the Clonburris SDZ. The Echo asked her why she did so.

Cllr O’Toole said: “I have been asked why did I abstain from the final vote on the Clonburris SDZ. It is a fair question. I have attended all 32 plus hours of debating and voted on all 350 + motions. I voted on all motions and did not abstain from any of them,  however I did not agree with the final outcome of the amended plan and could not support the County Management original plan so I abstained."

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