Councillors vote unanimously against Cookstown Castle plans

By Aideen O'Flaherty

COUNCILLORS on the Tallaght Area Committee unanimously voted against plans for the development of 1,104 apartments, known as Cookstown Castle, in Cookstown Industrial Estate last week.

The proposed development was lodged by Joseph Costello Absolute Limousines last month under An Bord Pleanála’s fast-track system, as a Strategic Housing Development (SHD).

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An artist impression of the Cookstown site 1,104 build-to-rent apartments

It is to consist of 1,104 build-to-rent apartments, comprising 132 studio units, 475 one-bed apartments, 208 two-bed apartments, 244 two-bed duplex units and 45 three-bed apartments, in 21 blocks varying in height from four- to eleven-storeys.

The plans were brought before the members of the Tallaght Area Committee for observations at their monthly meeting last week, where they unanimously voted against the plans.

Fianna Fáil councillor Teresa Costello, who is against the plans and whose cousin Joseph Costello lodged the planning application, told The Echo: “I have to do my job and Joe has to do his.

“I disagree with Strategic Housing Developments because I don’t see them as solving our housing issue.

“The development is build-to-rent, it’s taking away the chance for people to purchase their own home.”

Cllr Costello added that she’d “rather see social housing” in place of the proposed development.

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Artist’s impression of the proposed junction at the intersection of First Avenue and Cookstown Road

Independent councillor for Tallaght Central, Mick Duff, told The Echo: “All of the councillors at the meeting spoke out against the proposal, because they didn’t look at it as being a sustainable development for families – it’s primarily studio and one-bed apartments.

“To my mind, it doesn’t meet the requirements for the regeneration of Cookstown. The regeneration of Cookstown wasn’t just to build apartments, there’s meant to be a mix.”

Cookstown is marked as a regeneration zone in the Tallaght Local Area Plan, meaning it’s been earmarked as a location for the creation of further opportunities for regeneration and employment.

Other plans for the regeneration of the area, according to South Dublin County Council, include the development of “a significant public realm project”, an innovation centre, a transport mobility hub, an extension to Airton Road and the development of the Belgard Road North link road.

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The site in Cookstown Industrial Estate.

However, the area has also been the focus of numerous planning applications for apartment developments in recent years, including the permitted development of 252 build-to-rent apartments at 66 and 67 Fourth Avenue, and a 196-unit residential development at Units 5A-C on Second Avenue.

In relation to the planning application lodged by Joseph Costello Limousines, Cllr Duff said he’s concerned that, if planning permission is granted, the apartments will go on the private rental market.

“We have to have security of tenure,” he said, “and developments like this don’t have a good record for security of tenure. It’s not building a community.

“There’s also the pressure that this development will put on the Luas. At a minimum, you’re talking about an extra 2,000 to 3,000 people using the Belgard stop.

“This, on top of the other developments in the area, is going to impose a serious burden on Luas and Dublin Bus services.”

When asked about his view of the proposed development in the context of the ongoing housing crisis, Cllr Duff explained: “There’s nobody that believes that living in a hotel is preferable to having a key to your own front door.

“But in the private rental market, you have no security of tenure. [The proposed development] is only a temporary solution, and we’re looking for a permanent solution.”

He added: “I just can’t find myself supporting this. We’re looking for more mixed-tenure developments.”

Another point of concern among councillors is the proposed height of the development, ranging from four- to 11-storeys.

Cllr Duff added that consideration needs to be given to the fact that the proposed development is situated near Tallaght University Hospital’s helipad and is near the Baldonnel Aerodrome flightpath.

The councillors’ observations at the area committee meeting about the development will be included in South Dublin County Council’s Chief Executive’s Report, which will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála for their consideration when making a decision on the plans.

A decision on the planning application is due from An Bord Pleanála by July 8.

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