Developer using heritage and recreational needs in area “as pawns” say Community Council

Developer using heritage and recreational needs in area “as pawns” say Community Council

By Éadaoin Ní Flaithearta

TALLAGHT Community Council (TCC) has stated that the proposed population density of a 3,500-unit development at Newlands Farm would be comparable to the sixth most populated borough of London, and they claim that developer Hibernia is using heritage and recreational needs in the area “as pawns”.

The voluntary community group said they have been observing Hibernia’s plans for rezoning the site of the proposed development over recent months.

ECHO Belgard Fields 3 of 4 Photo Ben Ryan 1

The green belt site between Kingswood and Clondalkin along the Belgard Road

Newlands Farm is currently zoned for agricultural uses, however in order for planning permission to be considered the site will have to be rezoned for residential uses.

Hibernia REIT, the developer that owns the site, hopes it will be rezoned for residential development in the next South Dublin County Development Plan, for the period 2022-2028, which is currently under review. 

Submissions related to the potential rezoning of lands will be accepted when the draft development plan reaches the public consultation period. 

Following on from this, the draft plan will then be voted on by councillors who will ultimately decide whether the land will be rezoned.

london density 1

A comparison has been made with density figures in London

Peter Forde, TCC’s Planning Officer, said the group has concerns about the potential population density on the site if the plans go ahead, and compared it to heavily populated areas of London.

“Based on what we know now, it appears Hibernia REIT’s plan may include 3,500 apartments on the 58-hectare site, if a majority of the 40 SDCC councillors agree to rezone this land,” he said.

“Assuming a modest population of two people in each apartment, this would create a whopping residential density of 12,000 per km squared on this land bank.

“For comparison, the most densely populated city in the UK is London, with an average of 5.7k people per km squared across 33 boroughs.

“This proposed density places Newlands Farm with the sixth most populated borough in London.”

Camden, the sixth most populated borough in London, has a population density of 12,035 people per km squared.

“This possible density is simply not sustainable or desirable to us,” added Mr Forde. “Our local services and existing community amenities cannot sustain this influx of a transient rental population.”

The group has also taken issue with Hibernia’s “slow reveal” of their plans for the site, and they claim the developer has used the heritage and recreational needs of the area, including the restoration of Whitehall House, the former home of poet Katharine Tynan, “as pawns” in their plans.

Tara De Buitléar, PRO of TCC, said: “Tallaght Community Council would now call on Hibernia REIT to be fully transparent with their development plan, with the whole community.

“A selective and slow reveal is not creating trust or showing the Tallaght community the respect it deserves.

“Stop using our valued heritage and recreational needs as pawns in this long game for rezoning of this land bank.

“It is time to stop watching the historic Whitehall decay further as it sits open to the weather – conserve it now or give it to the State before it disappears into the ground.

“The IRFU ignored many requests over the years to show Whitehall the respect it deserves. A laissez faire [attitude] from corporate interests’ approach towards Tallaght heritage can’t be tolerated.”

Liz Kennedy, Chair of TCC, said: “TCC have not been invited to a meeting with Hibernia REIT.

“As one of the longest established community groups in Tallaght and active in monitoring development plans and applications, if the community engagement efforts by Hibernia wish to hear all relevant views, this lack of invitation begs many questions.”

A spokesperson for Hibernia told The Echo that they have been in contact with TCC via email, and added: “Hibernia will engage with all groups in order to hear their views on how best to address the challenges facing South Dublin in terms of the ongoing housing crisis and the need to provide much needed social, community and sporting infrastructure.”

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