'Overwhelming concerns' over Citywest fast-tracking

By Mary Dennehy

AN ACTION group has been established in Citywest due to ‘overwhelming concerns’ surrounding the number of high-density residential developments being passed and proposed – despite a serious lack of infrastructure in the area.

The Citywest Residents Action Group, which is community-led and has eight committee members from across estates in the area, has in recent months been meeting with elected representatives and Government departments to highlight concerns.

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Lynda Prendergast, Sarah Kavanagh, Nicola Fitzpatrick and Suzin Staunton

The number of applications being lodged directly with An Bord Pleanála through the fast-track planning system for Strategic Housing Developments (SHD) has also being raised.

“Unfortunately, the majority of these developments are being applied for directly under the SHD scheme via An Bord Pleanála and are therefore bypassing South Dublin County Council,” a spokesperson for the group said.

“There is huge concern that as a result, our Local Area Plan is not being considered in the decision process of these developments.”

The Citywest area has a Local Area Plan known as the Fortunestown LAP, which was made in 2012 and extended in June 2017 for a further five years.

The Fortunestown LAP was drawn up and adopted by South Dublin County Council, which this week told The Echo that it is “monitoring” the delivery of the required infrastructure in the LAP in tandem with the housing units.

According to figures provided to The Echo by the council, the number of key housing sites under construction or with planning permission not commenced in the Citywest area has the capacity to deliver up to 2,074 units.

These figures are from June 2019 (end of quarter 2), the most current stats available at this time, and includes dwellings recently constructed, under construction or granted permission.

It does not include applications currently in the planning system awaiting decision.

 “This group was formed due to the overwhelming concern from Citywest residents about the number of applications for residential developments,” the group spokesperson said.

“It is imperative that the infrastructure to cater for existing residents is in place prior to any further permissions being granted for more residential dwellings in this area.

“We have no secondary school, no community centre, no sports clubs or facilities, no library, no Garda station, no public house, no youth facilities, no village area or amenities.

“We have one underdeveloped park, which is not fit for purpose for the number of residents.

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High rise building under construction in Citywest

“Our Fortunestown LAP plans for greenways, walkways, parks, community facilities, schools, yet none of these are being delivered and any green space currently available is being taken over with SHD development applications or are already being built on.”

The group stressed that it is not against residential development, but is calling for infrastructure to be introduced before, or in tandem, with development – and in line with the Fortunestown LAP.

The Echo contacted South Dublin County Council and asked them to confirm what elements of the Fortunestowen LAP are being delivered – and when.

In its reply, the council said: “In recent years, housing construction activity in the Citywest area has significantly increased due to a number of factors including the economic upturn.

“The Fortunestown LAP includes phasing requirements for open space improvements, new open space/parks, provision of primary schools, junction upgrades, new roads and streets, post primary schools and community floorspace.

“Each planning application for residential development is assessed with regard to the phasing requirements of the LAP to ensure that housing delivery is integrated with delivery to community facilities and public amenities.

“To date, the delivery of the phasing requirements is largely integrated into the planning applications for the housing, in particular the construction of junctions and junction upgrades, Citywest Avenue extension, community floorspace and parks/ open space.”

The council noted that one new primary school has been constructed and is operational, with a further two primary schools currently under construction.

“The Fortunestown LAP has a requirement for the delivery of community floor space in tandem with the construction of housing units and to date, the developers are providing this on a pro rata basis across the LAP lands as part of the residential planning applications”, the council said.

“The council continually monitors the implementation of planning permissions.”

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Some of the building work currently going on in Citywest

Additionally, according to the council, the LAP requires the provision of parks and open space in the area – with planning permissions for houses granted to date including community facilities such as a District Park, Neighbourhood Park and open space in accordance with the Fortunestown LAP.

The council said that parks and open spaces will be delivered in tandem with the completion of units and in accordance with respective planning permissions.

One major concern for residents is the number of planning applications being lodged directly with An Bord Pleanála as Strategic Housing Developments.

When asked about its role in the SHD process, the council said: “While it is acknowledged that SHD applications, including those within the Fortunestown LAP, are ultimately decided by An Bord Pleanála, the planning authority, nonetheless has a key role in the process.

“This includes participation in formal pre-planning consultations and the submission of a Chief Executive’s report on a proposal to An Bord Pleanála.

“In such reports, the council outlines the requirements of the LAP, assesses the proposal in terms of compliance with the LAP and provides a recommendation to An Bord Pleanála.

“The council is monitoring the delivery of the required infrastructure in the LAP in tandem with the housing units.”

Alongside campaigning for infrastructure, the Citywest Residents Action Group hopes to raise awareness and keep the community informed of planning issues in the area.

Follow them on Facebook for more information on planning issues.

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