Category Archives: Planning/ Pleanáil

Response to public consultation on Kinsealy Local Area Plan

Although much of the land at Kinsealy should not have been zoned for residential development, I welcome the opportunity to respond to the draft Local Area Plan.
My primary concern is in relation to providing for active travel modes within the LAP and to adjoining areas. The pre-draft consultation highlighted the importance of providing quality walking and cycling links from Kinsealy to neighbouring areas, in particular to Portmarnock railway station. The draft LAP shows a lot of positive intention in this regard but is very confusing when it comes to understanding exactly what is planned. At this stage in the process there should be clear proposals to respond to.

South Fingal Transport Study

South Fingal Transport Study has been carried out for the Council. (This is in fulfilment of an objective in the County Development Plan which specified the Study would include public consultation; unfortunately the public consultation hasn’t happened.)

The Study contains strong recommendations about prioritising walking, cycling and public transport in the area, and will be discussed at a Planning and Strategic Infrastructure Policy Committee meeting on Monday 28th.

Response to Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy consultation

As a member of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, I was involved in drafting the Green Party submission to the consultation on the draft Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy. The submission is quite brief and contains recommendations in the following areas:

  • ensuring that effective sustainability indicators are used;
  • halting and reversing biodiversity loss in line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, including large-scale rewetting of peatlands and restoration of natural ecosystems including wetlands and woodlands across the region, taking account of the major social and economic benefits which could result;
  • ensuring the implementation of the Water Framework Directive through the planning system;
  • transitioning to the circular economy;
  • measuring the greenhouse gas emissions from the plan and ensuring it puts us on a path to a low -carbon economy
  • investing in walking and cycling, recognising their public health and environmental benefits
  • investing in public transport, in particular rail.

Fingal agrees to encourage the development of car-free neighbourhoods

The Council today confirmed the following amendment I proposed to the Draft Development Plan:

“At locations where higher density development is being provided, encourage the development of car-free neighbourhoods, where non-motorised transport is allowed and motorised vehicles have access only for deliveries but must park outside the neighbourhood, creating a much better quality public realm with green infrastructure, public health, economic and community benefits.”

It reflects successful experience  in neighbourhoods such as Vauban in Germany and entire suburban towns like Houten in the Netherlands, as well of course in old cities around the world.

 

Fingal agrees to provide 30km/h environment in the vicinity of schools

Following public display, the Council has voted, (by a margin of 1 vote!) to confirm the inclusion of the following in the Development Plan:

“Ensure that as soon as possible, but by the end of the lifetime of the Development Plan, the environment in the immediate vicinity of schools is a safe and attractive low speed (30km/h) environment, and drop-off by car within a given distance restricted.”

The text is copied from the National Cycle Policy Framework; it is something which should be happening at all schools nationwide by 2020.

 

Final stage of County Development Plan process

I have submitted the following motions in relation to the Amendments to the County Development Plan. The meetings will be on 14th and 16th February.

Cycling 
For background to the cycling motions, please see my report from the previous stage of the Plan.
7.10 Review of cycle infrastructure not designed in line with Principles of Sustainable Safety
That In light of policy 2.5 of the National Cycle Policy Framework, the proposed amendment
“Insert new Objective MT: Review existing cycle infrastructure which was not designed in line with the Principles of Sustainable Safety in a manner consistent with the National Cycle Manual and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and undertake appropriate remedial works.“
be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
7.11 Design roads in accordance with the Principles of Sustainable Safety
That the Amendment agreed by the Council under Agenda item 284/ Motion AI028972
“Insert Objective after MT09: Design roads including cycle infrastructure in line with the Principles of Sustainable Safety in a manner consistent with the National Cycle Manual and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets.”
be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
7.15 30km/h environment in the immediate vicinity of schools
That the proposed amendment:
“Insert new Objective MT: Ensure that as soon as possible, but by the end of the lifetime of the Development Plan the environment in the immediate vicinity of schools is a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment with speed limits strictly enforced, and drop-off by car within a given distance restricted.”
be be amended to
“Insert new Objective MT: Ensure that as soon as possible, but by the end of the lifetime of the Development Plan the environment in the immediate vicinity of schools is a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment, and drop-off by car within a given distance restricted.”

(The deletion of the reference to enforcement comes from the fact that the Council has no influence on speed limit enforcement.  Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending this much weaker version: “Support and promote the implementation of policy in the immediate vicinity of schools to provide for a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment.”)

SH9.10 Cycle Routes to Kinsealy
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Abbeville to Kettle’s Lane be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Portmarnock to Teagasc Kinsealy be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Balgriffin to Teagasc Kinsealy (along field boundaries east and north of Balgriffin cemetery) be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Balgriffin to Kinsealy (via Malahide Road) be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that none of these routes be included.)
SH14.2 Mark Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network on the Development Plan maps
That the proposed amendment to mark the routes of the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan within Fingal on the relevant Development Plan maps be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
4.32 Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking scheme
That the proposed amendment:
Insert new Objective Skerries Promote and facilitate the development of the Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking Scheme along the Coast Road within the lifetime of this Development Plan”
be altered to now read:
“Insert new Objective Skerries
Promote and facilitate the development of the Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking Scheme along the Coast Road within two years of the adoption of this Development Plan”
as requested in the submission received.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this two year time limit not be included.)
Low-carbon development and building
3.15 Low-carbon developments
That the proposed amendment
“Insert new Objective PM at Section 3.4 Sustainable Design and Standards New urban developments in Fingal will be required to be low-carbon developments, in all aspects of layout design and construction”
be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
3.16 Low-carbon building materials
That the proposed amendment
“Insert new Objective PM at Section 3.4 Sustainable Design and Standards In general, require the use of low carbon building materials and where available use Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for the assessment of the sustainable use of resources and of the impact of constructions works on the environment.”
be confir(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
Quarries
5.18 Extractive industries
That in light of the SEA assessment that “The deletion of this text is directly negative for biodiversity, water, population, landscape, soil/ landuse.” the deletion proposed in amendment 5.18 not be made.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending this amendment which deletes strict criteria to be met for quarrying.)
5.20 Extractive industries
That in light of the SEA assessment that “The deletion of this text is directly negative for biodiversity, water, population, landscape, soil/ landuse.” the deletion proposed in amendment 5.20 not be made.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending this amendment which deletes strict criteria to be met for quarrying.)
Public transport routes
For background, please see my posts relating to these routes
SH7.7 Public transport reservation Swords to Donabate
That the proposed amendment to insert a public transport reservation Swords to Donabate be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
SH9.12 Public transport reservation from Metro West alignment to Balgriffin
That the proposed amendment to insert a public transport reservation – Metro West alignment aka Light Rail Corridor to Balgriffin – be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
SH9.13 Public transport reservation from Balgriffin to Portmarnock
That the proposed amendment to insert a public transport reservation – Balgriffin to Portmarnock – be confirmed
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)

Amendments to County Development Plan

Fingal County Council is currently preparing the County Development Plan to run from 2017 to 2023. The Draft Plan was on public display between February and April 2016 and a report on the over 900 responses received was supplied to Councillors at the end of July.

As Councillors we had until yesterday, 6th September, to draft proposals to amend the Plan based on the public consultation.  Those  amendments which the Council agrees to will go on public display in November.

I submitted amendments to a wide range of topics in the plan. A copy of my proposed amendments is here. In order to make them easy to navigate I have grouped them into the following topics:

  • On Special Amenity Area Order and Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve
  • On cycle pedestrian routes to be added to the map
  • On public transport reservation from Clongriffin/Portmarnock – Balgriffin – Belcamp – Clonshaugh to metro reservations south of Dublin Airport
  • In relation to the Moyne Road bypass proposal based on discussions at the previous stage of the Development Plan and in response to submissions by the developer of the adjoining residentially zoned land and Portmarnock Community Association
  • On the zoning of the industrial estates beside Howth Junction railway station based on issues I raised at the previous stage of the Plan and a submission from a local business.
  • On the process for sub-county level plans based on the experience of Fingal councillors and citizens as well as submissions from public authorities including the National Transport Authority
  • Based on Fáilte Ireland’s submission
  • In relation to the circular economy and sustainable resource use
  • In response to the submission by Keep Ireland Open, Fáilte Ireland and others concerned with access to the countryside
  • Based on concerns about Fingal’s approach to open space in high density development, an issue raised both by developers and residents
  • On the transition to a low carbon climate resilient economy, a legal obligation of the Plan under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act and raised in a range of submissions
  • On adaptation to climate change
  • On Ecosystem Services Approach
  • Transport motions based on a range of submissions by local road users and public transport users and the NTA
  • Motion incorporating text from the Dublin City Development plan in relation to cycle parking as recommended by the submission from the National Transport Authority
  • In relation to cycling in response to a wide range of submissions seeking better and safer cycling insfrastructure.
  • Based on text in the National Cycling Policy Framework, to which some of the submissions refer.

Response to consultation on draft County Development Plan

My response to the draft Fingal Development Plan and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Plan is here.

The main issues in my consultation response were sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, transport, car-oriented development, cycling, road proposals, aviation, building energy use, and renewable energy. A recurrent theme under many of these headings was the lack of actual assessment in the SEA report.

As Councillors, we will receive a report on all consultations responses in July and based on that feedback can submit amendments to the plan in August for meetings in September. I would welcome any feedback on the issues in my submission or on or any other aspect of the Development Plan.

Legal question over Apartment Standards

We had an extensive discussion during the meetings on the draft Development Plan on the new Apartment Standards which have been centrally dictated by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

The key advice from officials was that whatever Councillors thought of the standards, we were legally obliged to implement them in the plan. (See webcast at at 1h30 to 2h09 and 2h21 to 2h30).

However, there may be a problem with the legal status of those Standards. I have sent the following note to Fingal’s Chief Executive and as a result, the Council is getting legal advice:

My attention has been drawn to a legal question over the Apartments Standards issued by the Minister for the Environment in December and whether they are covered by the amendment to s.28 of the Planning and Development Act. There is a risk that our discussions last month may have been based on an incorrect understanding of the legislation.

The Apartment Standards of 22nd December​ 2015​ refer specifically to s. 28 of the P&D Act 2000 as amended:

“1.10 These guidelines have been issued by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála, are required to have regard to the guidelines and to apply any specific planning policy requirements of the guidelines, in carrying out their functions.”

​(They then go on to identify various policies as “specific planning policy requirements”​.)

The Planning and Development Amendment Act 2015 which amended s.28 (to oblige planning authorities to apply “specific planning policy requirements”​) was enacted on 29th December​ 2015​. So the requirements referred to in 1.10 of the guidelines didn’t have the legal significance they claimed​ at the time when they were adopted​.​

​This raises a series of legal questions, including: Must the guidelines be interpreted under the law as it was at the time when they were published? Alternatively, can the law as it is now be correctly used to retrospectively interpret and ​indeed ​make intelligible the guidelines, despite the fact that when they were enacted they actually didn’t mean what they claimed to mea​n? Given that legislation generally cannot be retrospective, is it possible for it to have retrospective effect in this manner? The answer to these questions may raise constitutional​ separation of powers issues​, such as whether the executive​ can​ validly presume what the legislature will do​.

​Obviously this is a matter of some complexity and I think it is essential that legal advice be sought. This has an uncontestable bearing on the validity of the Development Plan process as I know a number of my colleagues voted for amendments to bring the Draft Plan into line with the guidelines specifically due to the advice that we as a Council are legally required to implement the guidelines and not on the substance of the issue covered in the text being amended.