Monthly Archives: July 2005

Draft Local Area Plan for Portmarnock

The Planning Department has produced a draft Local Area Plan for the
land south-east of Portmarnock Railway Station.  Together with
Robbie Kelly the Green councillor for Malahide ward, I have prepared a
submission which points out that the draft fails to address many of the
most important issues in the area.  A copy of our submission

Submission in relation to Portmarnock local area plan
Cllrs. David Healy and Robbie Kelly, Green Party

are making this submission at this early stage because we believe that
there is a considerable amount of further work to do in relation to the
Local Area Plan. This is work shich we as councillors are not in a
position to do ourselves.  Additionally, given the statutory
framework within which we must work, amendments to the draft Plan must
be made within a tight timeframe which would not allow for a process of
further research to develop those amendments. 
this basis we are making this submission in the hope that the necessary
research will be carried out in time to make the changes we believe are
In general we feel that the Local Area Plan is
lacking in important details in a number of significant respects. 
We deal below with various thematic areas, but in general we feel that
most of what is in the plan is of itself good, but is insufficiently
detailed and clear.  In fact, the plan contains very little
additional to the County Development Plan.  Given that the area is
zoned RS1, the obligation to make a plan must mean doing something
significantly more detailed than the County Development Plan.  We
note from the meeting held between the planning department and the
landowners on 23rd September 2004, that the landowners have had input
into this plan.  We are not clear to what extent and would be
grateful if this could be clarified.  Some of the suggestions such
as that on “coastal aspect” appear to contravene provisions of the
County Development Plan.
Biodiversity – Do biodiversity surveys and use the information gathered
in order to draw up the design of the local area plan and of the
adjacent parkland/green belt area.
The area is being
converted from farmland to medium density residential.  If
properly planned this can lead to an increase in biodiversity and have
a positive effect on the area. 
However, without
planning this will not necessarily be the case.  There is a risk
that unless biodiversity sites are identified, they could  be
obliterated in the building process.  Additionally, simple
recreational pressure could impact on biodiversity in the surrounding
area.  If the amenity areas surrounding the housing are not
planned, then people will create their own walking routes, which could
put pressure on biodiversity.  The development has the potential
for negative impacts on surface water systems, including the local
rivers and wetlands which are otter/salmonid habitat and on water
quality and bird activity in Baldoyle Estuary which is subject to
multiple designations because of its ecological importance.
it is essential that the full biodiversity studies and subsequent
design work for this area and for the Millennnium Park go ahead
now.  The carrying out of such studies is mandated to be part of
the development of Local Area Plans in Action 70 of the Fingal Heritage
Plan, adopted by the Council on 11th July 2005.
There is no
plan for the Millennium park area, no plan for the northern part of the
high amenity area.  Insofar as there are areas of the Green Belt
which are not to be part of the Millennium Park, there is no plan as to
what their planned uses are.
The plan should identify
biodiversity features for retention/ incorporation in open space and
wildlife areas in the plan. This includes streams, hedgerows, bat
habitats, badger setts, etc.  The value of the railway as a
wildlife corridor should be considered and the ecological links between
the green belt area, the Sluice Marsh and Baldoyle Estuary should all
be part of the biodiversity component of the Local Area Plan.
seeds should be gathered in autumn 2005 and/or autumn 2006 for use in
planting on finished development. We understand that Forest Friends and
Conservation Volunteers Ireland, among other NGOs are involved in seed
collection and might be able to assist.
Now is also the
time for contact with NGOs such as Birdwatch in relation to maximising
the amenity value of the parkland and coastal walk for the general
public, including birdwatchers, while protecting birds on the Estuary.
Visual impact – Do land contour maps and visibility analysis to
determine appropriate site ground levels and building heights in order
to meet the Development Plan Objective 234
Objective 234: “The visual impact on the Green Belt of this new housing
in Portmarnock will be minimised by its siting, design and by planting”
necessary information must be mapped and analysed in order to meet this
objective.  Post –development ground levels and building heights
at various locations within the area must be determined using analyses
of visibility from various locations, in order to maintain the visual
break between Baldoyle and Portmarnock.
We note that the
minutes of the meeting between the planners and the landowners
regarding Portmarnock Action Area Plan held on 23rd September 2004
include the following:
“The planners stated that a section
on Design needs to be incorporated into the LAP, to include;- building
height 2 storey with some 3/3 ½ at visual locations, boulevard design
of the streets (not roads) in the development, also design of open
space and how the development addresses the edges of the LAP (open
space, roads, train track etc.)
Unfortunately this has not
been done.   However the draft LAP does refer to maximising
views from the houses, which would appear to be in contravention of
Objective 234 above.
Building designs – Require high standards of design and construction to
meet energy efficiency, renewable energy, water efficiency and other
sustainability criteria.
We propose inclusion of provisions such as the following:
residential development will attain high standards of energy efficiency
and environmental sustainibility, including the following:
–    bio-climatic site design,
–    water conservation,
–    ventilation,
–    energy efficient strategies for housing design,
–    daylight analysis,
–    design of group heating system.
–  high insulation standards
new buildings will meet the minimum low energy performance standards
(as defined below) as a prerequisite to receiving planning approval
(calculation report to be submitted with the planning application).
Each building’s energy performance calculation must be demonstrated on
the basis of a simple approved method (e.g. EN 832) carried out by
qualified or accredited experts.  Low energy buildings are defined
as building with an annual heating requirement (space and  water
heating) not exceeding 50 kWh/m2 of useful floor area.
development will utilise renewable energy supply systems to meet at
least 30% of the buildings space and water heating requirements as
calculated on the basis of an approved method carried out by qualified
or accredited experts.”
The buildings should be
required to incorporate provisions for reducing water use including low
flow fittings (toilets, taps, shower heads) and provisions for reuse of
rainwater and/or greywater for flushing toilets etc.
Transport – Display proposed street network for all road users as well
as specific extra provision for pedestrians and cyclists where
We would point out the overriding importance
of creating a walkable community in order to build social capital and
public health (Leyden, 2003).
The correct transport approach for a new residential area is set out quite effectively in the
Plan in terms of giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists. It is not
so much about providing segregated facilities as about ensuring that
traffic speeds and volumes are low. 
However, this
is not being implemented in many of the designs proposed by
developers.   If the Development Plan is to be made
effective, the Local Area Plan should include the street layout. 
It is only by seeing a layout that statements such as that in the draft
plan that
“All new residential units within the plan area will be within 10 minutes walking distance of the station”
can be believed.
There should be no roundabouts, as these discourage pedestrians.
The suggestion that the existing bus routes in the area will continue to use the Coast Road (not

Strand Rd.

as stated) and new bus routes will serve the development is not credible.

5.         Drainage
SUDS-based drainage to be used in the area should be developed to an
outline stage for the Local Area Plan, not just stated as a generality
with no more details than in the County Development Plan.
6.         (Farmers’) Market
plan should specifically incorporate provision for a marketplace, on
public land taken in charge by the County Council, as this is one of
the traditional functions of a local authority and an essential element
of strengthening the local food economy.
7.         Shops
total area of shops planned for should be specified in the plan at a
level to meet the needs of the expected number of residents.  We
support the clustering of these shops at the Dart Station.
Kevin, 2003, Social Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance
of Walkable Neighborhoods Am J Public Health.2003; 93: 1546-1551
David Healy       
Cllr. Robbie Kelly
12th July 2005

Appeal against proposed hotel in Baldoyle Green Belt

Despite my objection (see website entry in March 2005), Fingal County
Council has decided to grant permission for the proposed Hotel in the
middle of the Green Belt.  I have appealed this decision to An
Bord Pleanála, with fellow councillors Robbie Kelly (Green) Joan Maher
(FG) and Peter Coyle (Labour) appealled the decision (read here). 
We are currently waiting for a decision by An Bord Pleanála.  The
text of the appeal follows.

54, Páirc Éabhóra,
Beann Éadair,
B.Á.C. 13
4th July 2005
The Secretary, An Bord Pleanála,
64, Marlborough Street,
Dublin 1
Appeal in relation to F05A/0231, decision to grant on 8th

Applicant: Ballymore Residential Ltd Fonthill House, Old Lucan Road, Palmerstown, Dublin 20
Mayne Townland, Baldoyle, Dublin 13
Development:      Development on a site of
3.75 hectares.  The development will consist of a hotel 4 storeys
in height, plus a roof-top level restaurant with terrace; with three
storeys of bedrooms containing 150 bedrooms over ground floor level
bars, restaurants, meeting rooms; smokers terraces; spa, wellness and
beauty facility; part ground floor mezzanine for administration
offices; 2 storey sports centre with indoor swimming pool, sauna and
steam room; gymnasium and fitness facility with juice bar, dance
studio, creche; snooker/billiard room; 2 no. square courts, floodlit
outdoor artificial surface multi-use sports area, 2,304 square metres
in extent, with 10no. 12 metre high light standards fitted with
downlight luminaires; Conference;Banqueting facility for approximately
350 people; car parking for 311 cars; 3 no. bus parking bays; cycle
parking and service access; walled entrance forecourt area, pools,
terraced gardens, landscaping, garden pavilion and boundary treatments;
plant enclosures, electricity substation; basement level swimming pool
plant and keg store; underground surface water attenuation tank; and
all associated ancillary works.  The development proposal provides
for the construction of a new access road leading north from Mayne
Road, providing vehicular access to the western side of the proposed
development; and for carriageway realignment and local improvements at
the proposed junction on
Mayne Road

to accommodate a right turning lane.

A chairde,
We wish to appeal the above decision on the following grounds:
1. The application is a material contravention of the zonings in the current Development Plan.
has been suggested that it is in compliance with a Local Area Plan or a
Master Plan for the area.   In fact, it is not, as evidenced
from the plans themselves and from the reports of the Planning
Department and Parks Department of Fingal County Council. 
However, in law, neither of these can override the statutory
Development Plan. 
This site is zoned OS To provide
for open space and recreational amenities.  It was formerly zoned
Green Belt.   The proposed hotel development is not in
keeping with either of these zonings.
This is not the
location indicated in the Development Plan for an “integrated
tourism/recreational complex (excluding housing component), public park
and retirement home”.  Please note that the location for this
objective (Objective 155 on 1999 plan and objective 294 on 2005 plan)
is on the former Baldoyle Racecourse at the very south east of the
parkland/green belt.
In any event, the development applied
for is not an “integrated tourism/recreational complex”.  It is a
hotel with a swimming pool and tennis courts.  It’s primary use
will be standard hotel uses with “leisure facility” uses added
on.  The  Council even considered (Additional Information
Request) that the scale of the hotel, … is …
disproportionate to the recreational facilities provided” This is not
the same thing as an integrated tourism recreational complex.  The
application is essentially for a standard large hotel complex on a
small site.  It does not meet the criteria for an integrated tourism/recreational complex set out at 3.6.4 of the 1999 Development Plan, criteria which I cannot find in the 2005 Plan
proposed hotel would also be a material contravention of both the 1999
Development Plan and the 2005 Development Plan, both of which state:
“Only development relating to recreational activities to be permitted in the OS zoning between Portmarnock and Baldoyle.”
The application is not part of a coherent plan for the entire
area.  As such it is in breach of the requirements of the Area
We have met with considerable confusion in relation to the existence and status of various local plans for the area.
The following documents exist:
“Baldoyle Portmarnock Action Plan, October 2000”
We think this is in fact a draft plan.   It does not specify locations for Integrated Tourism/Recreational Complex”
Fingal County Council Baldoyle and Portmarnock Action Area Plan”. 
This was adopted in November 2001.  It appears to be derived from
the 2000 plan but there are significant changes from that (draft) plan,
the most important of which are the identification of two sites for
Integrated Tourism Recreation Complex Components (as well as one site
for Retirement Home), one of which is the current site.
 “Master Plan”
is referred to in the Planner’s report (p. 7) but Fingal County Council
is unable to find a copy.  However, there is a map in the EIS
apparently extracted from this master plan.  This shows something
very different to the development proposed in the application. 
There is a small building on part of the site with 56 car parking
spaces, linked to the new Stapolin area by a footpath and cycleway,
showing a minor access road and no road access north.  This is
significantly different to the current application which occupies the
entirety of the site and has 311 car parking space, plus 3 bus parking
What is shown on the Master Plan map
extracted in the EIS is in keeping with the normal meaning of the words
“Integrated Tourism and Recreation Complex.”  It would be
instructive to learn when the interpretation of these words changed.
The planner’s report states (p.7)
short, while the designation is for an integrated tourism/recreational
facility, the proposed development does not appear to be in any way
integrated into the surrounding landscape and its proposed uses within
the Action Plan  This is contrary to the intention of the Action
Plan and the application should be requested to demonstrate how the
proposed development would be integrated into the parkland area and
into the residential aspect of the action plan.”
delivery of the millennium park has not yet been agreed with the
Planning Authority and this is the cause of some concern.  The
proposal to further develop the lands without any plan in place for the
millennium park could be considered as premature…. To ensure that the
proposed development is not premature and is developed in the context
of the millennium park i.e. within the parkland, the applicant 
should be requested to submit additional information indicating the
proposed phasing of development including the parkland and open space
areas, all within the applicant’s control.”
This additional
information was sought and the response to this was that the current
applicant has no control over the parkland which is owned by another
The Parks Department correctly point out that “The
current proposals cannot be assessed in isolation and must be
considered in the context of the surrounding parkland and the
provisions of the agreed Action Plan”
The planner’s response to the additional information was
to note that the original application indicated with a blue line the
“overall landholding”, including all or almost all of the parkland area
 to recommend that a condition be inserted that no development
would take place until such time as agreement has been reached with the
Council on the mechanism for delivery of the Millennium park. 
problem with addressing this by condition is that the granting of the
permission for the hotel will predetermine many design options for the
park, the design of which has not yet been considered.  Indeed
there has as yet, as detailed by the Parks Department in their report
of 27th May, been no consultation with the Council or local
residents and other relevant associations in relation to the design of
the park.
3. The application is at a
location not served by public transport and not adjacent to developed
areas.  As such it is a material contravention of the Development
This also results in it being a contravention of the Development Plan.
is a suggestion that 40% of the traffic to the hotel will be by modes
other than cars.  There is no public transport access to the site.
The site is distant from any centres of population.  Pedestrian
access is by rural roads with fast traffic and no footpaths.  An
Bord Pleanála might like to compare this prediction with current modal
split at other isolated hotels in Fingal (such as Roganstown House in
Swords), in order to determine how ridiculous it is.
siting of this hotel at this location not served by public transport is
in clear conflict with the ABC location policy of the County
Development Plan, set out on Table 4.9 of the Plan.
The application is large and visually obtrusive in a designated
sensitive landscape.  As such it is a material contravention of
the Development Plan.
The site is part of a
specifically designated sensitive landscape, which means that it is
subject to the policy HP34 “To protect sensitive landscapes from
inappropriate development and to reinforce their character,
distinctiveness and sense of place.”
The planner’s report states
applicant should be requested to reduce the height of the hotel to no
more than three storey and to submit revised visual impact
What was actually sought as additional information was
applicant is requested to omit one floor from the hotel development.
This will reduce the main bulk of the building to three storeys in
height and will reduce the number of bedrooms in the hotel to
approximately 100.  The applicant is also requested to minimise
the proposed projection of any sky restaurant to no more than 1500mm
above the main flat roof.  This will have the effect of reducing
both the height of the building and the scale of the hotel, which is
considered to be disproportionate to the recreational facilities
So no revised photomontages were requested or supplied.  The original EIS contains only 3 photomontages.
allow such a large development in the middle of this green belt would
destroy the visual break between Baldoyle and Portmarnock, undermining
the basis of the Green Belt designation at this area.  It is worth
noting that the Development Plan specifies that
“the visual impact on the Green Belt of this new housing in Baldoyle will be minimised by its siting design and by planting.”
fact that it did not make any reference to the more severe visual
impact of this hotel development is, of course, due to the fact that
the Development Plan did not envisage any such hotel development in the
Green Belt.
5. The design of the “cycle facility” is in breach of the DoE Manual
proposed cycle-tracks shown on the plans are in breach of the
Department of the Environment/DTO  Manual “Provision of Cycle
Facilities National Manual for Urban Areas”.  The planning
authority, and An Bord Pleanála on appeal, are responsible for ensuring
that the road design meets appropriate standards and are safe for road
We enclose the appropriate €210 fee and
acknowledgement of Cllr. Healy’s submission to the Council in relation
to the application.
Is sinne, le meas,
Cllr. David Healy
Cllr. Robbie Kelly
Cllr. Joan Maher
Cllr. Peter Coyl