Today, the Council voted by 20 votes to 3 to approve the material contravention for the Edros site. I and my Green colleagues supported the proposal, as did the other two Howth ward Councillors. The proposal enables the development of residential housing and a café on this amenity-zoned site. Normally I would not accept that an amenity site could be used for residential development. However, in this instance an alternative site for a major new community facility has been identified and €2million is to be paid by the developer towards the construction of a new community facility on that site.
The agreed site is as part of the overall site at Baltray between
Baltray Park and the Techcrete/Teelings site, including the City
Council-owned depot. The City Council has committed to transfer the
depot site and that gives sufficient space for a major community
facility. However, the Planning Department is committed to working
with the Techcrete site developer to incorporate the community facility
into the overall development in the most appropriate manner. This will
mean maximising accessibility from the Dart station and the town of
Howth and also taking advantage of the potential for a link across the
railway line to Baltray beach.
The Edros site was the site of a community facility which operated from the 1970s until the 1990s, when it became insolvent and was sold to a private developer to pay its creditors. Since then it has lain derelict.
Until Friday I felt that the plans for community facilities were not sufficiently advanced to enable Councillors to support the proposed Edros material contravention. I have been communicating this to Council officials for about a year, including by objection to the planning file and up to last Friday fully expected to be opposing the material contravention vote today.
I do appreciate that some Howth residents are unhappy about the design of the proposal. I have never seen this as the main objection. I do feel the design is of a high architectural quality and I’m hopeful that it will work out well.
The other consideration raised today was a suggestion that the €2million was not enough of a contribution. This hadn’t been put to me before and on balance I think it’s probably correct – we probably should have sought more money for the community facilities. However, €2 million was an increase on what was previously on offer and on balance I think our decision was a good one.
I enclose below the email I sent to the Council officials and my fellow Howth ward councillors which gives I think the full picture of our discussions on Friday.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: David Healy / Daithí Ó hÉalaithe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Jan 11, 2008 7:33 PM
Subject: Community facilities in Howth, Edros site
To: Pat Queenan <email@example.com>, Peter Caulfield <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Gilbert Power <email@example.com>, Jmaher <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Michael Joe Cosgrave <email@example.com>
Dear Pat, Peter, Gilbert, Joan, Michael Joe,
Thank you for the constructive discussion today and the work that has been done in the background. It is encouraging that progress has been made to a degree which honestly i hadn’t expected.
I am hopeful that we will be able to come to an agreement on Monday. I just wanted to make a note of the basis on which our discussions today indicated we are likely to come to an agreement.
1. The agreed site for the major community facility is in the Baltray area between the tennis courts and Teelings (inclusive). This is agreed by the Penfacs committee, the County Manager, and, hopefully on Monday, the elected Council.
2. The City Manager will commit to proposing to his Council to transfer the Baltray depot site to the County Council subject to the condition that either it is to be used for community facilities itself or it is to be incorporated in an overall development site within which at an area at least as big would be dedicated to community facilities.
3. The applicant for the Edros site will commit to a €2m contribution to these community facilities in the light of the fact that their development is on an amenity-zoned site used up to now for community facilities. This contribution will be paid in instalments over 2 years from the granting of the material contravention even if the development takes longer to complete.
4. The Council’s Planning and Community Departments, the team working on the Urban Centre Strategy, and Penfacs will liaise with the Techcrete site owner in relation to integration of the community facility in the overall site between the tennis courts and Teelings and in relation to the level of contribution to the community facility from the Techcrete development itself. The Community Department will continue to work with Penfacs to progress the plans and will report back to the Area Committee regularly.
It would be important for the documentation for points 2 and 3 to be supplied and for points 1 and 4 to be reflected in the Manager’s Report, in order to form a solid basis for the Council’s vote.