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
June
2005                               

Applicant: Ballymore Residential Ltd Fonthill House, Old Lucan Road, Palmerstown, Dublin 20
Location:               
Mayne Townland, Baldoyle, Dublin 13
Proposed
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.
It
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
The
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.”
2.
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
Plan.
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”
This
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
spaces. 
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)
“In
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.”
 “The
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
person.
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
a)    
to note that the original application indicated with a blue line the
“overall landholding”, including all or almost all of the parkland area
b)    
 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. 
The
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
Plan.
This also results in it being a contravention of the Development Plan.
There
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.
The
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.
4.
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
 “The
applicant should be requested to reduce the height of the hotel to no
more than three storey and to submit revised visual impact
assessment/photomontage” 
What was actually sought as additional information was
“the
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
provided”
So no revised photomontages were requested or supplied.  The original EIS contains only 3 photomontages.
To
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.”
The
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
The
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
users.
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