DCC Notes for SEAC meeting, September 2019

Image of the proposed Avestus apartment development from Donnybrook Bridge. Image: Newenham Mulligan & Associates architects / Dublin City Council Planning Department.

Compiled by Dermot Carmody

A busy South East Area Committee (SEAC) meeting on September 9th featured four presentations given to councillors on various matters. These were on the Poddle Flood Alleviation Scheme, the planning application for a replacement development on the site of Jefferson House at the end of Eglington Road in Donnybrook, arrangements for UEFA 2020 in Dublin and an update on the Neighbourhood Transport Scheme.

Mr. David Grant, the project manager of the Poddle Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) gave the context for the scheme in terms of historical flooding events related to the Poddle, the most recent being in 2011.

Mr. Grant outlined the challenges to the FAS scheme including access to works, the large number of stakeholders, 25 different groups in all and the high level of public interest in the wake of the severe flooding in some areas in 2011. He also highlighted the benefits of the scheme; including flood protection for 800 homes, improved water quality and biodiversity benefits.

Mr. Grant reported that draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Draft Planning Drawings were submitted in June and that the Part 10 planning application (required as the scheme is over 2 km long) will be submitted in Q3 of 2019. The start of construction is estimated for mid-2020 and the 18-24 month project will cost in the region of €7 million.

Councillors raised a number of related points, including Cllr Mary Freehill (LAB), who pointed out that residents in Harold’s Cross affected by previous flooding still cannot get home insurance, She suggested letters of comfort regarding the works of the FAS in progress might help in this regard. However, Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) pointed out that, in the case of residents affected by flooding in the Sandymount and Ballsbridge areas, such letters had little impact on their ability to get insurance. “I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one,” he advised. Mr. Gerard O’Connell, DCC Flood Protection Project Leader told Cllr Freehill that letters of comfort would be issued when the works were completed.

Cllr Mannix Flynn (IND) claimed that a lot of flooding was as a result of no maintenance having been carried out and made a general point about the level of contaminants flowing from all sources into the Liffey, which he described as “a pure and absolute sewer.” Mr. O’Connell responded that work had been done to avoid blockages, including doubling of screens and the addition of level monitors. He said there hasn’t been a problem with screens on the Poddle since 2011.

High Rise Development in Donnybrook

Ms. Elaine Sullivan, Area Planner for the South East Area, gave a presentation to councillors on the current planning application for an 11-storey over basement apartment block on the site of the current Jefferson House office building on the south corner of Eglington Road and Donnybrook Road. The proposed development includes 62 apartments. The existing basement carpark will be expanded to provide 20 car parking spaces and 72 bike parking spaces. There would be a further 22 bike spaces at the ground level.

A number of councillors commented adversely on the height of the proposed new development. Cllr Hazel Chu (GP) pointed out that there is an eight-story building proposed on the north corner of Eglington Road and Donnybrook Road opposite the Jefferson House site and suggested the tall buildings would lead to an undesirable “valley effect”.

Little love was in evidence for the existing building, with Cllr James Geoghan (FG) saying its demolition “should be unanimously welcomed by anyone with eyes, because it’s the ugliest building in the whole of Donnybrook.” However, Cllr Geoghan was also concerned at the height of the proposed new building, which he said  would represent a “significant change to the Donnybrook landscape.” Cllr Mannix Flynn (Ind) agreed that the building would destroy the neighbourhood. Expressing his personal affection for the village, Cllr Flynn opined that “you might as well stick a car bomb in here and blow it up.” He urged councillors to object to the planning.

Cllr Mary Freehill (Lab) pointed out that the height of the proposed building is greater than that envisaged in the Development Plan but noted that “we have a government hell-bent on overriding the development plan.” She also expressed concern about the possibility of flooding in the proposed basement car park, as the site is adjacent to the Dodder. Answering these points, Ms Sullivan said that the height restrictions in the Development Plan have been superseded by government guidelines on height and apartment sizes. She said a flood impact statement for the building has been submitted and will be assessed by the Drainage Department.

Ms. Sullivan also responded to Cllr Danny Byrne (FG), who had suggested that 64 apartments would require, by his reckoning, some 100 parking spaces rather than the 20 proposed. Ms. Sullivan noted that ministerial guidelines do not require there to be a parking space for every apartment and that the developer has proposed car clubs and car sharing in the scheme.

Cllr Flynn’s motion recommending rejection of the proposed development was adopted, despite an objection from Cllr Geoghan, who suggested alternative wording simply noting the opinion of councillors. He criticised the motion as being “just politics.” However, Cllr Dermot Lacey (LAB) in the chair, pointed out that although he agreed such a motion has no legal standing in the planning process, said that it was consistent with a long-standing practice of the SEAC, albeit that this has not been the case recently.

UEFA Euro 2020 in Dublin

Mr. Don Daly, DCC Euro 2020 Project Manager gave a presentation on the city’s plans for a “festival of football” based around the four matches in the UEFA Euro 2020 Finals being hosted in the Aviva Stadium in June next year.

Over 120,000 overseas visitors are expected in Dublin for the matches, and a benefit of over €100 million to the local economy is anticipated. DCC will be organising events around the city and will be responsible for ‘Fanzones’ where those without tickets can gather to enjoy the matches as well as the promotion of the event to the wider community and ensuring those attending have the best experience possible.

Dublin is being promoted as a walking city, with spectators being encouraged to walk to the stadium, something facilitated by the Aviva Stadium being unusually close to the city centre. Councillors broadly welcomed the plans and the opportunity for the city.

Cllr Chris Andrews (SF) noted the huge tradition of football in Ringsend, and asked whether the Irishtown Stadium would be used during the event. Mr. Daly responded that Ringsend Stadium would be used as a volunteer centre and for bike parking.

In answer to Cllr Kevin Donoghue (Lab), who expressed concern about the condition of some of the pathways on the route between the City Centre and the stadium in Lansdowne Road, Mr. Daly said he was still working with the Traffic Department, the Gardai and other stakeholders on the particulars of the walking routes.

Neighbourhood Transport Scheme Update

DCC Neighbourhood Transport Engineer Andrew Duff presented an update on the scheme. He explained the criteria for the prioritising of response to the high volume of requests for traffic calming measures around the city using Multiple Criteria Analysis. He assured councillors with concerns about measures being sought in specific locations that he would now begin immediately the process of getting in touch with all councillors individually. 

Racially Motivated Abuse Condemned

The meeting concluded by unanimously supporting a motion to condemn “in the strongest terms all forms of ethnic and racially motivated abuse.” The motion was signed by Councillors James Geoghegan, Claire Byrne, Hazel Chu and Patrick Costello and was a response to the recent attacks made on Cllr Chu (GP), particularly on social media, which made reference to her ethnicity.

Proposing the motion, Cllr Geoghan said that “when a politician is attacked on racial or ethnic grounds it should be noted and condemned. Cllr Pat Dunne (United Left), who was in part responsible for instigating the motion said that such abuse was “an attempt to try and isolate public representatives based on their background and is done in a way to stir up racial hatred in this city.” Cllr Dunne said we have to stand up against such attempts in every forum at every opportunity.