Entries are made under date beginning with the
most recent. Subjects and issues are entered in alphabetical order.
DCRA Planning - History 18.02.02
Planning Fundamentally Flawed
Because the Regional Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area
are, according to a High Court Judicial Review, "fundamentally flawed",
they de facto provide local authorities with a licence to zone lands and
develop them without constraint or penalty.
Planning Authorities are required only "to have regard to"
regional planning guidelines. Compliance is not required. The decision
on zoning by Laois County Council proves the point that compliance with
the National Spatial Strategy and Regional Planning Guidelines is not
required under current legislation.
The phrase "to have regard to" does not compel compliance.
Those who decide not to comply cannot be required to do so and cannot
be punished. The responsibility to give any credence to existing planning
legislation is the Minister for the Environment who can exercise his power
to reverse zonings. He is asking local authorities to recognise the "logic
of the situation" and behave compliantly - I ask you!
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A spree of rezoning
Meath County Council didn't pay enough heed to planning guidelines, writes
Frank McDonald, Environment Editor
Meath County Council paid scant attention to the Greater Dublin Area Strategic
Planning Guidelines (SPGs) when it rezoned land for an "enormous
population increase" - and that's official. A High Court judge found
the guidelines were barely considered at all in this scramble to satisfy
landowners and developers.
Mr Justice Quirke was delivering his judgment last September in a judicial
review case brought by Tony McEvoy, an independent member of Kildare County
Council, and Michael Smith, national chairman of An Taisce, who had sought
to have the Meath county plan struck down because it failed to have due
regard to the Strategic Planning Guidelines.
Updated guidelines, published in April 2000, envisaged Co Meath's population
would grow from 109,700 in 1996 to 139,500 in 2006. But the councillors
subsequently rezoned so much land for residential development that the
population could reach 195,000 by 2006 and 242,000 by 2011 - way above
the SPG targets.
Minutes of 50 meetings showed the guidelines were "rarely if ever
discussed or referred to" while councillors were considering submissions
to have land rezoned for housing, Mr Justice Quirke said. Instead, the
decisions they made "appear to have been influenced more by pressure
and lobbying exerted by interested parties".
Even the overall acreage of land rezoned is difficult to quantify, as
maps produced during consideration of the county plan did not have any
figures attached. But it was clear from last year's census that the county's
population had increased by 22 per cent since 1996 to 133,936 - not far
short of the revised target figure for 2006.
Although Navan was the only town identified in the SPGs for any growth
other than to meet "local needs", the judge said the councillors
had "decided to zone large amounts of land for residential purposes
in dozens of small towns in a manner which appears to be quite inconsistent
with the recommendations of the guidelines".
The evidence "strongly suggests that in a number of respects the
Co Meath plan does not comply with the guidelines and indeed that in some
of its provisions it has substantially departed from the guidelines' policies
and objectives", he said. "In many instances, 'local interests'
appear to have overcome the concept of 'local needs'."
Take Dunboyne, for example. Here, councillors pressed ahead with the rezoning
of nearly 100 acres of land for housing, some of it located in the floodplain
of the River Tolka, despite massive opposition from the local community.
The 2002 census showed that Dunboyne's population increased by nearly
42 per cent (to 7,755) since 1996.
On the same day as the county council was voting through these rezonings
- November 6th, 2000 - Dunboyne was cut off from the outside world, surrounded
by floods on all sides, with many homes under a metre of water. Some of
the worst affected houses had been built in the previous four years on
the floodplain of the Castle River.
The six local councillors - Mary Bergin (FG), Oliver Brookes (FF), John
Fanning (FG), Brian Fitzgerald (Ind, ex-Labour), Nick Killian (FF), and
Conor Tormey (FF) - voted for and even sponsored most of the rezonings,
against the advice of Co Meath's professional planners, the wishes of
residents and the thrust of the Strategic Planning Guidelines.
It was not as if the councillors were ignorant. In November
1999, before embarking on their rezoning spree, they were given a special
presentation on the significance of the SPGs by Niall Cussen, a senior
planner from the Department of the Environment, who also outlined their
obligations to "have regard to" these guidelines.
The county manager, Joe Horan, was - and still is - a member of the steering
committee which helped to prepare the SPGs and oversees their implementation.
The county council is also represented on the technical working group
for the guidelines and by two councillors on the local and regional authority
In December 2000, after it became apparent that the Co Meath plan was
at odds with the guidelines, Mary Moylan, assistant secretary in charge
of the Department of the Environment's planning division, wrote a detailed
letter reminding the county council it was required to ensure that its
plan was in line with the guidelines.
But whatever concerns the then Minister (Noel Dempsey) had about the zoning
of so much land for development, it is clear these were short-lived. In
February 2001, after receiving a response from the council, Moylan wrote
back to say it was now the Minister's view that the plan was "substantially
in compliance" with the SPGs.
How could that be true, especially in the case of Clonee? Here, right
alongside the boundary with Co Dublin, the county councillors rezoned
250 acres of land for a "Gateway to Meath" business park. Not
only would this undermine Navan becoming self-sufficient, it would also
negate the SPGs' designation of Clonee as part of the greenbelt.
The re-opening of the disused railway line between Dublin and Navan was
also proposed by the guidelines to enhance the town's role as a development
centre. However, it does not feature as a priority in the Strategic Rail
Review, despite John Bruton's complaint that people in Co Meath were wasting
more and more time in traffic jams on the N3.
In the High Court, the principal author of the guidelines, Michael Grace
of Brady Shipman Martin, endorsed the view of McEvoy and Smith that the
elected members and officials of Meath County Council had "fundamentally
misunderstood" the SPGs and the manner in which they should be applied
in the context of the county plan.
The problem, of course, was that the council was only required to "have
regard to" the guidelines. And as the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Keane,
ruled in another case (Glencar Exploration v. Mayo County Council), to
"have regard to" particular policies or objectives does not
mean that a planning authority is obliged to implement them.
Although Mr Justice Quirke found the nature and extent of the consideration
given by Meath councillors to the SPGs in the zoning of land for housing
"gives rise to concern and indeed unease", he was not satisfied
McEvoy and Smith had established that the council had failed to "have
regard to" the guidelines.
However, the judge accepted they had "acted solely by way of furtherance
of a valid public interest in the environment" and ordered that the
county council should pay half of their legal costs and expenses in taking
the case. Including its own costs in fighting the action, the council
might have to foot a bill of up to €500,000.
The only way it could be compelled to ensure its county plan complies
with the SPGs would be for the Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen,
to use his power under Section 31 of the 2000 Planning Act to require
that plan complies with the policies and objectives of the guidelines.
But there is no indication that Cullen will do so.
Threatening to seek an order of mandamus to compel him to act, McEvoy
and Smith said the Minister "cannot stand idly by while Government
policy on curtailing the sprawl of Dublin is flouted". Unless he
took action, the National Spatial Strategy and its declared aim of achieving
balanced regional development would be meaningless.
Noting Mr Justice Quirke's finding that the rezonings in Co Meath were
not done pursuant to the public interest, they called for the Flood Tribunal
to investigate "these improper decisions". However, since the
tribunal is mired in the historic corruption of planning in Co Dublin,
it seems unlikely it will move to put Co Meath under the microscope.
Courtesy: Irish Times
IPI PRESIDENT CALLED FOR
CHANGES TO RESTORE PUBLIC TRUST IN THE INTEGRITY AND FAIRNESS OF THE PLANNING
Rachel Kenny, the President of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI),
the body which represents professional qualified planners, warned that
changes must be made to the planning process to ensure that the alleged
wrongdoings highlighted in the Flood Tribunal Interim Report do not occur
She said that radical changes are required to restore public trust
in the integrity and fairness of the planning process in light of the
allegations of corruption and wrongdoing contained in the interim report.
Rachel Kenny said, "The members of the Institute are of the opinion
that the alleged corruptions and wrong doings, in respect of numerous
'rezonings' outlined in the Flood Interim Report, could occur again tomorrow,
notwithstanding the introduction of public office and anti-corruption
legislation which has been placed on the statute books.
"Legislative changes to date are not enough, and do not appear
to be producing the desired effect. The mechanism for zoning or rezoning
lands remains the same as that in existence during the 1980's and 1990's.
All that is required to zone or rezone land is a simple majority of elected
members, as opposed to the requirement of a ¾ majority of the full
council in respect of 'material contravention' (relating to specific developments/
permissions). There is no third party appeal process, thus limiting the
public's ability to question any zoning or rezoning decision by the Council,"
the President explained.
The IPI has recommended that legislative changes are put in place
to restore public trust in the integrity and fairness in the planning
? All draft development plans or draft variations of development plans
(which provide for inter alia zoning of land) be subject to inspection
and public enquiry by an independent, external planning inspector from
the Department of Environment & Local Government or An Bord Pleanala,
prior to its consideration for adoption by the Council (i.e. elected members).
? The adoption of a development plan or variations to a development
plan would require a ¾ majority of the full council.
The IPI President criticised the current arrangement, which will ultimately
requires local authority members to effectively regulate their own conduct.
"While the IPI welcome the inclusion of section 150 in the Planning
& Development Act, 2000, which requires councils to adopt a code of
conduct in respect of its members, in essence it will be the elected members
who adopt the code of contract, in effect providing for self-regulation.
The Institute believes that this is ill-advised and recommends that new
arrangements are put in place on foot of the interim findings of Mr. Justice
The IPI President told the conference that it may be time to consider
diluting or removing responsibility from Councillors in regard to land
zoning and rezoning, similar to the legislation introduced in regard to
the adoption of the regional waste management plans.
"The making of Development Plans has focused primarily on 'rezoning',
and to the sceptic, the primary consideration appears to be 'whose turn
it is to become a millionaire', with decisions being made based on individual
constituents interests over the common good. In this regard, some Councillors
are seemingly unperturbed by the threat of public shame or less still
the threat of legal consequences for their actions," Rachel Kenny
The IPI President, commenting on the theme of the Conference added,
"Forward planning in the context of the making of development plans
has become synonymous with rezoning vast swathes of land, and has in the
past lacked transparency and real accountability. In practice, there is
a serious gap in the planning system between 'development plan-making'
and 'development control, or in other words the practice of assessing
individual planning applications. It is the view of the IPI that those
involved in forward planning must be given the opportunity and necessary
resources to prepare 3-D models and detailed visions for urban centres,
whether towns or villages, or whether in rural or urban counties. We would
also encourage grater numbers of good quality action area plans, master
plans, Strategic Development Zones in order to deliver good quality placemaking."
Rachel Kenny said, "We need to ensure that our green spaces
are not only provided but are also located and designed to encourage and
maximise use and enjoyment. We also need to redefine our roads as places,
and not merely corridors for the private motor car. It is also crucial
that we make our suburbs more sustainable and enhance real community participation
in the wider planning process if we are to create truly quality places
in which to live."
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Dunboyne Castle Plans - Information
Plans have been submitted by Menolly Homes Ltd to Meath County Council
for a major housing development on the Dunboyne Castle and Grounds.
You may remember that two years ago more than 2000 signed letters
of objection to the rezoning of these lands for development were submitted
to Meath County Council by residents. Our Councillors ignored the expressed
wishes of our community and zoned the lands for development.
Dunboyne Combined Residents Association (DCRA) will be lodging on
behalf of its members an objection to the proposed development. Each Residents
Association and many individuals may also wish to submit their objections.
1. If you submit your objections you must enclose €20 to have your
2. You must quote the Planning Reference Number: DA/30033. 3. Send
to: The Chief Planning Officer, Meath County Council, County Hall, Navan
by Tuesday 22nd April 2003.
You will have your own reasons for objecting to this development.
The following are some points worth noting:
1. Sustainable Development: The Meath Development Plan 2001 states,
13.2.4 Future Development Areas: "It will also be an objective of
the planning authority to protect the character and landscape setting
of Dunboyne Castle as an amenity area and for possible tourist uses."
The proposed development cannot be regarded as sustainable development
and consequently it fails to comply with the Planning Act 2000.
2. Strategic Planning Guidelines - the planning policy for the
region - are breached. There is no "local need" to construct
an additional 587 dwelling units in Dunboyne.
4. Water Services: Water pressures in Dunboyne are a matter for
complaint for many residents. The proposed development will further deteriorate
4. Flooding: The proposed development is sited on a flood plain.
The removal of 65 acres of soakage lands in the catchment area of the
Castle River and its replacement by run-off from the development will
significantly contribute to flooding in Dunboyne.
5. Transport: This development will bring about a huge increase
in traffic throughout Dunboyne but especially on the Rooske Road where
an exit from the proposed development will be cited.
6. Local Heritage: There are further concerns about the archaeological
value of the site, the inadequacy of open space on site and landscaping
of what is at present a very special environmental inheritance.
7. Dunboyne Community: The price of destroying a unique
community heritage by the proposed development amounts to an environmental
tragedy. These are the only lands left in Dunboyne with such rich landscape
and trees and, most importantly, these lands enjoy a central location
to provide a much needed community facility, a public park and sports
facilities for the people of Dunboyne and to achieve a commercial gain
for the village by developing a regional tourism amenity for the surrounding
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Publication of the National Spatial
Press release from the Kildare Meath Wicklow Planning Alliance (DCRA
is an active member of the KMWPA)
Thursday, 28 November 2002
Not withstanding the merits or otherwise of the National Spatial Strategy,
no one should fool themselves that it will ever be implemented. Unless
the 2000 Planning and Development Act is amended, this new strategy is
merely aspirational and not worth the Departments time or money.
In judicial review proceedings in the High Court earlier this year, Tony
McEvoy and Michael Smith pleaded that the Meath County Development Plan
should be declared void, as Meath Council had failed to have regard to
the Strategic Planning Guidelines as required in the new Planning Act.
In his judgement Justice Quirke ruled that having due regard to
does not require it rigidly or slavishly to comply with the guidelines
or even necessarily to fully adopt the strategy and policies outlined
So even though the Judge agreed that the Meath Plan was inconsistent
and did not comply with the Strategic Planning Guidelines for the Greater
Dublin Area, he ultimately ruled against McEvoy and Smith on matters of
law, not fact.
It has not been possible to enforce the implementation of the Strategic
Planning Guidelines in Meath even though the Judge concluded that
most land zoning decisions appear to have been influenced more by pressure
and lobbying exerted by interested parties such as landowners than by
regional or other planning considerations. It will not be possible
to enforce compliance of the National Spatial Strategy either!
Unless the growth in Dublin is confined to the central Metropolitan Area,
urbanisation and the agglomeration effect will tend to depopulate and
emasculate the rest of Ireland regardless of permissions to build unlimited
holiday homes in the rural landscape or commuter homes in towns and villages.
For further information contact: Judy Osborne, Chairperson 0404 40523
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The area of undeveloped residentially zoned land given
in the County Meath Draft Housing Strategy 2001 is
1676 hectares and at the recommended density of 25 housing units per hectares
has a capacity of 41900 houses .
This would obviously result in at least 41900 new commuters, assuming
only one per household.
Allowing some 5 metres for the average length of a car, then 41900 cars,
bumper to bumper, would stretch for over 200 kilometres, that is 4 times
the 48 kilometre distance from Navan to Dublin (GPO).
However, assuming the traffic is moving at even a modest speed of say
30 miles/hour (50 kilometres/hour), the queue would stretch for well over
400 kilometres, and in theory, assuming a two lane, rather than a single
lane highway, it would take four hours for such a queue to pass a given
In practice, most of the commuters would head for the N3 which is not
a two lane highway except for the last 10 kilometres and is already severely
congested especially in the Blanchardstown area where there are long delays
each morning and evening. If the Meath Plan is not drastically curtailed
then the outcome will unquestionably be horrendous. Indeed Blanchardstown
could rapidly become totally impassable.
Incidentally the estimated emission of carbon dioxide from some 40,000
commuters would be about 120,000 tons/annum
Area Action Plan: Dunboyne Castle
Kepak were the owners of the Castle lands which were the
subject of a rezoning application by Menolly Homes in June 2000 of which
47 acres were rezoned residential development in the Meath County Council
Development Plan 2001. This application was voted through by the six Dunshaughlin
Area County Councillors despite strong commitments given by them previously
that these lands would never be built on but that they should be retained
for tourism and amenity purposes.
Dunshaughlin Area County Councillors were lobbied by Kepak.
County Councillors subsequently changed their minds and reneged on their
promises to residents of Dunboyne. Mary Bergin (FG) of Dunboyne, proposed
the development, against the wishes of the majority of residents in Dunboyne,
which was seconded by Cllr Brian Fitzgerald and approved by the other
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail Councillors.
No satisfactory explanation has been given to the residents
of Dunboyne by these Councillors for their change of mind and for the
rejection of the expressed wishes of the majority of the electorate in
Dunboyne. It is especially disappointing to the residents of Dunboyne
that "their own" Councillor proposed the development.
DCRA has now responded to Meath County Council's Integrated
Area Action Plan for the development of Dunboyne Castle and Lands. To
view Click Here
Was A Good Idea
It really was a good idea. The strategy adopted by the Dept. of Environment
& Local Government and the Councils of the Greater Dublin Area was to:
· Limit the spread of Greater Dublin,
· Pour resources into a limited number of Growth Centres elsewhere
in Ireland and
· Keep the rest green by severely restricting development.
They even went so far as to write it into legislation and they gave
the Minister power to intervene.
BUT! He isn't intervening! Why?
Let me give you the background:
1. Wicklow County Council is about to zone hundreds of acres of Wicklow
farmland for 1500 new houses. This is to happen in the greenbelt (hinterland)
area. An area outside the boundary for Greater Dublin which is supposed
to be protected by legislation It is expressly against Government strategic
policy, the Planning and Development Act and the Strategic Planning Guidelines.
2. The Councils of Meath and Kildare are doing the same. There are several
examples where central government authority and legislation are being
openly ignored. Minister Dempsey flatly refuses to intervene arguing that
it is up to the councils to police their own activities. Why? All of this
must cast doubt on where the real power in Ireland lies and it raises
serious questions about the role and competency of the Minister.
3. Tell me another country in the world where a local authority ignores
the Minister and the Law and gets away with it? And yet, come Monday March
11th, the town plans for Newtownmountkenndy and Kilcoole are provisionally
scheduled for adoption. They are but the latest in a series of examples
affecting the so-called hinterland area around greater Dublin. In adopting
the plans the Councilors will be taking step one towards their goal of
establishing a 12,500 people commuter town on the N11 and based on these
two villages. More information is available at www.newtownwatch.com
Dr Craig Bishop, Family Doctor Member of the Kildare Meath Wicklow Planning
Submission to Meath County Council
Re: Integrated Area Action Plan for Lands East of Disused Rail Line Dunboyne
- February 2002 Click Here
of the Dunboyne Involvement in the Meath
County Council Development Plan 2001
keeps a watching brief on all current planning applications in the area
especially in Dunboyne Village
Application by John
& Catherine Cooling 15 Oakridge Crescent, Woodview, Dunboyne
To demolish an existing cottage and outsheds at Main Street,
Dunboyne (beside Brady's Pub) and the erection of 2 no retail units ground
floor and commercial office over with off street parking to the rear.
DCRA made a submission welcoming this development and were
successful in having the following conditions included as part of the
planning permission which was granted on 13.06.01.
Signage: 1. Handpainted or individually mounted letters
on timber 2. No signs without written permission of the Local Authority.
Security: Security shutters to be kept behind glazing line.
This decision was not appealed to An Bord Pleanala so development
can now commence. To-date the cottage has been demolished but construction
has not started.
Re: Planning Application Ref. No.
01/410 by Springwood Ltd for Commercial Residential Development at Main
Street/Station Road, Dunboyne (Site beside SPAR)
The proposed development is described as commercial &
residential comprising (1) three storey shop & office development
in four blocks A,B,C & D (2) Five two storey terraced townhouses in
Block E; (3) new site entrance, access road, car parking area, boundary
walls & all associated site development works at Main St. Dunboyne
DCRA made the following objections to the above development
for the reasons listed below.
1. All existing buildings in Dunboyne Village are maximum
two storey in height. We object to this proposal to build a three storey
building at this prominent location which would result in setting a precedent
which could lead to the destruction of the harmony of the roof lines in
2. The amount of car parking spaces provided (18 spaces)
is totally inadequate and there are no parking spaces shown for the five
3. The building line should be set back at least another
five meters from Station Road as the present roadway is very narrow at
this point, to accommodate a four meter path and cycle lane in conjunction
with the village renewal plan by DTO.
4. The blank plastered wall shown on the side elevation
facing Castleview will be an eyesore to residents of Castleview and will
detract from the whole village ambiance. We request that the building
be kept back sufficient distance from the boundary to allow for planting
of trees to soften the effect. We furthermore request that the side elevation
should be built with brick and incorporate windows similar to those on
the front of the building.
5. We also want the following conditions included:
No external shutters should be allowed on these buildings.
All shop and office fronts comply with the Department of
the Environment guidelines on shopfronts. (copy attached).
All signs should be handpainted letters on a wooden background
and in no circumstances should plastic neon signs be allowed.
No protruding signs should be permitted.
Note: Meath County Council wrote to the developers on 06.06.01
requesting additional information but to-date they have not received same.
UPDATE - 19/9/99
we can being up an update on the D.T.O. money being spent in the Village.
may have noticed that work has begun in and around the village centre.
For those of you who remember the initial "consultation" phase of the
project (last summer !) - after much negotiation Meath County Council
and D.T.O. have agreed on Plan 2 with minor modifications.
to be completed is as follows :-
Reconstruction of the Village Centre from Kelly's Corner to the Schools
The road through the centre of the village will be narrowed.
Good Parking Spaces will be provided
There will be three paved pedestrian crossings :
at the Fingal House - at the middle of the Village green
at the Spar Supermarket - All pathways will be reconstructed.
Two cycleways will be laid out. - Traffic lights will be erected at
is expected to be completed in approximately 4 weeks time.
with the above DTO funded work the following will be completed in order
to round off the village rejuvenation :-
Resurfacing of the Navan Road at a total cost of £250,000 - work is
Traffic calming measures promised will be implemented. New structures
will not be built but roads will be reduced to 6 metres wide. This type
of deliberate road narrowing is widely considered to be the most effective
method of forcing traffic to slow down.
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28th 1999 : Boundardy at St. Peter's College.
are pleased to confirm that following the resolution of a dispute between
the Millfarm Developer and the Department of Education work has now begun
on the much needed permanent boundary on the distributor road between
St. Peter's College and the Millfarm estate.
boundary will be a black railing similar to the estate entrance but without
red brick piers. An Bord Pleanala requires that the Education Department
plant the full length of this railing on the college side which should
go a long way towards enhancing the overall appearance of the area.
has now submitted its planning document to Meath County Council entitled:
"Towards a Dunboyne Development Plan 2000". This is available
here on our web site. Click Here
affiliated Residents Association has received a copy and is asked to consult
its membership. Comments and feedback to DCRA is requested by October
person who reads our submission to MCC is invited to contact DCRA with
their views and comments.
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