Dunboyne Combined Residents Association 

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Entries are made under date beginning with the most recent. Subjects and issues are entered in alphabetical order.

DCRA Planning - History 18.02.02

DCRA Planning Links Page

DCRA Submission to MCC Development Plan 17.07.99

DCRA Submission to MCC Development Plan 2000

Dunboyne Castle - Area Action Plan 13.04.02

Dunboyne Castle Plans 12.04.03

East of Railway - Area Action Plan 26.02.02

Green Belt 12.02.03

IPI President 07.05.03

National Spatial Strategy 28.11.02

Planning Applications 15.02.02

Planning Consequences 17.10.02

Planning Fees - Eu Reasoned Opinion

Planning Fees - Letter to Minister Cullen

Planning Fundamentally Flawed 17.02.05

Regional Planning 09.03.02

Spree of Rezoning 08.05.03

St. Peter's College 28.08.99

Village Centre Update - DTO 19.09.99



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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Planning/Participative Fees - Letter to Minister Martin Cullen


Planning Fees - EU Reasoned Opinion 21.01.03


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 members committee.

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

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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 again.

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 system, namely:

? 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 Flood."

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 added.

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.

Please note:
1. If you submit your objections you must enclose €20 to have your submission considered.
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 this situation.

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 area.

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Publication of the National Spatial Strategy

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 Department’s 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 there in”

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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Planning Consequences

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 point.
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

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Integrated 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

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It 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 Alliance (KMWPA)

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Submission to Meath County Council Re: Integrated Area Action Plan for Lands East of Disused Rail Line Dunboyne - February 2002 Click Here

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History of the Dunboyne Involvement in the Meath County Council Development Plan 2001

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Current Planning Applications

DCRA 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 Co Meath.

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 the village.

2. The amount of car parking spaces provided (18 spaces) is totally inadequate and there are no parking spaces shown for the five town houses.

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.

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D.T.O. UPDATE - 19/9/99

Finally we can being up an update on the D.T.O. money being spent in the Village.

You 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.

Work 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 Kelly's Corner.

Work is expected to be completed in approximately 4 weeks time.


Along 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 on-going

- 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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August 28th 1999 : Boundardy at St. Peter's College.

We 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.

The 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.

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July 17th 1999.

DCRA 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

Each affiliated Residents Association has received a copy and is asked to consult its membership. Comments and feedback to DCRA is requested by October 1st '99.

Any person who reads our submission to MCC is invited to contact DCRA with their views and comments.

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