Councillors plan to overturn south Dublin zoning decision


by Fiona Gartland


Councillors in Dún Laoghaire, south Dublin, are to attempt to overturn a zoning decision taken by them last month at the direction of the Minister for the Environment in the latest battle over retail development in the area.


The Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Development Plan 2010- 2016 comes into force today, but the process to change it could begin next week if a Fine Gael councillors’ motion to rezone The Park, Carrickmines, off the M50 motorway, is accepted.


Last month, after councillors rejected advice from John Gormley, the Minister directed them not to increase the retail zoning at The Park from 10,000sq m to 25,000sq m as part of the council’s development plan process.


He had said the rezoning would seriously compromise and undermine the Greater Dublin Area Retail Strategy.


Despite the legal status of the ministerial order, made under Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, councillors went ahead with a ballot to accept or reject the rezoning.


The ballot, on March 11th, was so close Fine Gael Cathaoirleach Councillor Marie Baker was forced to use her casting vote to ensure the Minister’s direction was followed. But some councillors were unhappy with the decision. They will attempt to change the zoning at a council meeting on Monday.


Fine Gael councillors Tom Joyce, Jim O’Leary, Barry Ward, John Bailey and Maria Bailey, along with Independent councillor Gearóid O’Keeffe, tabled a Section 140 motion to direct county manager Owen Keegan to vary the plan.


The variation will increase the retail zoning of The Park to 20,000sqm.


In their submission, councillors said the enlarged centre would provide local shopping, leisure and community facilities for Stepaside, Ballyogan and Kilternan, which have a planned population of over 30,000. And the additional 10,000sq m would not increase the overall retail space in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown because it would be taken from the planned Cherrywood town centre.


Mr O’Leary said yesterday councillors had drafted the variation themselves without the benefit of legal advice, but were confident it was legal. He said the Green Party had created a political issue out it.


“There is an element of the Greens creating a non-existent issue to wrap themselves in; their raison d’être that “you can trust us on planning”, but they are creating a non-issue at the cost of hundreds of jobs,” he said.


He said he was satisfied the rezoning was good planning and there were already tenants, including Tesco, ready to move in to the enlarged development.


A spokesman for Mr Gormley said it was Mr O’Leary who was attempting to politicise the issue. The Minister was acting on advice from planning experts within the department and from Mr O’Leary’s own officials.


“The intervention was based on evidence and not on claims and it is good for everyone, not just one developer or landowner. Developer-led planning is the type of planning that got us into the problems we have now,” he said.


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