Council votes to rezone land at Carrickmines for retail

Tue, Apr 13, 2010, 01:00

COUNCILLORS IN south Dublin have voted to begin a variation to rezone land for retail development in Carrickmines despite a ministerial order directing them not to increase retail in the area.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley directed councillors on Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council not to rezone land at The Park, Carrickmines, off the M50, to increase its retail space when they created their county development plan last month.

Councillors complied with the Minister’s direction order, but yesterday, following a heated debate, they voted to effectively overturn it.

Fine Gael councillors Tom Joyce, Jim O’Leary, Barry Ward and John and Maria Bailey, along with Independent councillor Gearóid O’Keeffe, tabled the motion to increase retail zoning at Carrickmines by 10,000 sq m and simultaneously reduce retail zoning at Cherrywood, also off the M50, by 10,000 sq m.

Councillors had come under pressure from developers at both centres.

The Carrickmines developer, Park Developments, had promised 800 jobs and a “guaranteed” anchor tenant, as well as interest from other retailers should the motion be passed.

The Cherrywood developer, Dunloe Ewart, had threatened legal proceedings should the motion be passed. It said it had already spent €28.6 million on infrastructure in Cherrywood.

Speaking in defence of the motion, Cllr Tom Joyce said he had been contacted by a delegation of business people who said they would like to put in a cinema, supermarket, leisure centre and restaurant at The Park.

“These people are ready to start operations immediately,” he said.

He believed the development was sustainable.

Cllr Jim O’Leary questioned why Mr Gormley “interfered” in the county development plan.

Cllr Barry Ward put on the record that he was “beholden to no one”. He was satisfied rezoning Carrickmines was the right thing to do.

However, Labour councillor Aidan Culhane said the motion was “utterly shocking and appalling”. It was a plan to build another shopping centre on the side of a motorway. “I find it staggering that councillors would do this . . . in Carrickmines of all places after all it’s been through in planning terms.”

His Labour colleague, Cllr Denis O’Callaghan, said he detected “a palpable smugness, arrogance and contempt” for the work carried out by the council in the last two years.

Cllr Richard Humphreys said there was a legal obligation to comply with the Minister’s order and increasing retail at Carrickmines would “emasculate” Cherrywood and damage the financial interests of the council, which owns some land at Cherrywood.

Cllr Victor Boyhan said whatever councillors did the Minister would invoke his powers under the legislation and was entitled to do so.

Councillors voted 15 to 13 to accept the motion.

County manager Owen Keegan said he would take legal advice about the decision, and return to councillors with a report on how they could proceed with the steps to vary the development plan.