Retail plan shows developers have learnt nothing, says Cuffe

Mon, Mar 8, 2010, 00:00

OPPOSING A plan to create a new “district centre” on the same scale as Blackrock at Carrickmines in south Co Dublin, Green Party TD Ciarán Cuff has accused developers of learning nothing from past planning problems.

Tristor Ltd, a company associated with Park Developments, successfully lobbied councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown for the inclusion of the Park Village, Carrickmines, as a “district centre” in the County Development Plan.

“District centre” denomination permits retail development of up to 25,000sq m; planners wanted developments at Carrickmines restricted to 5,000sq m or less.

The planners said the idea was to have major town centres at Dún Laoghaire and Dundrum, district centres at Blackrock, Stillorgan, Nutgrove, Cornelscourt and Cherrywood, and “neighbourhood centres” providing for a local needs.

They pointed out that the proposed district centre at Cherrywood was less than 2.5km from Carrickmines, as is Cornelscourt, while smaller centres such as Ballyogan were even nearer.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley twice made submissions on the move and last January warned that if the plan went ahead he could exercise his powers to instruct it be revoked. Last Friday the Minister wrote to the council exercising that power.

The Minister said he was concerned the hierarchy of retail development be respected as it tied in with the retail strategy for the Greater Dublin Area. He also said there were issues of transport and traffic and competition for existing commercial centres.

While the Minister did not want to get into a public debate on the issue, fellow Green Party member and Dún Laoghaire TD Mr Cuffe said supporters of the project “appear to have learnt nothing from the planning problems of the past 30 years and councillors are still trying to rezone even more greenfield sites”.

Fine Gael member of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Jim O’Leary said blocking the plan “will cost Dún Laoghaire 800 full-time jobs, 700 construction jobs and 1,500 support/part-time jobs”.

Mr O’Leary said he had been given these figures by Park Developments. He said this was in contrast to the proposed district centre at Cherrywood, which he said was in financial trouble and “owned by a man who is not well”.

A lobbyist for the developer said no minister had ever intervened “on site-specific objectives during the course of a development plan”.