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Michael Fingleton-linked lands at centre of controversial housing plan in Shankill

Proposed scheme in south Co Dublin involves development containing 194 homes

Michael Fingleton is associated with lands at the centre of a planning application for 194 build-to-rent units. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Lands associated with the family of Michael Fingleton, the former head of the Irish Nationwide Building Society, are the subject of controversial proposals for a major housing scheme at Shankill, in south Co Dublin.

Proposals for 194 build-to-rent homes in a development of up to eight storeys have been put forward for a 1.4 hectare (3.5 acres) site behind the Fingleton family home at Liskileen, Abingdon Park, Shankill.

Mr Fingleton listed his home with a value of €3 million as among his assets in 2010, when he was being pressed by Ulster Bank to make repayments on a €13 million loan for land close to Cavan town.

Mr Fingleton’s listing of assets, which included properties in Ireland and overseas, did not make it clear if the €3 million valuation included the 1.4 hectare site to the rear of the house.

In 2018, Mr Fingleton’s wife Eileen Fingleton emerged as the owner of the site when she successfully challenged its addition to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s register of vacant sites. In doing so, Ms Fingleton avoided a 3.5 per cent vacant sites levy.

Now development company ES Shan has successfully applied to An Bórd Pleanála for an order that the proposals form a “reasonable application” for consideration by the planning board. The move means the proposals will be heard as a strategic housing application, bypassing the local authority.

According to records in the Companies Office, the directors of ES Shan are based in Northern Ireland.

They include Séamus McAleer and Eamonn Laverty, the chairman and chief executive of Mc Aleer & Rushe, one of the UK’s largest design and build construction and property companies.

A website outlining the plans has been set up at abingdonshd.ie.

Locals opposing the proposed development claim the site is “almost landlocked” and that the plan is of inappropriate scale and height for the suburban area.

Local Labour councillor Denis O’Callaghan said the site, known locally as “Fingleton’s Field”, was unsuitable for buildings of five to eight storeys which would have an “overbearing and overshadowing effect on houses in Clifton Park, Rathsallagh Grove and Rathsallagh Park.

He said the potential for spillover parking in neighbouring estates was in the “will happen” bracket. He also said that construction traffic would come through the suburban estates for at least two years, making them “an extended building site”.

Cllr O’Callaghan said the disruption would have a “devastating affect” on the local national school, Scoil Mhuire, including “significant” traffic safety issues.

Attempts to contact the developers ES Shan Ltd through their architects were not successful yesterday.

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