Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors have voted to go ahead with controversial plans to redevelop sport and recreational facilities on an 8.7-hectare site in the 36-hectare Shanganagh Park, near Shankill in south Dublin.
The council plans to reorganise facilities for baseball and cricket while adding a sand-based grass pitch and a sprint track, floodlighting, changes to a bridge over the nearby Dart line to make the area more accessible, and the creation of a “focal point for viewing, sitting and play”.
Under the scheme, the cricket and baseball pitches are to be amalgamated with the addition of a fixed batting cage/cricket cage with soft netting and artificial practice surface, including netting, and storage.
The sprint track is to be a six-lane, 100m sprint/hurdle track on polymeric surfacing to world athletics standards, with long jump and triple jump facilities.
A callisthenics and functional workout area will also be provided, as will a natural play area, and bicycle parking. Car parking is to be at the current main Shanganagh Park and Cemetery car park. The plan includes extensive tree planting and areas not required for sports will be maintained as meadows.
Opposition centred on several grounds including parking, lighting and the impact on a 2.5-hectare open space used as a meadow with paths for walking and some grassed amenity areas. Several opponents said existing pitches should be improved while the biodiversity of the larger site was preserved.
A public consultation organised by the council last year drew 1,107 valid submissions, of which 726 were in favour. Some 357 were opposed and others were neutral or undecided.
Submissions were also received from the National Monument Service which noted there was evidence of significant archaeological features including sub-circular enclosures, cremation pits and further evidence of Bronze and Iron Age occupation.
Following the submissions the council amended the plan, moving the pitch and imposing restrictions on lighting to lessen the impact on bats while agreeing to archaeological investigation and preservation of some sites in situ. Other archaeological sites are to be “preserved by record”. Preserved by record means the site would be noted and recorded on paper or digitally before being excavated.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Cathaoirleach Denis O’Callaghan (Labour) said he believed the development was a “reasonable compromise” between protecting biodiversity and fulfilling the council’s obligation to provide sporting facilities.
However, councillor Michael Clark (Fianna Fáil) called on the council “even at this late stage” to put the plan on hold. He asked if any “blue sky thinking” had taken place to consider how the authority might enhance existing facilities while respecting the issues raised by locals opposed to the plan.