Clonburris will not repeat past planning mistakes, says Council

New 8,000-home suburb in west Dublin will be high-density to avoid dependency on cars

Planning failures which resulted in the urban sprawl of the Dublin suburbs in the last decades of the 20th century will not be repeated in Clonburris, the director of planning of South Dublin County Council has said.

The council plans to develop a new suburb of more than 8,000 homes for a population of 24,000 people on 280 hectares of vacant land at Clonburris, along the Dublin-Kildare railway line close to Adamstown to the west of the city.

A draft Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) plan to govern the development of Clonburris lands will not be published until next month, but concerns are already growing about the effect the development of a new town will have on the overburdened road network across the west of the city, particularly around Lucan.

"There is a growing resistance to large-scale residential development in Lucan, and that resistance is traffic-based," the council's director of planning, Eddie Taaffe, said.


“It is a legacy of the lack of co-ordinated planning in the 1980s. The estates in Lucan were designed surrounded by walls with one way in and out, with piecemeal development and tacking on to existing estates without master planning. We don’t design like that anymore.”

The SDZ process ensures the entire area is planned up front including the necessary infrastructure, and the homes, particularly near the railway line, will be higher-density to discourage car-based development, he said.

‘Market demand’

Cairn Homes, the largest private landholder in Clonburris, said the densities in Clonburris should be aligned with “market demand” which was for “family housing rather than apartments”.

However, Deirdre Fallon, president of the Irish Planning Institute, said "widespread reductions in density" would be contrary to national policy on land use.

“It is Government policy to increase densities in these types of areas. Lower densities increase the reliance on the private car.”

Lower densities didn’t necessarily equate to “high-rise” development, she said.

“Georgian Dublin was built with 165 units per hectare, which would be considered quite high density.”

Mayor of South Dublin County Council Paul Gogarty, a former Green Party TD and now an Independent, said the overall density would be lower than previously planned for Clonburris. About 15,000 homes had been planned for the land before the Metro West rail line was shelved, but he said higher densities should be maintained closer to the rail line.

“There is a lot to be said for higher densities because they create a critical mass necessary to support infrastructure.” That did not necessarily mean increasing the number of homes from 8,000 but having people living closer together and creating more parks.

‘Very stringent’

“If people are more than a five-minute walk from pubic transport, they tend to drive,” said Mr Gogarty. He added that the council had to be “very stringent” in relation to the “front-loading of infrastructure” before too many houses were built at Clonburris.

Joanna Tuffy, Labour spokesperson on affordable housing, said the Government must introduce a national affordable housing scheme ahead of the development of the Clonburris SDZ . "Clonburris is expected to eventually have over 8,000 houses. Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2015 requires that a percentage of the houses built at Clonburris will be social and affordable housing.

“However, an affordable housing element might be absent unless the Government steps in and implements a National Affordable Housing Scheme without delay.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times