Howth residents object to apartment scheme citing fear of landslides
Major excavation planned for village site as part of development of 164 apartments
Site of a proposed housing development beside the Martello Tower, Howth, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
A major development planned for the seaside village of Howth in north Dublin has sparked concerns over plans to remove thousands of tonnes of sand from an area with a history of landslides and subsidence.
Objectors are concerned that the construction of 164 apartments could have knock-on effects for a village that has already seen parcels of nearby land collapse.
Crekav Trading, the developer recently granted planning for hundreds of homes at St Anne’s Park, Raheny, is expected to excavate thousands of cubic metres of material from the site in the centre of Howth village and bordering its Martello Tower.
Objectors claim the operation would require in the order of 5,000 truck loads.
The application for the development has been lodged directly with An Bord Pleanála under strategic planning legislation designed to fast-track larger developments.
It includes the demolition of the former Baily Court Hotel on Main Street, which has been derelict for years. Three blocks of apartments are planned for the site, rising to four storeys, and underground parking is included. The plan also includes 757sq m of retail and commercial space.
Local Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who organised a recent meeting to discuss the proposal, said the current housing crisis should not be a pretext to give developers carte blanche.
“Nobody is against the development, it’s the scale of the development that causes concern,” he said.
“The Baily Court Hotel is a derelict site and it’s not particularly attractive. And I think people will welcome a development.”
The Marlet Property Group, which owns Crekav, sent representatives to address concerns at a local meeting.
A spokesman told The Irish Times the plans would “contribute to resolving Dublin’s chronic housing shortage” and that extensive surveys of the site had been conducted to assess “all potential impacts”.
However, it declined to comment specifically on concerns around the removal of 40,000 cubic metres of sand and gravel. Residents say they were told this operation would take about six months.
“We have also spent a considerable amount of time engaging with Fingal County Council and believe we have addressed all issues,” the spokesman said.
“We understand that there will be concerns about any development in this outstanding location. We believe our plan will make a significant positive contribution to Howth and the surrounding area.”
Aside from traffic and the visual impact of the scheme in the small fishing village made up of 19th-century buildings, local reservations are focused on the subsidence issue.
A “template observation” document, circulated to residents, highlights a number of recent landslides in the areas surrounding the site.
“These landslips and collapses have varied in scale and damage, though continual over the past 18-year period,” it says.
It includes the “major catastrophic collapse” of a wall at St Mary’s Cemetery in 2012, as illustrating “the seriousness of the situation”.
“There hasn’t been one instance, there have been several. It’s an ongoing problem,” said local Social Democrats councillor Cian O’Callaghan.
“That level of construction work would pose a risk from taking out that level of sand and bolder clay. That’s not an imagined fear.”