Plans for a new town for more than 21,000 people at Clonburris in southwest Dublin are expected to be approved by South Dublin county councillors this week.
However, concerns have emerged about the quality of the plans for the new strategic development zone (SDZ) near Adamstown, with local residents and some councillors warning that they lack essential detail in relation to schools, transport and housing.
About 280 hectares of former farmland at Clonburris, straddling both sides of the Dublin-Kildare railway line and the Grand Canal just over 10km from the city centre, has been designated by the Government as an SDZ to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.
Councillors will be asked this week to approve the SDZ, which would facilitate the construction of more than 8,400 homes using “fast-track” planning.
If approved by councillors, the SDZ plans can be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. If the board passes the plans, the council will be able to grant permission for developments which cannot afterwards be appealed to the board. This could allow construction to start two months after an application is made.
Cairn Homes, the largest private landowner in Clonburris, said it could provide homes costing less than €300,000, and would be in a position to start construction straight away.
The council received more than 600 submissions on the SDZ, large numbers of which urged caution in relation to allowing too many houses and apartments to be built too quickly.
Several residents and residents’ associations complained that the council’s plans were “vague and lacking in clarity”, particularly its transport proposals which, residents said, did not appear to take into account the existing congestion on the surrounding roads and did not specify how many houses would be built before a new train station at Kishoge would start operating.
There were also concerns that while in Adamstown there had been an insistence on a permanent schools of specific size, Clonburris requires provision of sites for schools without any guarantee of their construction.
Local Independent councillor Liona O’Toole said residents were right to be concerned about the quality of the plans.
“The Clonburris SDZ is essentially a watered-down version of the Adamstown SDZ, which had 10 phases with infrastructure pinned down to each phase of housing construction. Clonburris has half the number of phases, meaning that more homes will be built before essential facilities go in.”
Ms O’Toole was also concerned about the language in the SDZ, which suggested certain infrastructure would be “facilitated or “encouraged” rather than “required”.
Clonburris will, at its closest point, come within metres of Adamstown, the State’s first SDZ and effectively first new town of the 21st century, which will eventually have about 8,000 homes.
The mayor of South Dublin, Paul Gogarty, said the Clonburris plan "doesn't have the same tightness" of the Adamstown SDZ.
“It is definitely too loose and too vague, but I would be absolutely certain it will be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.”
Local Labour representative Joanna Tuffy called for the proportion of social and affordable housing in the development to be increased from 10 per cent to 30 per cent, while Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin is seeking 36 per cent social and affordable housing.
Fianna Fáil councillor Trevor Gilligan said he is concerned not enough consideration was given to the effects on the neighbouring suburb of Clondalkin. "This is going to put huge pressure on the Fonthill Road, Outer Ring Road, Balgaddy link road – which will then have a knock-on effect on pretty much all roads in Clondalkin," he said.
The council management said "high-quality public transport infrastructure projects" planned by the National Transport Authority had been factored into the assessments for the SDZ.
Under current legislation, it was “not possible” to increase social or affordable housing requirements above 10 per cent, it said.
School sites had been incorporated into the planning scheme but the Department of Education and Skills was responsible for the delivery of educational facilities, the council said.
Councillors can seek to amend the SDZ this week, but must vote on the plan by February 2nd.