Opposition builds against north Dublin strategic housing plan

Residents preparing for judicial review on application for 1,365 homes made last week

Main Street in Donabate, Co Dublin. The proposed housing scheme  includes 667 apartments in 16 blocks of up to five storeys, along with of 346 houses and 352 duplexes. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Main Street in Donabate, Co Dublin. The proposed housing scheme includes 667 apartments in 16 blocks of up to five storeys, along with of 346 houses and 352 duplexes. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

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Opposition is mounting to plans for one of the largest strategic housing developments (SHDs) yet proposed, on lands next to an environmental conservation area in north Dublin.

Aledo Donabate Ltd is seeking planning permission for 1,365 homes next to the Malahide estuary in Donabate. Local residents are already preparing for potential judicial review proceedings, despite the application having been submitted to An Bord Pleanála only in the last week.

The scheme – which includes 667 apartments in 16 blocks of up to five storeys, along with of 346 houses and 352 duplexes – would be the largest SHD scheme after the proposed 1,614 build-to-rent apartments at the old Holy Cross seminary on Clonliffe Road in Dublin city.

Under the SHD process, applications for more than 100 homes or blocks of 200 student bed spaces are made directly to An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the local-authority planning stage. The system, which removed the right to appeal planning decisions on large-scale housing developments, is to be discontinued next February.

Donabate-Portrane Community Council its already preparing for a potential legal challenge to the scheme, if it is approved.

“Donabate suffers from significant, chronic infrastructure deficits, from public transport to electricity supply to creches,” acting council chairman David Fletcher said. “We’re not against development, we are looking for development that is sustainable and improves the quality of life of people – existing and future residents on the peninsula.”

The “disproportionate” development was “completely unsustainable” and would increase the population of Donabate from 10,000 people to at least 14,000. “Together with other planned developments in Donabate, the population will increase over the next five to 10 years to over 20,000 people. This would place Donabate on a par with such large regional towns as Athlone, but without any of the infrastructure and facilities.”

Donabate had the facilities of a “small village” he said. “There’s one small supermarket, two pubs, two chemists, two bookmakers and a small selection of coffee shops, restaurants and takeaways.”

Environmental concerns

He also said there were environmental concerns. “These lands are situated in an extremely environmentally sensitive area, running down right to the boundary of the Malahide estuary special area of conservation and special protection area.”

He was pessimistic about the prospects of the board refusing the scheme. “It’s probably highly likely we will have to take a judicial review, so we are preparing for that,” Mr Fletcher said.

The developer said the scheme would include a 32-acre nature park and other amenities. “Our vision for the lands is to create a sustainable and family-friendly community with the services, public amenities and connectivity it needs to thrive. We have worked with a leading ecologist to ensure that the development can bring significant benefits for the local environment and wildlife” Aledo director Michael Cannon said.

“Our plan includes the provision of a large primary school site and three new creches, as well as cycle and pedestrian links to Donabate train station and Newbridge Demesne.’’