The developer behind controversial plans for 536 houses and apartments beside St Anne's Park in Raheny has lodged a new application for more than 650 apartments on the site.
The apartment-only scheme would see Crevkav build 657 apartments in blocks up to nine storeys in height, along with almost 500 parking spaces on former playing fields east of St Paul’s College beside the park.
The number of homes in the new scheme would represent an increase of more than 20 per cent on previous plans, but no houses are proposed as part of the new application to An Bord Pleanála.
Local residents and politicians had previously contended that the 536 houses and apartments constituted overdevelopment of the site.
In April of last year, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for 104 houses and 432 apartments on the St Paul's College site to Crevkav, a subsidiary of developer Pat Crean's Marlet Property Group, but the decision was the subject of a High Court challenge.
The action taken by Clonres CLG – representing residents from the Clontarf area and two environmentalists – was the first challenge to a decision made under the State's new fast-track planning system. Under this regime large-scale housing applications are determined directly by the board, not local authorities.
The High Court determined the application should be returned to the board to allow it to reconsider matters and make a fresh order on the planning application.
The board’s subsequent decision to refuse permission reflected legal points raised in the court challenge regarding European environmental directives, specifically relating to the potential impact on bird species, notably Brent geese.
Crevkav has taken judicial review proceedings against the board’s decision, which are ongoing, but in May decided to make a fresh application regardless. At that point the company planned to addresses the concerns in relation to the Brent geese and to pursue its previous plans for the houses and apartments.
Caps on building heights
However, in the application now lodged with the board, houses have been eliminated and the number of apartments substantially increased.
The company said these changes were the result of a "tri-partite meeting" with the board and Dublin City Council and also reflected the removal last December by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy of caps on building heights through the issuing of new "guidelines" to local authorities.
"Since the tri-partite meeting during the pre-application consultation request process, the proposed development has been amended . . . to take account of comments from both Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála and section 28 guidelines," said the company.
“The key changes, as outlined above, relate to the consolidation of the 25 per cent public open space to the south of the site, the amendment of previously proposed houses to apartments and the increase in height to the centre of the site.”
A spokesman for the company said if it was sucessful in its judicial review it could still pursue the original application for houses and apartments but had yet to make a decision on the matter.
The new application is likely to be opposed locally. Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has described the plans as an “example of developer greed taking priority over the needs of a local community”.