Proprosed ‘gigantic’ Dundrum development is out of scale, meeting hears

Community group to object to development being fast-tracked through An Bord Pleanála

The proposed redevelopment of the old Dundrum shopping centre in south Dublin in a scheme enveloping the main street of the village is "gigantic" and out of scale with the surrounding area, a public meeting heard on Wednesday evening.

Local community group Imagine Dundrum said it would object to the development being fast-tracked through An Bord Pleanála, especially as it was not in keeping with the new development plan for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council adopted last week.

Planning consultant Brendan Buck of BPS Planning told the meeting attended by more than 300 people at Taney Parish Hall that the strategy housing development project "from a lot of viewpoints is going to look relentlessly large".

The owner of Dundrum Town Centre, UK property giant Hammerson, lodged an application for an 881-unit apartment scheme earlier this month. Observations must be submitted to the planning authority by May 9th.

Hammerson subsidiary Dundrum Retail GP DAC ’s proposal includes a “landmark” 16-storey apartment block at the northernmost point of the site near the Dundrum Luas stop.

The scheme is to be made up of 11 blocks across four zones, and the developers are seeking an eight-year planning permission to complete the plan.

“The scheme is overwhelming in height, scale, massing and bulk. It’s a visually dominant scheme which would alter the site in a profoundly negative manner,” Mr Buck said.

Buildings of architectural value would be demolished and existing buildings would be dwarfed by five-storey buildings fronting onto the main street in a development with poor location of public space – when a civic space should have been used to open up the area to provide amenity value, he said.

Imagine Dublin chairwoman Cllr Anne Colgan told the meeting it was a source of sadness and regret that the developer had failed to engage with the group on how best to redevelop the site as it had proposed a detailed plan to ensure a modern urban village would be at the heart of the development.

“We want to bring back the butcher, the baker, the bookshop – what we have lost,” she added. In contrast, the development housing 3,000 people would come without adequate facilities for a neighbourhood, Cllr Colgan said.

The group was formed in 2017 as an attempt to have a positive impact on the area, she said, and was in favour of development, but not of the scale being envisaged. Their stance was not a case of “nimbyism”, she stressed.

‘Vertical sprawl’

The planning errors of the 1950s and 1960s where suburban housing estates were built “without shops, a health centre and a bus stop” were about to be repeated, she believed, but in this case it amounted to “vertical sprawl”.

Local residents found it difficult to engage with the thousands of documents released with the application through an accompanying website, she said. However, she encouraged people to submit observations as the development would shape the area for hundreds of years.

The proposed project consists of 335 one-bedroom apartments, 464 two-bedroom units, and 82 three-bedroom apartments.

In addition, the scheme will also include a proposal for a new public open space, to be known as Church Square, to the rear of Holy Cross church.

The developers are proposing 681 car parking spaces and 3,087 bicycle spaces. The scheme would include a lower ground floor car park that will have a vehicular link under the Ballinteer Road to connect to the Dundrum Town Centre basement car-parking area.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times