Publican’s plan for apartment scheme will create ‘Goatshattan’ say residents

Charlie Chawke seeking fast-track permission for €186m development in south Dublin

Publican Charlie Chawke is seeking permission for an eight-storey apartment scheme with hotel and shops, along with the renovation of the Goat Grill pub in Goatstown, Co Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

Publican Charlie Chawke is seeking permission for an eight-storey apartment scheme with hotel and shops, along with the renovation of the Goat Grill pub in Goatstown, Co Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

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Goatstown in south Dublin could be turned into “Goatshattan” if publican Charlie Chawke goes ahead with an eight-storey apartment scheme, local residents have warned.

Mr Chawke is seeking fast-track permission from An Bord Pleanála for a €186 million development of 299 apartments, a 22-bedroom hotel, shops and childcare facilities, along with the renovation and extension of the Goat Grill pub.

Mr Chawke has said the development will be “beautiful” and will “enhance the area”. However, local residents say their two-storey homes will be dwarfed by the apartment blocks, and the scheme, which includes plans for 475 parking spaces, will compound the already severe traffic congestion in the area.

“This would be a city centre-style development in a quiet suburban setting,” said Frank Duignan, secretary of the Birchfield Residents Association.

The application has been made to An Bord Pleanála under the “fast-track” Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process, which bypasses the council planning system.

“There have been a lot of applications recently for large SHD developments in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area and there is a general feeling that An Bord Pleanála is not taking into account the cumulative effects of these developments,” Mr Duignan said.

The local transport facilities would struggle to cope, particularly the nearby Luas Green line, he said.

“Some will argue that the Luas will be upgraded to Metro status in the coming years. However, this is at least 10 years away and even when that happens it is unlikely to improve capacity substantially at the Dundrum station. During normal rush hour trains arrive approximately every two to three minutes and are heavily crowded. It is doubtful as to whether train frequency can be increased beyond this.”

Bus services were also stretched, he said. “Goatstown is served by the 11 bus which has to contend with very heavy traffic at present. This development will make this worse. It is unlikely that Goatstown Road or the parallel Dundrum Road will ever have dedicated bus lanes given their narrowness.”

Mr Duignan said he and his neighbours were not opposed to development on the site. “We have kids and we would like housing for them when they grow up, but this is not the development that’s going to end up solving the housing crisis.”

More than 150 people attended a recent Zoom meeting organised by local Fine Gael councillors on the proposed development. Fine Gael councillor Jim O’Leary said most locals accepted the site should be developed but the height, density and its potential impact on the local infrastructure were definite concerns.

Infrastructure inadequacies

“I am in favour of compact growth and higher density development, which can sometimes mean a bit of extra height, but the density here is excessive. This will have a density of 190 units per hectare. The minimum density for the area is 45 units per hectare. This will be four times the minimum,” Mr O’Leary said. He acknowledged 45 units was a minimum level, but said: “Everything is written in terms of minimums and I can understand that because you don’t want to set a maximum because it becomes a target.”

He also pointed to local infrastructure inadequacies, including sewage capacity and the roads network. “The 475 car parking spaces will have huge implications for traffic at what is already probably the busiest junction in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown.”

This is not the first attempt Mr Chawke has made to develop the site surrounding his pub. In 2001 he sought permission for a development up to five storeys tall with 114 apartments, a medical centre, crèche, two restaurants and office and light industrial units.

The plan was refused by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and An Bord Pleanála. The board cited concerns of traffic congestion as well as the scale and height of the development.

The council subsequently drafted a local area plan for Goatstown which allowed three to four storeys on the site. The plan was passed before the 2018 Ministerial guidelines, which removed caps on height, were issued. The guidelines mandate the consideration of building heights of “at least six storeys” in city and town centres, with scope for “four storeys or more” in suburban locations.

‘Goatshattan’

Local resident Yvonne Luven acknowledges eight storeys may not seem particularly tall in the context of the skyscrapers being built in the city centre, but in the context of the local neighbourhood, eight storeys is “gigantic” she said.

“What is planned for the city centre is worse, but in proportion eight storeys are as damaging for low-rise housing estates as the skyscrapers are for the docklands and Georgian Dublin,” she said. “In future, Goatstown will be known as Goatshattan.”

The housing mix, with 202 two-bedroom apartments, 89 one-bedrooms, and just eight three-bedroom apartments, was unlikely to contribute to local housing needs, she said.

“A family is not going to buy a one-bed apartment for €500,000 when that’s more than our houses are worth. I don’t know why they’re planning a crèche, what family is going to move into this?” she said.

“Charlie Chawke has said it would be a blessing for Goatstown,” Ms Luven said. “It would be, if there was a village centre, but what we are getting is more housing without infrastructure.”

Mr Chawke was not available to speak to The Irish Times this week. However his representatives said the scheme “is intended to provide a vibrant new urban centre, with an emphasis placed on high-quality public realm and architecture”.

Higher densities “will help strengthen the urban form and enhance the overall vitality” of the area. While the apartment mix “complements the existing residential character of the area”.

Submissions on the development can be made to An Bord Pleanála until April 1st.