Residents protest proposed housing beside St Anne’s Park

Local campaign forms human chain around controversial north Dublin development site

Large numbers of people supporting the I Love St Anne’s campaign holding a rally in the Raheny park on Sunday.   Photograph: Alan Betson

Large numbers of people supporting the I Love St Anne’s campaign holding a rally in the Raheny park on Sunday. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Hundreds of north Dublin residents formed a human chain around the site of a proposed residential development on former playing fields located beside St Anne’s Park in Raheny on Sunday.

Locals have been opposing plans to build apartments on the land by developer Crevkav, who last month lodged a new planning application for more than 650 units in blocks up rising to nine storeys in height.

The “I Love St Anne’s” campaign previously succeeded in stopping the development when planning approval for 536 houses and apartments on the land was overturned following a High Court challenge. It led to An Bord Pleanála reversing its decision on the plan by Crevkav, a subsidiary of developer Pat Crean’s Marlet Group. It is taking a legal challenge over the refusal.

Tara Clemons, a mother of three teenagers living in Artane, was among those who participated in the protest.

“We all know there’s a need for housing but it’s social housing not luxury apartments that’s needed. It’s socially affordable houses that’s needed, but we also need sustainable development,” she said.

Ursula Morrissey, from Raheny, attended the protest with her seven-year-old granddaughter Sólrún, whose father grew up in the area.

“We’ve been coming here for 54 years. I don’t think they should be building on what is part of the former parklands, it’s too near the main avenue, it’s going to be highly intrusive,” she said. “There is an enormous opposition to it as you can see ... this is a park for everyone in Dublin.”

‘Overshadow the park’

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said such a development would “overshadow the park” and affect the “environmental integrity” of the area.

“We take the flak for supporting housing developments that residents can be a bit unsure or uncomfortable with and we’re happy to do that,” he said, adding that he believed the site was “inappropriately zoned”.

Other politicians in attendance included Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath and Fianna Fáil TD Seán Haughey, who both represent the Dublin Bay North constituency.

Mr McGrath said opposition to the housing was not based on nimby-ism (not in my back yard), but because the planning application was a “bad proposal”.

“In the current climate about climate change it’s absolutely bonkers to have nine-storey apartments inside a public park,” he said.

Guinness family

The land was formerly owned by the Vincentian Fathers, who are the trustees of St Paul’s College. It had once been part of the St Anne’s Estate, owned by the Guinness family, but was acquired by Dublin Corporation in the 1940s before the Vincentian Fathers bought it in the 1950s.

A spokeswoman for the I Love St Anne’s campaign said there was “enough land in our city properly zoned for residential development” and the land beside the park was not a “suitable place” for housing.

“It’s not in anyone’s actual back yard – there are three houses that back on to this park so this is all about people who use the park.”