Housing plan in Dublin halted to facilitate Eastern Bypass

Plan to build homes on East Wall site deemed at odds with finishing circular motorway

The M50 was the western side of a planned circular motorway. Photograph: Frank Miller

The M50 was the western side of a planned circular motorway. Photograph: Frank Miller

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Plans to rezone land for housing in East Wall have been shelved amid concerns new homes could scupper the development of the Eastern Bypass under Sandymount strand.

A circular motorway around Dublin city was first proposed in the 1970s. The western side of the circle was built in the form of the M50, but the eastern side, which would have required a tunnel under, or bridge over, Dublin bay never went ahead. However, plans for the road have remained part of national and local policy since.

Last year, in response to the housing crisis, Dublin City Council selected 20 plots totalling 55 hectares, which it plans to change from industrial zoning to residential or mixed-use zoning. One of the larger plots was an 11-hectare site on East Wall Road, close to the port tunnel and the docklands, which could have accommodated hundreds of apartments.

Upgrade works

However, the Office of the Planning Regulator and Transport Infrastructure Ireland raised concerns the rezoning could “potentially prejudice the delivery” of the motorway, particularly the first section which would connect the M50 to the south side of Dublin port, and that the construction of housing could compromise the ability to undertake future upgrade works to the existing tunnel.

The council has accepted these concerns and decided it would be “premature” to rezone the lands.

The planning regulator also warned the council against zoning a site in Kilmainham due to flood risks. The Office of Public Works (OPW) also raised concerns that the site, to the north of Old Kilmainham Road close to the Carmac river, had flooded in the past and said it would be “contrary to the guidelines to rezone the lands for residential development knowing that an adequate standard of protection has not been provided”.

The council agreed to postpone the zoning of this portion of land until a flood alleviation scheme was in place.

Citywide spread

Councillors will on Monday night be asked to approve the rezoning of the remaining sites, which could accommodate more than 2,000 homes.

The sites are spread across the city, with a concentration in the southwest and northeast. Lands include: the Mornington Business Park, a one-hectare site off the Malahide Road in Artane that is bounded on all sides by residential development; a vacant site, just 0.16 of a hectare, on Ballyfermot Road Lower, previously a coal yard; and a site on Esmond Avenue, Fairview (0.2 of a hectare), which is used as a builder’s yard but could be suitable for housing.

More than 280 organisations, residents’ associations and individuals made submissions to the council earlier this year on the proposed rezonings. While many submissions were supportive of the rezonings, large numbers of residents and residents’ groups opposed the plans for their local areas. Chief among their concerns was there was already “too much” housing in the locality and transport services and schools would be unable to cope with increased populations. Other concerns included the uncertainty around the type of homes which would be built, including a fear of tall apartment blocks.