In 2012 public opposition forced the ditching of a plan for a "retirement village" on the side of the Dublin mountains, isolated from services and public transport and cut off by the M50, in an area normally zoned for agriculture and public amenity and widely used by the public. A previous plan for a private school on the site had been rejected for similar reasons in 2005. After the local elections the plan is back in a lightly tweaked form, with the developer's sister among a number of newly elected councillors supporting the project.
In December 2012 residents celebrated when Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co. Council rejected the so-called "Ticknock Retirement Village" plan (see report at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/102820). The idea was that it would be a great idea to dispose of south Dublin’s spare elderly population in the middle of nowhere, in the Dublin mountains just south of the M50 at a location far away from services, where the motorway curtails walking and there is no public transport – and incidentally blocking off a chunk of the Dublin Mountains which is widely used for walking and dogwalking from the general public (see http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/dec2012/view_of_dub...s.jpg.)
In 2012 there was strong opposition to the proposal, with more than 100 submissions from the public as well as from bodies like An Taisce and An Oige, two-thirds of them opposed. The plan also attracted critical media attention, with local newspapers featuring Ballinteer residents protesting at the site. The County Manager noted that the site was an “inappropriate and remote location” and that the plan was contrary to the zoning plan (“to protect and improve rural amenity”), and councillors agreed to reject the proposal without a vote.(See the County Manager’s comments below and Evening Herald article at http://www.herald.ie/news/retirement-village-plans-get-....html ).
The County Manager’s reasons for refusing the plan note that a private school had previously been proposed for the site back in 2005 and rejected for very similar reasons – it is isolated, inaccessible by public transport, and impacts on local amenities. Developers don’t give up though, and a lightly tweaked version of the same plan is now back, this time as the “Grange Village” plan. During the recent local election campaign, advertisements in the local newspaper Dundrum Gazette (May 22nd) claiming that the planned village was merely 'on hold' because of 'a technicality on the Development Plan' (i.e. that it completely contravenes it), and urging constituents to vote for candidates supporting the proposed retirement village.
The press advertisement refers to a website (www.grangevillage.ie) which expands on the information, and lists (with photos) the councillors who were explicitly opposed to the plan in 2012 (all the Labour councillors, 3 FG and 2 PBP). It has a page for collecting signatures and contact details of people supporting the plan, and also includes documents from the local HSE office and the National Rehabilitation Hospital offering (somewhat vague) support. There has also been an active Facebook campaign. The technical word for this is “astroturfing” – producing fake grassroots.
The plan includes the idea of including a stroke rehabilitation clinic, while the developer’s website has a letter in support from CEO Derek Greene and the Physiotherapy Manager, Rosie Kelly of the National Rehab Hospital.
Editors Note: An earlier version of this story had suggested that the letter was signed by two members of staff working in the physiotherapist practice of recently elected independent, Lynsey McGovern in the Sandyford-Glencullen ward and this was in fact incorrect and a wrong ascertain made by the original author. Indymedia would like to apologize for this inaccuracy and have corrected the previous paragraph to that effect.
Editors Note: An earlier version of this story had suggested that three councillors endorsed by Shane Ross and who are Seamus O'Neill (Dundrum) Kevin Daly (Sandyford-Glencullen) and Deirdre Donnelly (Stillorgan) supported this development when in fact this was incorrect and they do NOT support this development and Indymedia would like to apologize for this.
Concerned residents have begun contacting local councillors, reminding those re-elected of the decision they were part of back in 2012, and informing newly-elected councillors of the background and the threat that the revived plan may come back to Council soon. It is clear that some of those originally opposed are keeping a close eye on developments. However, fears have been expressed that the Independents may use the retirement village scheme as a bargaining tool - the price of their support for other initiatives of a FG-FF coalition.
The first meeting of the new DLR Council is tonight, Friday June 6th, and there will be another in July before the summer break.
DRAFT COUNTY DEVELOPMENT PLAN
SUBMISSIONS ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO DRAFT DEVELOPMENT PLAN (extract)
The Manager agrees with those submissions objecting to the inclusion of SLO97 within the Draft Plan on the following grounds:
• Contradictory to Zoning Objective ‘B’ (To protect and improve rural amenity and to provide for the development of agriculture)
• Inappropriate and remote location.
The proposed Retirement Village is considered to be reflected by the Use Class ‘Retirement Home’, which is defined in the Draft Development Plan under Section 18.8: Definition of Use Classes as “Housing accommodation specially designed for elderly people in which dining, recreation, hygiene and health care facilities are shared on a communal basis”.
‘Retirement Home’ is not a use ‘Permitted in Principle’ or ‘Open for Consideration’ under Zoning Objective ‘B’ (To protect and improve rural amenity and to provide for the development of agriculture) (see Table 18.4 in the Draft Plan). In the current Development Plan (2004-2010) ‘Retirement Home’ is ‘Open for Consideration’ under Zoning Objective ‘B’. This was, however, removed from the Draft Plan based on analysis of recent decisions by An Bord Pleanala and in response to a very stark paper by the Chairperson of An Bord Pleanala presented at the publication of the 2007 Annual Report: “With an ageing population there is an increase in the number of nursing homes being provided around the country. Some of these are coming on appeal and it is noted that the locations of some are singularly inappropriate in planning terms and even in terms of future occupiers, operators and employees. A number of large-scale nursing homes have been proposed in isolated Greenfield sites remote from towns or villages, shops or services of any description. Invariably, these have been refused by the Board as it is considered that such facilities are best located within existing settlements where public services are available and where the occupants have some degree of access to shops and other amenities or can walk up the street and encounter members of the local community.”
In addition SLO 97 is patently contradictory to Council Policy RES9: Housing for the Elderly, which states: “It is Council policy that proposals for accommodation for the elderly should be located in existing residential areas well served by infrastructure and amenities such as footpath networks, local shops, public transport in order not to isolate residents and allow for better care in the community, independence and access. This preference, and presumption towards convenient locations apply to any scheme whether provided by communal set-ups or similar, facilities providing higher levels of care, self-contained units or a mix of these.”
An Bord Pleanala refused permission in 2005 for a private school on the subject site (D04A/0801). Three of the four reasons for refusal very much focus on the inappropriate, isolated nature of this site:
• The isolated location of the site;
• Non-accessibility by public transport;
• Prominent nature of the site and its elevated and open aspect immediately adjoining a high amenity area;
• Impact on the rural character and visual amenity of the area; and
• Traffic hazard
In full, the three reasons for refusal read as follows:
“1. Having regard to its relatively isolated location, which has not been shown to be accessible by walking, cycling or public transport and to the lack of any case made by the applicant to justify the need for the proposed development and to determine its potential catchment, it is considered that the site of the proposed development is unsuitable, in principle, for the development of educational facilities of the scale proposed and would, if permitted, conflict with the principles of sustainable development. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
3. Having regard to the prominent nature of the site and its elevated and open aspect, immediately adjoining a high amenity area designated in the development plan and having regard to the scale and location of the proposed development, it is considered that the proposed development, which would be visible from a wide area, would seriously injure the rural character and visual amenity of the area and would impact, in a detrimental way, on the view westwards from the Ticknock Road, which it is an objective of the current development plan to protect. The proposed development would, therefore, conflict with the provisions of the development plan and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
4. Having regard to the scale of the proposed development, and its location adjoining the Ticknock Road, which is a rural type road that is inadequate in width and alignment to accommodate the traffic that is likely to be generated from the proposed development and having regard to the substandard level of visibility available from the proposed site access onto the Ticknock Road, and from the junction of the Ticknock Road with the Harold’s Grange Road, it is considered that the proposed development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard, hazard to pedestrians and obstruction of road users, The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
From a sustainable travel perspective Council’s Transportation Department contend that the proposed development is poorly located particularly for the actively retired occupying individual homes, as there is very limited, if any, access to public transport at this location. The NRA in their submission considers that the proposed development could, due to its location and nature, potentially adversely impact the safety, efficiency and capacity of the national road infrastructure in this area.
In the context of the demographics of the County the Manager considers that the concept of a Retirement Village as proposed is to be welcomed in principle. The proposed site is, however, completely inappropriate and unsustainable. The desirability of such a facility within the County should not conflict with the overarching principles of proper planning and sustainable development.