Mixed result for Blackrock housing

A northside councillor claimed this week that Fianna Fáil councillors were talking as if there is no housing crisis on Leeside.

Cllr Fiona Ryan’s statement came during a lengthy debate in City Hall on Monday on whether to change the city development plan which would allow for land at Blackrock Hurling Club to be built on.

Residents from the area were in the gallery as they watched a tense discussion take place about their neighbourhood and they clapped when it was announced that 26 councillors voted against changing the plan and one for it.

It came before councillors who had to vote on whether to rezone the land, at Cherry Lawn on Church Road, from sporting to residential use which, if given the green light, would have paved the way for 30 apartments to be built.

Throughout the four week consultation phase, 59 submissions were received. These submissions opposed the development on traffic congestion, reduction in amenity green space for the area, increase in anti-social behaviour and subsidence and drainage concerns.

During the debate, Fine Gael Cllr Des Cahill explained that residents had one main issue with the plan which indicated that the development would join up with the old Blackrock railway line walkway. This is something that residents were against because they had a fear that it would lead to more anti-social behaviour in the area. He added that he understood the financial pressures that the Rockies’ have, but he would be siding with residents on this.

Similarly Fianna Fáil’s Terry Shannon was also against the development but understood the club’s funding issues.

“This development isn’t the way to go. It would open up a can of worms if we give it the go ahead,” he said.

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy said: “I acknowledge the work Blackrock Hurling Club do for the community but on this occasion I’m siding with the residents. I’ve always had concerns about rezoning green spaces, too.”

Solidarity’s Fiona Ryan said: “The pedestrian access isn’t ideal but we’re in the worst housing crisis that the State has ever seen. Fianna Fáil councillors are talking like there’s no housing crisis.”

However, Fianna Fáil councillors Mary Rose Desmond and Seán Martin were quick to stick up for their party with both of them describing what she said as “disingenuous”.

Cllr Desmond claimed that Cllr Ryan wasn’t at a meeting with residents to hear their concerns.

“This is not nimbyism. Ward councillors can see what would go wrong here and residents have never objected to development of houses and apartments in the area,” she added.

Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle questioned if other sporting organisations could use it by way of a swap, while his party colleague Lorna Bogue said that she didn’t want it to come to a stage where developers were contacting clubs who were in financial distress about building on their lands.

Social housing

Meanwhile, another planning application to build social housing in Blackrock was also a bone of contention for some councillors during the same council meeting - a proposed development of 16 units off the Skehard Road. However, councillors were concerned that one of the access roads to the new housing project wasn’t suitable, after discussions with people living nearby.

Some, like Cllr Shannon, said that the issue was that one access road which would be through Clontarf Estate. “There’s a need for housing but that doesn’t mean we should develop everything that comes our way. The proposal doesn’t add value to the residential area,” he added.

Ten of the 16 units will be accessed through Clontarf Estate while the other six will be accessed from Skehard Road. A housing official with City Hall said that its roads department reviewed the issues about the access roads and deemed the project okay to be given the green light.

Cllr Shannon said it would be better if there was just one entrance, that being off Skehard Road.

Fine Gael’s Des Cahill and Deirdre Forde and Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy were against the plans too. The housing official said that it would reduce the size of the development to 12 units if there was one access road from Skehard Road.

Cllr Ryan said she couldn’t vote against the project given the current housing crisis, while similarly Sinn Féin Cllr Thomas Gould said he couldn't in good consciousness vote against it because it would change the lives of 16 families.

“I feel it’s the right thing to do on balance,” he said.

The plan for ten three-bedroom houses and six two-bedroom apartments was given the go ahead with 17 councillors voting in favour of it and 11 against it.