Proposed Traveller housing site faces 93 objections, including the effect on views and property prices
Published 20/10/2015 | 02:30
The selection of a site in one of Dublin's most affluent suburbs for housing and caravan bays for Travellers has been a contentious issue for decades.
The site at Mount Anville Road, in Mount Merrion, was identified as a possible site for Traveller accommodation as far back as 1985.
It has featured in the last two Traveller Accommodation Programmes developed by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in 2009 and 2014.
In the latest plan, it is slated for five housing units with bays for caravans. However, this has yet to be progressed and no funding has been applied for.
The site, located close to a council depot, is unused and has been valued at up to €5m. It was included in the plan despite a campaign of opposition from local residents.
Councillors adopted that plan by a margin of 16 votes to 10.
Planning files show 93 objections made against locating Traveller accommodation there.
Eight of those objections, submitted by individual residents, were on the basis that properties would be devalued.
Other submissions were more wide-ranging. The Mount Merrion Residents Association said there was no demand for halting sites in the area. It also cited traffic issues.
The residents association at Ardilea Downs, just off Mount Anville Road, said the site would be an ineffective use of taxpayers' resources. They also expressed concerns about the "visual aspect" if the site became Traveller accommodation. Many objectors cited the inclusion of the site in the plan as an example of positive discrimination.
The vast majority of submissions said the site should be sold and used to fund the purchase of other sites.
Mount Anville Road was one of 11 potential sites outlined in the plan. Three sites were identified as potential halting sites, at Cloragh, Kilternan and West Pier.
Eight were identified as potential accommodation sites, at Enniskerry Road, Bird Avenue, Pottery Road, Lehaunstown, Stillorgan Grove, Rathmichael Road, UCD and Mount Anville Road.
When it came before the council in January 2014, the plan was voted against by Fine Gael representatives John Bailey, Maria Bailey, Tom Joyce, Neale Richmond, Barry Saul and Barry Ward, and Fianna Fáil councillors Aoife Brennan, Cormac Devlin, Gerry Horkan and Tom Murphy.
Several councillors contacted by the Irish Independent made it clear they did not oppose the plan over the Mount Anville Road site, but had other issues with it.
Fine Gael councillor Maria Bailey, for example, said she wanted to ensure that each area within the local authority developed an even share of Traveller accommodation.
"It is only right that there be an equal distribution throughout the wards," she said.
This view was echoed by her father, Cllr John Bailey.
Fianna Fáil councillor Cormac Devlin said he had voted in favour of the previous Traveller Accommodation Programme in 2009.
But he said sites contained in that plan had not been developed.
"Therefore I didn't feel it was right to proceed with discussing new sites unless they were developing existing ones," he said.
Fine Gael councillor Neale Richmond said he objected to the plan because of the inclusion of a site on the Enniskerry Road, which he believed to be unsuitable.
"I objected on grounds of topography and location. It is a badly sloping site. It is nowhere near local services, local facilities and schools," he said. "It is a very steep site. It would require a serious amount of work to make it habitable." However, he did have some concerns about the Mount Anville site, even though it was outside his ward.
"I would have thought there would have been scope for the site to be developed for commercial residency and the funds from that could go to proceeding [other] sites," he said.
Fine Gael councillor Barry Ward said his difficulty with the plan was that it included land at St John of God in Stillorgan, and not enough information had been provided about what was intended in relation to it.
"We don't own that land so you would have been talking about the expenditure of millions of euro to buy one of the most expensive parcels of land in the county to build a small scheme," he said.