THE PROCESS for closing controversial pedestrian exits onto the Naul Road from Westbrook Avenue in Balbriggan is underway although differences of opinion exist between councillors and officials as to whether one or both should be shut.
Residents have been seeking the closure of the rights of way for many years, claiming that they have been giving rise to anti-social activity in the area. At a Balbriggan/Swords area committee meeting, the council brought forward proposal to close one of the entrance points, and develop a fully accessible pedestrian link from the eastern opening onto the newly constructed footpath on the Naul Road and shut the exit on the western end. However, Cllr May McKeon (NP) believes that the two exits should be closed to alleviate the fears of residents. The council's plans will now go out on public consultation to ascertain the views of the people living in the area. Once that process is completed, it will come back before councillors, who will decided what way to proceed.
The two exits were part of the planning permission granted in 1997 for phase one of the Westbrook estate. In March 2004, when it was not under the council's control, a planning application was received requesting the closure of the exits. This was refused on the grounds on permeability, accessibility and also because they were considered to be an important link onto Naul road, particularly to the shopping centre and graveyards. In March 2006, the roads were taken in charge by Fingal County Council and the issue of closing these rights of way had been on the agenda ever since.
In July 2009 residents of Westbrook Avenue made representations to the entrance,s the way they were constructed, and anti social behaviour Councillors were told that the issue had now come to a head because of the upgrade of the Naul Road, which includes improved pedestrian and cycling links in the area. The council want to construct a fully accessible ramp at one of the rights of way and close off the other. Cllr McKeon said it was not in the interests of local people to close one of the ramps and put a ramp in at the other.
'The most appropriate thing to do at this time is close the two of them,' she said. ' The ramp from the Naul Road into the estate would be huge given the difference in depths of the roads at that location.' The council's proposal will now go on public display, before reverting back to councillors for a decision.