Construction of apartments by Richmond Homes in Blackrock, Co Dublin has resulted in alterations between Knocksinna Court and the N11
The family of a young wheelchair user have expressed their anger after changes to a public right of way have turned his 80-metre trip to the bus stop into an almost impossible 1km journey.
A pathway between 23-year-old Owen Stubbs’ home in Knocksinna Court, Blackrock, Co Dublin, and the nearby main road has been replaced by a flight
of steps during construction of an apartments develop- ment.
It means his parents must now make a 900-metre detour, pushing his wheelchair up a steep hill.
A protest march was held this week between Knocksinna Court and the new development.
Owen’s father, Graham, said: “In this day and age in Ireland, developers should not be allowed to develop over public rights of way like this.
“Housing should be built. We need housing in Ireland. All we ask is that it’s done right. Access to all.”
His mother, Sheelagh, described the changes to the route as having a significant impact on Owen’s daily life.
“We now have to wheel him down a hill and up a steeper hill at Newtown Park Avenue,” she said.
“As we get older, this will become harder to do. It makes getting Owen to the bus or to visit our neighbours really challenging.”
The new development, by Richmond Homes, includes 142 build-to-rent apartments and 90 parking spaces. It was approved in 2019 by An Bord Pleanála.
The grant of permission document noted that “members of the public will have free and unrestricted access at all times to the pedestrian and cycle link which connects Granville Road with the N11”.
Owen’s parents have complained to Richmond Homes and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC), but say they have had no satisfaction.
They are now planning to take a legal case in a bid to ensure that anyone with a disability or ambulatory challenge can access the public right of way.
Mr Stubbs said: “In our observations to An Bord Pleanála, we supported the development as the country needs housing, but we were very clear that the issue of access needed to be dealt with.”
He said they felt “ignored by all the parties”, and for that reason they would not support the development any more.
“How can DLRCC and Richmond Homes believe in this day and age that removing access from vulnerable members of society from a public right of way to be a good or legal planning decision?” Mr Stubbs added.
A representative of DLRCC said that “the planning authority cannot comment on individual planning applications”.
A spokesperson for Richmond Homes said: “Richmond Homes takes its responsibilities in relation to all legal, regulatory and planning matters very seriously.
“The development at Roselawn along the N11 in south Co Dublin fully complies with the conditions set down by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and An Bord Pleanála when planning permission for the 142 new homes was granted in 2019.
“Prior to submitting its planning application, Richmond Homes engaged extensively with local residents from Knocksinna Court and met and corresponded with them on a number of occasions in relation to specific concerns regarding the proposed development and how it would impact Knocksinna Court.
“Based on that feedback, additional measures were incorporated into the final planning application and included the construction of a new turning circle to accommodate wheelchair-accessible buses, improved disabled access and parking for vehicles on Knocksinna Court, the resurfacing of its road and a new pathway and the diversion of construction traffic away from Knocksinna Court on to the N11.
“Prior to the planning application, feedback from the Knocksinna Court residents was sought and incorporated into the planning application.
“All major concerns raised up to that point were addressed prior to planning permission being submitted and ultimately granted in 2019.
“Building commenced two years ago in accordance with the granted permission and to deviate from the granted planning at this late stage is not possible.
“Richmond Homes is now keen to ensure that the new homes are available for occupation at the earliest opportunity.
“At the same time, the company continues to liaise closely with the local community and do all in its powers to address issues raised by residents in the area.”