Disappointment at 'shameful' decision to demolish St Paul's
Herbert Road residents unhappy as Wicklow County councillors vote to knock down house to create extra spaces in car park, reports Mary Fogarty
Councillors have agreed to plans to demolish St Paul's Lodge on Herbert Road in order to increase the adjacent car park by 47 spaces.
The decision was taken at meeting of Wicklow County Council on Monday, following more than two hours of debate and a temporary suspension of the meeting.
'The decision by members of Wicklow County Council to approve by 16-10 the destruction of St Paul's Lodge on Herbert Road for 47 car park spaces is shameful,' said a group of residents of the area in a statement after Monday's meeting. 'We regret that we could not stop the permanent damage to Bray's architectural heritage and landscape that this needless demolition will now cause. We also regret that Wicklow County Council was unwilling to hear our case against the proposal at its meeting, despite being asked to do so weeks ago and again last week,' they said.
'We believe that the procedure followed by officials has been flawed and has resulted in bad planning. Unfortunately the powers of local government today prevent any appeal on planning grounds, and a judicial review of procedure is prohibitive for householders.' A resident of Herbert Road in the public gallery raised a procedural objection when a council official said that his report to councillors on the proposal had addressed all points in submissions by up to 150 people against demolition.
'The Chairman briefly adjourned the meeting to consider the matter and, when it was resumed, no further such claim was made,' said the residents. The residents said that they were disappointed that proposals from Cllr Brendan Thornhill (to seek legal advice) and from Cllr Steven Matthews (to allow local Bray councillors alone to make the final decision) were rejected. 'Bray people need to sit up and take notice,' said the residents. 'For the second time recently, the views of Bray residents have been rejected at county level. It happened first about building in Little Bray on the flood plain. Now near Bray town centre it has resulted in a decision to demolish a fine house during a housing shortage.' The council bought St Paul's Lodge for €880,000 plus the sellers' expenses.
One of those in favour of the Part 8, Cllr Pat Vance said that parking has been a problem in Bray for a long number or years. '50 additional spaces won't solve the problem because we need more but the Florentine is due to come on stream in May, which could result in the closure of the car park, with the loss of 250 spaces,' he said.
'I believe that the sale of St. Paul's Lodge was a missed opportunity to provide some key town services for the benefit of locals and retailers,' said Cllr Jennifer Whitmore after Monday's meeting. 'If we want our town centres to flourish, we need to begin thinking innovatively and provide services the meet the needs of our shoppers. I believe that a drop-in creche facility, would make shopping so much easier and would encourage more people to shop locally. I had hoped that St Pauls Lodge could have been used in part for this purpose. Despite the disappointing vote on Monday, I am still keen to see this happen.'