Residents unhappy decision made at county level
Residents of Herbert Road heard at last week's meeting of Bray Municipal District that a vote whether or not to demolish St Paul's Lodge would take place at a full council meeting on Monday last.
On Tuesday, March 6, the group of residents made a presentation to the members, objecting to the demolition of the building in order to create parking spaces.
'We were led to believe that the final decision would not be made at county level this month on the Part 8 proposal,' said a spokesman. 'This feels like utter contempt for our 12,000-word detailed submission and for scores of other submissions received'
They heard that the county council meeting had been scheduled for the previous day (Monday, March 5) but was put back to last Monday, March 12, due to the snow.
'The manner in which this is being handled has really exacerbated emotions in Bray, in our opinion, and is likely to lead to all kinds of needless complications in respect to the Florentine development and other issues. We understand that Mr O'Brien [Des, District Manager] will soon be moving on to other things, but the consequences of what is now being done will remain for others.'
They said that the idea that 45 car parking spaces will solve some traffic problem in Bray is absurd.
'The council should have planned all this better before selling the central Bray Florentine site to Paddy McKillen's Navybrook and losing the 200 spaces use there for years. The cost of the 45 new spaces will be about half of what they received for the site.'
'We believe that sustainable progress in Bray means building on the town's existing strengths. We can have both the Florentine Centre and St Paul's Lodge,' they said in their presentation.
They called on the council to resell the house. 'In a rising market, this will allow the council to recoup its costs or make a profit,' they said.
They suggested also selling two sites for houses adjacent to the car park, explicitly for architecturally high-quality homes. 'The sale of those sites together with the resale of St Paul's should give the council over €2 million to play with for alternative parking needs in Bray. It will also add three homes to the national housing stock instead of reducing one to rubble.'
The residents said that there is widespread opposition in Bray to the proposal to demolish St Paul's.
'That opposition is running at over 90 per cent according to a sample opinion poll in the town. Scores of people have also petitioned for St Paul's Lodge to be listed for preservation. Given the time available tonight, we will just touch on our three preferred options, but we stress that these do not exclude others.'
Alternatives they suggested including the civic centre car park, the civic centre roadway and entrance, or a discreet and low-slung two-storey car park at the Herbert Road car park.
'This is a turning point for the development of Bray, a chance to get things better, not just at the Florentine but on Herbert Road and elsewhere,' they said. 'The Florentine Centre does not depend on knocking St Paul's Lodge. We are here tonight to help Bray build on its strengths and not to reduce them.'