An Bord Pleanála has been urged to reject an application for more than 100 build-to-rent apartments in the centre of Balbriggan town.
The application was recently lodged through the fast-track Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process, which means it bypasses the local authority and goes straight to the planning board for a decision.
The Templar Place SHD, which has been submitted by Rhonellen Developments Ltd, is proposed for the site of the former Mall Shopping Centre on Quay Street and High Street.
The development would see the demolition of existing buildings on the site, including the former supermarket, car park, substation and outbuildings.
The complex comprises 101 apartments across three blocks, ranging in height from three to six storeys. There are 19 studio, 41 one-bed and 41 two-bed units proposed, in addition to two retail units. There will be parking for 25 cars and spaces for 182 bicycles.
The plans also provide for open spaces, landscaping, boundary treatments and all associated site works.
According to an architectural design statement submitted as part of the SHD application, the site is “ideally situated for development”. It describes Balbriggan as “a bustling coastal town” within the Greater Dublin Area and says the land in question is “a strategic infill site”, located just 350m from Balbriggan train station and 3km from the M1 motorway.
The document states that the proposed development would be located within an existing employment centre and is easy walking distance of numerous local facilities and amenities.
“The proposed scheme will create a new vibrant district in the heart of Balbriggan, proximate to high-quality public transport and services, and will represent a considerable enhancement of the residential character of the area,” it adds.
The site is located within the designated Balbriggan Town Core Architectural Conservation Area and is zoned Objective MC – “to protect, provide for and/or improve major town centre facilities”. The developers have prepared a detailed Architectural Conservation Report as part of their submission.
Cllr Grainne Maguire (Ind) told Fingal Independent she would be objecting to the SHD application.
“To me, this represents overdevelopment of a space that is going to be central to the ‘Our Balbriggan’ rejuvenation plan,” she told Fingal Independent.
She said while she was supportive of the need for additional housing in the town, she did not believe that the type of units proposed in the scheme would provide suitable accommodation for families. She added that she had concerns about SHD applications because they completely bypass the local authority planning process.
“In the not to distant future, SHDs are going to be gone,” she stated. “If they are going to go next February, why can’t we just get rid of them now?”
In a video posted on social media, Cllr Tony Murphy (Ind) said he was also opposed to the SHD application for the former Quinnsworth site in Balbriggan.
“Personally, I think this is totally inappropriate,” he stated. “I will be making an objection and would urge others who are in agreement with me to do the same.”