A Strategic Housing Development pre-application has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála by the Land Development Agency (LDA) at Castlelands in Balbriggan which would bring 815 housing units to the site.
This process bypasses Fingal County Council's Planning Department and will be decided upon by An Bord Pleanála.
Balbriggan councillor, Tony Murphy has expressed serious concerns about the plans, saying: 'The timing of this application tells its own wtory. It is obvious that the LDA's understanding that Strategic Housing Development applications (which are due to be abolished soon) are forcing an unwanted badly designed housing development onto the community of Balbriggan.'
Cllr Murphy attended a draft Castlelands Masterplan briefing last week with representatives from Fingal County Council's Planning Department and local councillors. He said: 'This draft plan has not presented enough changes to satisfy 1,000 submissions made by the people of Balbriggan. I debated at public meetings in Fingal County Council during 2019, I fought hard and spoke passionately to get the original heights and densities reduced. Subsequently, the draft masterplan has presented some changes going from the original six storey design down to two and 4.5 storey. The densities have also been reduced going from 60-80 units per hectare down to 35-50 units per hectare.'
Fingal County Council propose to bring the new draft plan before councillors for the February Area Committee Meeting and further propose to bring the Masterplan before the full council in March.
Cllr Murphy went on to say: 'The design does not go far enough and is premature for Balbriggan. I appreciate that we have a National Housing issue, but Balbriggan is being compromised by this early proposal. There are many reasons why this location is not suited for a development of this size. A previous Local Area Plan (LAP) clearly expressed the sensitivity and topography of this site and suggested low rise, low density to be the appropriate design to be delivered.'
Cllr Murphy added: 'Currently, the Castlelands area has experienced many challenges, where people must wait over 30 minutes to exit their housing estates, during peak traffic times. A new road proposal over the railroad adjoining the Skerries Road (R127) is part of the design planned, however, this will not be the responsibility of the Land Development Agency (LDA). A proposal for a swimming pool, a much-desired public amenity is also not the responsibility of the LDA. As land is identified for a swimming pool in the design plan, the responsibility for its delivery falls within the remit of Fingal County Council.'
He concluded: 'If this proposal proceeds, the only recurse the people of Balbriggan will have is to seek a judicial review to stop the development. Balbriggan is not ready for any further development. We are not ready for this now, we are in catch-up mode.'