Donabate Portrane Community Council has expressed 'disappointment' at the consultation process being undertaken by Fingal County Council on an Urban Framework Plan for Donabate but the council has defended the process.
Donabate Portrane Community Council said that the process was 'only a limited consultation with selected community groups', which did not include the community council.
A spokesperson for the community council said the 'community at large will only be permitted to engage with the process after the draft Urban Framework Plan has been published, essentially at a time when it is too late in the process to meaningfully engage'.
The spokesman for Donabate Portrane Community Council said it does however, welcome the move to have an Urban Framework Plan for the town. The community council says that despite major residential growth, the town continues to suffer with commercial, retail and community facilities only capable of serving a small rural village.
But the community council said it was concerned that the county council has been 'rebuffing its efforts over the last few months to have a meaningful consultation process carried out into the framework plan'.
It criticised an 'invite-only' meeting about the plan in Donabate Library held recently where it said some residents were denied entry. The community council said that a number of local politicians 'pleaded with the council officials to allow residents to attend the meeting'.
'These politicians protested strongly against this course of action,' the community council spokesperson said. Fingal County Council has sought to assert that, as the proposed Urban Framework Plan is a non-statutory document, there is no need for them to engage in proper public consultation. However, Donabate Portrane Community Council has pointed out that the country council permitted full public consultation from the outset in relation to another non-statutory plan for the Castlelands Masterplan in Balbriggan during 2018 and 2019.'
The community council spokesperson said: "The position adopted by Fingal County Council in excluding the Donabate community from the process has fundamentally damaged the trust between it and the community. We have once again written to Fingal County Council, expressing in the strongest terms our objection to the approach they have adopted.'
Donabate Portrane Community Council has called a public meeting in the Parish Hall in Donabate for Tuesday, January 28 next, at 8pm and has invited Fingal County Council to attend and to co-host this meeting with Donabate Portrane Community Council.
Fingal County Council defended the process and said there would be 'extensive consultation' on the plan.
Fingal County Council said the event in Donabate Library had over fifty people, comprising representatives from 25 community groups, attending a workshop on the plan.
A council spokesperson said: 'Over the next few weeks further workshops are planned with businesses, residents' associations and schools as part of this extensive participatory process which will lead to a draft plan. This will be subject to further consultation and input from the local community. The process mirrors what happened in Rush where the council developed a similar plan, in collaboration with the local community, which seeks to rejuvenate and improve the town centre there.'
Fingal County Council's Director of Planning and Strategic Infrastructure, Matthew McAleese, said: 'The process we used in developing the Rush Urban Framework Plan is recognised as best practice participatory planning and we found that having small focused groups worked very well in determining from the local community and businesses what the vision for their town centre should be.'
Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly, said that the Council was working closely with the elected councillors who represent the area to make sure that the concerns of the community are considered.