Plans to demolish a 162-year-old Victorian building and replace with it with a two-storey children’s amusement arcade at the Bray seafront has led to concerned residents submitting official appeals through Wicklow County Council’s (WCC) planning department.
1 Marlborough Terrace, Strand Road, in Bray was most recently the home of the Campo De Fiori restaurant but is now set to be demolished and replaced with an arcade by Bentley Leisure Limited.
According to WCC’s website the “proposed development will include a change of use from existing ground floor restaurant and upper floor residential to proposed children's amusement arcade and will include ancillary works including building signage, site excavation and development works above and below ground”.
The ground floor of the building was gutted in 2016, having served as a restaurant for over a decade, and has remained that way ever since.
On October 7 of last year WCC granted permission to the developers subject to conditions, however, in their submission appealing the development, Kevin and Deirdre Wolahan say they “were surprised that WCC’s planning authority...considered that the demolition of Marlborough Terrace and replacement with the proposed new structure would not ‘seriously’ injure the amenities of the area or properties in the area, and thus decided to grant permission.
"We would contend that it would injure to a great extent, the said amenities and properties,” they continue. “Unfortunately, we do not consider that WCC's planning Authority takes Victorian Architecture seriously enough.
"This decision is another in a line of recent WCC decisions that allowed a Victorian building to be demolished (ref. St. Paul's Lodge, Herbert Road to make way for a car park, 2018, and the removal of the iconic cast-iron railings along Strand Road in 2013 and 2016)' We cannot therefore concur with WCC's Decision, and hereby seek its overturning.”
Describing the building as “an intrinsic element of the iconic image of Bray Seafront”, they say that the introduction of another arcade so close to the existing Strand Casino would be hugely detrimental to the area.
"It is inconceivable to propose that an entire building, which in this case is effectively an extension to an existing casino (run by the applicants), can be dedicated to introducing children to and nurturing them towards the now questionable culture of gaming machines and gambling arcades. There are enough gambling arcades in the vicinity of this site.”
"Thirdly, and considering that Bray town is experiencing its worst crisis in housing availability, it is concerning that WCC would decide to grant permission for the demolition of 4 no. apartments.
"The country is enduring a national housing crisis, which is especially prevalent in Bray, and where there is a national urgency to refurbish vacant homes. lt would be a serious mistake to demolish these dwellings. It is the people of lreland who would lose out if this proposed development were to proceed,” they conclude.
A further appeal has been submitted by Chris and Mandy Comerford who say the “proximity of a children's amusement arcade to adult gaming is not in the interests of the local community or those in the broader Bray area.
"As parents of young and teenage children living close to the proposed development, we are concerned that this development in this area may encourage unhealthy engagement with gaming culture in young people.
"A children's amusement arcade on the corner of one of the busiest arteries to Bray seafront may attract large numbers of youths to loiter outside the arcade and make it difficult for pedestrians and motorists (particularly those with reduced mobility) to safely pass onto the seafront from Albert Avenue.”
A decision on whether the development will go ahead is due to be made by An Bord Pleanala on March 16.