Thursday 27 June 2019

Developers considering other options for pedestrian access

Council hopes to hear in the coming days of access to Florence Road is possible, writes Mary Fogarty

An aerial view of the Florentine Centre from Main Street
An aerial view of the Florentine Centre from Main Street

The council is in negotiations with the developers of the Florentine in a final attempt to find a way to bring pedestrian access from the shopping centre to Florence Road.

Speaking at last Tuesday night's meeting of Bray Municipal District, District Administrator Tom Murphy said that Oakmount is considering some alternatives put to them.

Mr Murphy said that there has been a lot of activity on the site as building progresses.

He said that it was suggested in November that the council had been negotiating with the wrong landowner.

'I had asked the law department to check it out,' said Mr Murphy. 'It transpires that it is not registered in the property registration authority. Consequently, normal legal search procedures were not possible. All we can rely on to show title is the original title documents.'

Mr Murphy said that last week a meeting took place including the Cathaoirleach, president of the chamber, District Administrator, three representatives of the Florence Road Traders, and Mr Murphy.

The issue was discussed at length, and the traders suggested two new access points, referring to two sets of drawings they had. They requested that the Cthaoirleach, Cllr Pat Vance, personally arrange to meet with Oakmount to convey the views of the traders and seek a formal response to the suggested access points.

That meeting subsequently took place, and Oakmount agreed to review those options. They said they would thoroughly investigate and revert to the council as soon as possible.

Cllr Joe Behan congratulated the traders for the proactive way they tried to come up with other suggestions.

He wondered if the land to the rear of the Main Street was not registered with the authority, is it a case that it is not registered in anybody's name?

'How did we not know that? Was due diligence done at the time?'

He said that the area may now be fully blocked off and things have moved on.

'The traders don't want to be negative , they want the Florentine centre to proceed. They reserve the right to it, but don't want to bring legal action.'

Cllr Behan asked if there is a realistic chance of resolution.

Cllr Brendan Thornhill concurred with Cllr Behan's remarks.

'This has really got to be looked after,' said Cllr Thornhill. 'They are paying rates and taxes, and providing employment.'

Cllr John Ryan asked where the alternative points were and heard that one is through a fire escape area, and another at a point on Florence Road where it could potentially be possible to install a new footpath.

Cllr Pat Vance said that having attended the meetings, there is no doubt in his mind that the land originally planned for pedestrian access is in the ownership of what was formerly the Bray Sports Shop. 'To say the council was dealing with the wrong people is not correct,' he said.

'I'm not as hopeful as I thought I would be,' said Cllr Vance.

He said that Oakmount had said they would refer back to their architect and come back.

'Their initial reaction would be that there would be difficulties,' said Cllr Vance. 'I would be delighted though if they came back and said it was possible.'

Cllr Vance said that the Florence Road traders have the right to do whatever they like, but he would appeal to them to think very carefully about legal action. 'Which I know they would,' he said, adding that the meeting with traders, including their rep David Salmon, had been very amicable.

'Any legal action could delay the project significantly,' said Cllr Vance. 'I don't think that would be in the best interest of the town. I think they are aware of that.' He hoped there would be some development on the matter within a week or 10 days.

Cllr Joe Behan acknowledged that the Cathaoirleach had been working hard on this.

'It should be pointed out that they came to us looking for changes and were facilitated. I would like to see a reciprocal gesture.' Cllr Vance said that he had indeed pointed that out to Oakmount.

Cllr Christopher Fox queried whether the work had proceeded to such a point that to allow access the development would have to go almost into reverse.

'Yes that could be correct,' said Cllr Vance. 'Or take out a unit altogether.'

Cllr Dermot O'Brien said that the members have to be able to show their commitment to the pedestrian entrance.

'If their lives depended on it and there was money riding on it, I'm sure they would find a way,' said Cllr John Ryan. 'If they want to make it happen, they can make it happen.'

Wicklow People