Government must suspend all home repossession proceedings to clarify if they are fulfilling EU law obligations

At the Dail calling for a moratorium on all home repossessions

At the Dail calling for a moratorium on all home repossessions

Today I joined the Green Party TDs and Senator to call Government to immediately introduce a moratorium on home repossessions, as there is a risk that EU Law is not properly being applied in the repossession process and the State may be liable for illegal repossessions if EU law if this is the case.

On the 21st of December, the High Court ruled in the case of AIB v Counihan that European Consumer Law must be considered in the context of home repossessions. This means that Judges or County Registrars dealing with repossessions must carry out an assessment of whether the contract’s terms were fair and proportionate. Further to this, EU case law in Kušionová may also require such assessments be made with reference to the fundamental protection afforded to the ‘home’ under the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Failure to abide by EU law, where applicable, would render repossessions illegal – with the State liable.

This is a very serious situation. Prior to Christmas the County Waterford Registrar suspended all repossession cases until there is legal clarity – but all other areas are continuing as before. The Government must consult the Judiciary and County Registrars to ensure that the resources required to carry out the assessments, as laid down by EU law, are available. If cases continue to be processed without the necessary resources being allocated, the State is likely to be liable if repossessions occur for failing to afford consumers the protections they are entitled to.

We’re calling for the Government to introduce a moratorium on repossessions until they have consulted the Judiciary and County Registrars to ensure that there are adequate resources to fulfil the legal obligations under EU law, and legal clarity is restored. The Minister for Justice has agreed to debate the matter in the Dail this evening.

New planning application near Clonsilla village

A planning app has been submitted for the site a the corner of the Clonsilla Rd and the Clonsilla Link Rd.

A planning app has been submitted for the site a the corner of the Clonsilla Rd and the Clonsilla Link Rd.

A significant new planning application has been submitted for the site at the corner of the Clonsilla Road and Clonsilla Link Road, beside Porters Gate estate.

The proposed development is for:

  • 103 residential units in total (made up of 67 two storey houses and 36 apartments in two 3 storey blocks)
  • A two storey convenience food store of 1,300m2 aprox
  • A single storey building with a cafe and shop
  • 40 carparking spaces for the aparetment blocks and 82 spaces for the commercial development
  • An ESB substation
  • New entrance off the Clonsilla Link Road (opposite entrance to Castlefield Court)

There is already planning permission in existence (which applies up to 2020) for 166 residential units (138 apartments and 28 houses) and some commercial units on this site.

The applicant number is FW16a/0176. The deadline for submission is the 13th Jan.

Feel free to get in touch if you wish to discuss this or any other issues with me.

Shining a Light on Domestic Violence

 

Last Friday at the Fingal Joint Policing Committee (JPC), we had a significant discussion about the incidents of domestic violence being reported across Fingal. Each of the superintendents for the four districts (Blanchardstown, Swords/Malahide, Howth, Balbriggan) set out the number of offences in 2016 to date, the 2015 comparison, and any specific measures they had introduced to deal with the area.

The availability of these statistics were on foot of a request that I had made earlier in the year that each district would report on their domestic violence figures along with other crime statistics that they present at the quarterly JPC meetings.

The discussion on domestic violence wasn’t specifically on the meeting’s agenda. It flowed naturally from the fact that each superintendent had made comments about the domestic violence stats in their area. This was exactly the outcome I was hoping for when I made the request for the stats to be provided – that we would give a greater public profile to the issue of domestic violence. It is widely understood that this is a significantly under-reported crime. So when victims are brave enough to go to the Gardai, it is important that those of us who are public reps take account of that fact.

In the discussion, we learnt that some districts are now using a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer, who calls back anyone who reported an incident to check up on the situation. A phone service for high risk victims is also being implemented.

The JPC is made up of the Gardai, local councillors and TDs and a number of community representatives. Hopefully, this group can spread the message of the importance of tackling domestic violence across Fingal.

My Observations on Lidl Appeal

 

Monday was the deadline for observations to An Bord Pleanala regarding the five appeals made to the Bord about the grant of planning permission for the Lidl development at Castleknock village.

You can see my observation below.

An Bord Pleanala have up to 6 months to rule on the appeal.

 

The Secretary,

An Bord Pleanála,

64 Marlborough St.,

Dublin 1.

20/11/16

Re: Observation on Appeal An Bord Pleanála Ref: PL06F.247458 (Fingal FW16A/0006)

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to make an observation on the appeal to An Bord Pleanala made by the Castleknock Residents Action Group (CRAG), submitted on the 25th October, in respect of the grant of planning permission by Fingal County Council for the construction of a Lidl supermarket and other buildings under application FW16A/0006. I am supporting their appeal under the headings of:

  • Increased Traffic Movement in Castleknock Village
  • Parking
  • Area of Architectural Conservation
  • Castleknock Park

My address is 1 Avon Lodge, the Plaza, Main Street Blanchardstown, D15 X898.

I enclose the €50 fee for an observation.

Yours sincerely,

_________________

Cllr. Roderic O’Gorman

 

Introduction – Context of the Development

This proposed development is for a significant back-lands site in the centre of Castleknock development. It has been the focus of a number of planning applications over the last ten years, with An Bord Pleanala rejecting an appeal against a refusal of planning permission by Fingal County Council in December 2014 and rejecting an appeal against a grant of planning permission for the original Uxbridge proposal in February 2010. All of these proposals have been widely opposed by the vast majority of residents in the area. While it is accepted that this site will be developed, both the current application and the previous ones are regarded as being unacceptable on the combined basis of their scale in a low-rise urban village, their incongruity in an architectural conservation area, their potential impact on adjoining established estates and the impact that the extra traffic generated will cause on the surrounding area.

 

Increased Traffic Movement in Castleknock Village

The proposed development is in close proximity to three national schools: Castleknock National School (1 stream), St. Brigids National School (4 stream) and Castleknock Educate Together National School (2 stream). The size of these schools gives an indication of the degree of movement occurring during the school run period. Both Castleknock National School and the Education Together would have catchment areas running far wider that the Castleknock village area, necessitating the use of cars to get to and from school.

The grant of planning permission allows for opening hours from 8:00am and deliveries from 7:00am. The extra level of traffic activity generated from deliveries and shoppers accessing the development causes concerns from both the point of view of increased congestion, but also safety issues for children walking or cycling to the local schools.

 

Parking

The grant of planning permission allows the development proceed with a significant under-provision of car parking facilities compared to the requirements of the Fingal Development Plan for commercial developments at Table TO3b in the Fingal Development Plan 2011-17. The justification for the provision of 113 spaces, as opposed to the recommended level of 213 spaces, is speculative in the extreme and does not warrant an under-provision of 47% vis-à-vis the recommended amount. Objective Castleknock 2 in the Fingal Development Plan 2011-17 requires that any infill development will improve the physical and environmental characteristics of the village. It is submitted that the overflow parking that will be generated from the under-provision at the proposed development will negatively impact on both the physical and environmental characteristic of the village, which already suffers from a lack of parking spaces.

 

Area of Architectural Conservation

Castleknock is a historic village and this has been given statutory recognition through the creation of an architectural conservation area (ACA) in the centre of the village as part of successive Fingal County Council development plans. While the applicants for planning permission claim to have created a design that is sympathetic with the existing low rise and red brick theme of the village main street, it is difficult from an objective point of view to accept that this has been achieved. The design, materials and stark modernity of the proposed development are completely at odds with the existing scheme of the village. It is submitted that the proposed development breaches Objective AH17 of the Fingal Development Plan 2011-17:

Ensure that any new development or alteration of a building within or adjoining an ACA

positively enhances the character of the area and is appropriate in terms of the proposed design, including: scale, mass, height, proportions, density, layout, materials, plot ratio, and building lines.

The proposed new development does not enhance the character of the area, is not appropriate in terms of scale, mass, layout, material and building lines.

 

Castleknock Park

In the event of a decision to uphold the grant of planning permission, I would argue that An Bord Pleanala should re-examine Condition 12 of the planning permission as decided by Fingal. In the original Uxbridge application, as approved by An Bord Pleanala, provision was made for a full wall at the boundary between the site and Castleknock Park. This has been downgraded to a wall with some fencing on-top under the current grant of planning permission. It light of the major change to the area that would result from the proposed development in terms of increased noise, visual intrusion, lack of privacy, I would submit that at the very least, residents of Castleknock Park should be entitled to have a complete barrier in the form of a full wall placed between their estate and the new development, in order to protect their residential amenity, as is currently provided for under the ‘RS’ zoning that currently applies to this estate.

Coolmine Recycling Centre to open an extra 2 days per week

Response to question I put down last year seeking increased opening hours for Coolmine Recycling Centre

Response to question I put down last year seeking increased opening hours for Coolmine Recycling Centre

I’m delighted that Fingal Management have announced that the Coolmine Recycling Centre is now to open six days a week from 9am to 4pm. This will make it significantly easier for Dublin 15 residents to dispose of their recyclable waste.

Up to now, Coolmine was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, while Fingal’s other recycling centre in Swords is open six days a week. Considering the population of Dublin 15, I felt this was an unfair allocation of resources, so following the passing of Fingal’s 2016 Budget, I had put questions to Fingal’s management regarding increasing the opening hours at Coolmine. At the time, I was told that the cost of the extra opening hours would have been an extra €150,000 a year, which was considered excessive.

However, due to recent staff reassignments, the Council is now in a position to reopen Coolmine on Mondays and Tuesdays, along with the existing Wednesday to Saturday service.

This announcement about increased opening times follows on from the initiative taken before Halloween which allowed for the free disposal of combustible material at Coolmine Recycling Centre, to avoid such material ending up on bonfires. We should recognise these steps that Fingal’s Operations Department in Dublin 15 is taking to provide more effective services in our community.

Provision for cycling within the new Fingal Development Plan

Throughout October, myself and the other Fingal councillors were voting on amendments to the new draft Fingal Development Plan.

One issue which got a lot of public attention was some decisions taken about the provision of cycling facilities across Fingal. Myself and my Green Party colleague, Cllr. David Healy, had put forward a proposal that when new schools are being built, the Council should acquire any pieces of land around the schools that would be necessary to create a safe walking or cycling route to that school.

We saw this as both important from the point of view of road safety, but also that it is more sensible to try and secure safe routes at the point when a school is being built, as opposed to trying to retro-fit walking and cycling routes onto an existing school.

After a long and fairly contentious debate (you can watch here), our motion was defeated 19 – 16. I was both surprised and disappointed by this. While many councillors who voted against the motion stated they were in favour of safe cycling, I was deeply unconvinced by their reasons for rejecting it.

Subsequently, a majority of councillors rejected a second proposal from Cllr. Healy and myself to place restrictions on HGVs around schools at drop-off times.

On the other hand, we were successful in getting a requirement for a 30kmph zone in proximity to primary and secondary schools, which can be implemented once the draft Development Plan is passed in March 2017. I also had an objective inserted promoting cycle route linkages between Castleknock village with both the Phoenix Park and Blanchardstown village.

Update on Brady’s apartment proposal

Clarifications sought by Fingal planners from developer

Clarifications sought by Fingal planners from developer

I received a notification from Fingal in the last few days that the planners have again written to the developers of the proposed apartments at Brady’s, looking for ‘Clarification of Additional Information’.

I’m pleased to see that the specific issue that I raised in my own recent submission – the failure to include a shadow analysis for the Winter period – was one of the two points that the Council planners identified as lacking in what the developers have supplied to date.

It is essential that the planners are given the correct information about the impact of the proposed four storey apartment blocks on the surrounding existing homes.

Once the developers supply this, we shall have another opportunity to make submissions.

Update on Waterville

Response from Gardai to questions about crime/anti-social behaviour in Waterville

Response from Gardai to questions about crime/anti-social behaviour in Waterville

Some residents in Waterville asked me to address issues related to some break-ins across the estate over the summer and concerns about anti-social behaviour in Waterville Park.

I’ve raised these issues with the Gardai through the Fingal Joint Policing Committee. You can see the responses attached.

I’m glad to see that the Gardai took quick action to address the particular spike in burglaries and that they will continue to monitor the situation.

If any residents have any further queries about this, please get in touch.