Monthly Archive for May, 2014

My Message for Castleknock & Blanchardstown Voters This Friday

Please take a moment to watch my message for voters in this Friday’s Local Elections. Thank You.

Freedom of Information request on Coolmine level crossing

Map of possible replacement of Coolmine level crossing, linking St Mochta's and Riverwood

Throughout this local election campaign, the potential closure of level crossings across Dublin 15 has been a significant concern for people.

In order to find out exactly what is planned for the area, I put in a freedom of information request to the National Transport Authority looking for any documents relating to the closure of the Coolmine level crossing. The information that has been released to me is significant, as it reveals Irish Rail’s long terms plans for the level crossings in the area (Freedom of Information Act does not currently apply to Irish Rail, but I have the relevant information now anyway!).

The two reports obtained were entitled ‘Maynooth Rail Line Upgrade – Traffic Implications Report’ carried out for Fingal County Council in 2012 and ‘Maynooth Line Urban Level Crossings – NTA Briefing Document’ carried out for Irish Rail in late 2011.

The Traffic Implication report sets out a number of scenarios regarding increased traffic blockages in Dublin 15 if the level crossings are not addressed in the medium term. It also outlines out a range of options where various combinations of the existing level crossing are shut down and some are replaced by new bridging points.

The Briefing Document from the NTA shows that specific options have been considered for each of the level crossings in the area. It includes the proposals to close the Porterstown Road crossing, which were recently delayed by Fingal County Council. It also includes drawings for a new bridge across the Royal Canal and railway line between the St. Mochtas estate and Luttrell Park/Riverwood estates which would replace the current Coolmine level crossing. A pedestrian bridge would also be build over the existing level crossing.

Options for replacing Coolmine level crossing

The information was released to me in hard copy, but I am happy to make them available to anyone who wishes to inspect them.

The recent attempts by Irish Rail to close the Porterstown level crossing have been completely mishandled. Instead of releasing all the relevant information and having a wider discussion about traffic in the Dublin 15 area, Irish Rail tried to get Fingal County Council to slip the closure through unnoticed. I am making this information available as I believe that the people of Dublin 15 need to know what are the options available to them regarding traffic and transport in the area. This debate is vital for the long term sustainability of our community, and it should be held out in the option, not just within the Fingal Council chamber.

Daily problems faced by parents dropping their children to school need to be tackled by overall strategy

Pathway opposite St Mochta's NS. Used by hundreds of children everyday, yet bushes have been allowed to grow and obscure almost half the pathway.

An issue that I’ve worked on over the last few years is to have the Fingal County Development Plan amended to include a Safe Routes to School Strategy. This will create a Safe Routes to School committee for each school, bringing together parents, teachers, the Gardai and the Council. This will examine any traffic or other dangers to children and parents as they go to and from school.

Many parents would like to see their kids walk or cycle to school, but they feel there are too many obstacles in the way of this. A good example is the footpath along the Porterstown Road opposite St Mochtas NS. This footpath is used daily by hundreds of parents and children as they make their way to the school. However, it is severely over grown and makes access to the school, particularly for parents with buggies, very difficult.

This was drawn to my attention by the lollipop lady servicing the crossing and a number of parents. They stated that they have made repeated calls for the hedge to be properly cut back, rather than just a mild trimming. If a Safe Routes Committee was in place for St. Mochta’s, this issue could have been reported directly to the Council and been dealt with much more quickly.

Traffic management is one of the basic functions of the Council. It could do much more to ensure a free flow of traffic during the ‘school run’ period, and part of this is making it safer for parents to leave their cars behind. This will be a key priority for me if I’m elected.

Planning permissions on Phoenix Park Racecourse site

While canvassing in Castleknock for the local elections, a number of people raised queries regarding the current status of new and existing planning permission and development on the Phoenix Park Racecourse site. I have summarised the planning permission currently applicable below.

F02A/1255/E1 is the major one that covers all the remaining land. This permission was extended in 2012 to last up to 2018.  It grants permission for 83 four-bedroom houses and 239 three-bedroom houses; two storeys high along the Deerpark and Chesterfield boundaries and three storeys high elsewhere. – 35 three-bedroom apartments, 1704 two-bedroom apartments and 249 one-bedroom apartments in blocks three to five storeys high.

F08A/1292 is an amendment of this original permission. It was granted in Jan 2010 and gives permission for 388 no. residential units, a 168 bedroom hotel, 23 no. retail/ commercial units, 20no. own door offices, a medical centre, a crèche, 3 no. restaurant/ bars.

The more recent FW13A/0052, which covers much of the old Phoenix Park Garden Centre part of the site, has permission for 129 two and three story houses exiting onto the Castleknock Road and a further 17 houses exiting onto the N3. This was granted in August 2013.

I know that there is a concern that there may be an attempt to have all future developments on the site exit onto the Castleknock Road. I think it is significant that at least the most recent planning permission acknowledges that some houses will not exit through the Castleknock Road, thought we will need to keep watch in case the developers try and amend this permission at a later stage.