At the Council meeting on Thursday, we had an extensive debate about the refusal by Fingal County Council to put in place extra double yellow lines in College Grove beside Castleknock village. A significant number of residents from the estate turned up to hear the discussion.
There are certain estates that suffer from parking issues not directly related to the estate itself. Portergate in Clonsilla used to have severe parking issues due to Clonsilla train station. Roselawn Road continues to have similar issues, caused by Castleknock Station. And College Grove in Castleknock has a major parking problem due to the fact that it is linked to the large College Wood estate, where insufficient parking was provided by the original developer.
In these type of situations, I feel that the Council has to do more to assist residents. As such, I was disappointed by the refusal of Fingal County Council to place extra double yellow lines in College Grove. The Council’s argument is that double yellow lines are solely for safety and are not for traffic management. However, I think this one size fits all approach fails to recognise that certain places, like College Grove, suffer disproportionately badly from non-resident parking and should be given extra support.
The recent rejection of the Lidl planning application for the Flower-Shop site in Castleknock gives the opportunity to bring forward a new urban centre strategy (UCS) for the village. The current urban centre strategy, which would permit high rise development within the centre of the village, has been used as the basis for a range of inappropriate planning applications over the last number of years.
As a meeting of the Castleknock/Mulhuddart local area committee last September, the Council indicated that they were prepared to bring forward a new urban centre strategy for the village. This announcement was welcomed by myself, fellow councillors and local residents.
However, in response to question posed by me at a meeting of the Castleknock/Mulhuddart local area committee last week, the Council management appeared to indicate that the new urban centre strategy for Castleknock will form part of the Development Plan process, rather than being done beforehand. The problem with such an approach is that the new Development Plan will not be finally adopted until 2017. That means that there will be a minimum of 18 months more where developers can look for planning permission for high rise developments in Castleknock on the basis of the existing flawed urban centre strategy.
I will be bringing forward a motion to the local area committee calling for a new urban centre strategy to be prioritized for Castleknock village, before the wider Development Plan process. No one living in Castleknock feels that the existing proposals for high-rise buildings are acceptable and it is vital that this is changed as soon as possible.
I’m pleased that the Minister for Transport – Pascal Donohoe – has committed that any future proposed changes to level crossings in Dublin 15 would be preceded by engagement with local residents. This same commitment had been made by the former Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, during the June 2014 local elections. I’ve been seeking to have the new Minister confirm this commitment since he was appointed.
In May of last year, a freedom of information request I made to the National Transport Authority revealed that both the NTA and Fingal County Council had undertaken two studies examining the impact of closing level crossings in Dublin 15 along the Maynooth line and proposing alternative crossing points. The failed attempt to shut the level crossing at Porterstown followed on from these plans. At the time, the then Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, circulated a leaflet in which he stated that no further efforts to close level crossings on the Maynooth line would be made prior to the end of 2018. He further stated that, in future, “consultation with local residents will take place long before any plans are put on public display”.
Since Pascal Donohoe was appointed Transport Minister in July 2014, I have been corresponding with his Department to see will he make similar commitments (see letters below). I am pleased that he has now finally reaffirmed both that no further efforts will be made to close crossings prior to 2018, but more importantly, that residents will be consulted prior to any future proposals going on public display.
The attempt to close the Porterstown Road level crossing in late 2013 – early 2014, with minimal engagement with local residents, deeply angered the community in the Clonsilla area. It has generated concerns in communities such as Coolmine and Ashtown that a similar top-down approach will be adopted towards the level crossings in these areas. It is absolutely vital that agencies like the National Transport Authority operate in a transparent fashion with local residents and properly respond to all the side effects that would result from any future proposals to close level crossings.
Response – Donohoe – level crossing (Dec 14)
Response – Donohoe – Level Crossings (Oct 2014)
Response – Donohoe – Level Crossings (Sept 2014)