I am delighted to see that An Bord Pleanala has rejected the attempt by the developers of the Bracken Park estate on the Carpenterstown Road to turn a building which is supposed to be used for childcare into two five bedroom houses, and then sell them off. Both Fingal County Council and now An Bord Pleanala have rejected this attempt. The Carpenterstown area has an extremely young population – we should be providing more childcare facilities there, not less.

Under the law, when a large new estate is built, the developer is obliged to build a childcare facility as part of the planning permission. In the case of the Bracken Park estate, the developer built a childcare facility, but it has never opened. The developer has twice sought planning permission to turn the childcare facility building into two houses, which it could then sell off.

I had previously raised a concern about this practice in Fingal Council meetings, as it is a way for developers to avoid their obligations under the law and make a quick profit. It would also mean that those who are purchasing homes in new developments may face difficulties in obtaining childcare, which in turn would make it difficult for both parents be in paid employment, should they choose to do so.

Fingal County Council originally rejected the developers proposal, as they were worried that it would set a precedent that other developers would simply not open the childcare facilities they had built and later try and turn them into houses to sell. I hope this decision sends out a strong message to developers that they won’t be able to do this.

Following this decision, it is essential that the developer acts to find a childcare provider so that this facility can finally be opened. There’s huge demand for childcare in the area – parents deserve essential facilities like this, particularly when the estate was marketed on the basis that there would be childcare available.