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Address: governmental policy are particularly relevant to

Address: Belcamp, Malahide, Dublin 17
Applicant: Gannon Properties
Local Authority: Finglas County Council
Planning Register Reference Number: F15A/0609
An Bord Pleanála Reference
Number: PL 06F.248052

 

Figure 1 Site Location |
Source: GeoHive

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                                      Figure 2 Close-Up of Site
Outline | Source: MyPlan.ie

 

Figure 3 Timeline of Events

Planning Policy Context  

Government Guidelines

The following guidelines
in governmental policy are particularly relevant to this development:

·       Architectural
Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities, DAHG, 2011.

·       Guidelines
on Information to be Contained in an EIS, EPA, 2002. 06F.248052 Inspector’s
Report Page 24 of 76

·       Design
Standards for New Apartments – Guidelines for Planning Authorities (DECLG,
2015).

·       Sustainable
Residential Developments in Urban Areas (DEHLG, 2009).

Development Plan Fingal
County Development Plan 2017-2023

According to Fingal’s
County Development Plan 2017-2023, the site on which the appealed development
is located is primarily zoned Residential Area. The objective of the zoning is
to ‘provide for new residential communities, subject to the provision of the
necessary social and physical infrastructure’. A strip of land along the south
of the site, adjacent to the Mayne River, is zoned as OS, Open Space, the
objective of which is to ‘Preserve and provide for open space and recreational
amenities’.

The plan  describes that area in which the appeal site
lies, lying on the southern boundary of Fingal at Balgriffin and Belcamp, as
having become part of a growing population spreading from Baldoyle in the east
to the yet undeveloped area around Belcamp House to the west. Specific
objections for the Balgriffin/Belcamp area are set out in Chapter 4 of the Plan
(page 119-120). In respect of the appeal site the following objectives apply:

• Obj. 3 – Seeks to
facilitate the protection of Belcamp House and ensure that new development
respects the historic character and setting, including both its natural and
built heritage and biodiversity.

• Obj. 5 – States that the
planning authority will consider a limited quantum of development on the
Belcamp LAP lands to facilitate the rehabilitation and preservation of Belcamp
House prior to the adoption of the LAP. Requires a design brief, to include the
quantum and location of any such development, which shall not prejudice any
future road requirements, to be agreed with the planning authority before a
planning application is lodged.

• Obj. 6 – States that a
Local Area Plan will be prepared for the lands at Belcamp to provide a
sustainable mixed use urban district including residential, community and
recreational facilities subject to the delivery of the necessary infrastructure
and rehabilitation and restoration of Belcamp House.

Local Area Plan

The appeal site forms part
of a wider area which is subject to a local area plan and which includes two
road proposals, one running east west to the north of the appeal site, and one
running north south to the west of the site. The site is also within the
airport zone (see below).

Dublin City Development
Plan 2016-2022

Land to the south of the
appeal site (and south of the River Mayne) falls within the administrative area
of the Dublin City Development Plan. It falls within the ‘North Fringe’
strategic development and regeneration area. The Clongriffin-Belmayne Local
Area Plan 2012-2018 sets out a strategy for development in the area. 5.3.

Natural Heritage Designations

There are no designated natural
heritage sites situation within or on adjacent lands to the appeal site.
However, the River Mayne discharges into Baldoyle Bay which is designated as an
SAC and an SPA (Baldoyle Bay SAC, site code 0199 and Baldoyle Bay SPA, site
code 4016).

Airport Noise Zone

The developer should be cognisant of Dublin
Airport Authority’s intentions to build a new runway not far from the proposed
site.

Pre-Planning Phase

Five meetings took place between the 28th
November 2014 and the 22nd October 2015 with council departments
such as roads, parks, services, conservation and planning. There are no minutes
publicly available for these meetings, however the issues that were raised by
the Planning Authority were laid out in the Planner’s Report. Some of the
issues included:

·       Concern over the
viability of a local centre/retail outlet.

·       The proposed
layout of the development was of concern due to the lack of character
especially as the distinct landscaping setting of Belcamp Hall should be
preserved as much as possible.

·       Connectivity
between the house and Washing Monument should be a priority.

·       Development
should be limited to 200 units.

Planning Application

In brief, Gannon Properties’ proposed development comprises of two main
elements:

1.      
The
refurbishment and change of use of Belcamp Hall which is a Protected Structure
(RPS No. 463).

2.     
The
erection of houses, apartments and retail outlets.

Figure 4 Site Layout | Source: Fingal
CoCo Website

The works involve the
refurbishment of Belcamp Hall and its later extension to provide 34 apartments
(consisting of 15 no. 1-bed, 13 no. 2-bed, 5 no. 3-bed and 1 no. 4-bed), and comprise the general repair and
conservation of the existing buildings, and other works as is necessary to adapt the buildings to their new uses.

The works to the Georgian House
involve the general repair and conservation of the historic building
fabric, upgrading the floors and installation of a new pitched roof. The works
to the existing extensions to the south involve the complete refurbishment
including installing new pitched roofs with dormer windows and the installation
of balconies. An additional floor will be inserted into the southern block to
provide additional accommodation at roof level.

The works to the chapel involve
the repair, conservation and reinstatement of the building fabric and its
fittings and works to adapt it to its new use. The three-storey building to the
north will be extended and converted to residential use on the first-floor
level, restaurant use on the ground floor and part basement level and a
childcare facility at basement level. Decorative metal railings will be
reinstated. Disabled access facilities will be provided to the chapel to meet
accessibility requirements. New mechanical, electrical and waste services will
be installed throughout. The works will also include external works, hard and
soft landscaping, underground services, repairs to the external entrance stone
bridge and other external stone paved features.

The existing stone pillars and gates at the Malahide Road entrance to be
relocated to a position within the development.

The new works comprise: a
courtyard of 27 dwellings (6 no. three storey 3-bed houses and one 3 storey
block containing 8 1-bed, 1 2-bed & 1 3-bed apartments, 5 2-bed & 1
3-bed duplex live/work units, and 5 3-bed duplex units) and 1 corner retail
unit (51m²); and one 3-4 storey block of 47 apartments (12 1-bed, 32 2-bed
& 3 3-bed); one 3 storey block of 16 apartments (4 1-bed, & 12 2-bed)
over 8 retail units (621.5m² gross area); and 139 terraced, semi-detached and
detached 2 storey houses (3 2-bed, 86 3-bed and 50 4-bed) on lands between
Belcamp Hall and Malahide Road. The development will include associated roads
and infrastructure including a new east-west main road; services networks; 524
no. car parking spaces (incl. 273 on-curtilage); 118 no. bicycle spaces; bin
stores; landscaping works including regeneration of existing woodland and
provision of foot paths along Mayne River valley east and south of Belcamp Hall
and protection and management of walled garden and woodland west of Belcamp
Hall; and all associated ancillary and site works; all on a site of c.15.3ha,
on lands bounded by the Malahide Road to the east, Mayne River to the south and
development lands to the west and north, with access from the Malahide Road.

The applicant, Gannon Properties, sought planning permission for this
development on 23rd December 2015 at the site located at Belcamp,
Malahide, Dublin 17. Four third party letters of objection were received during
the statutory time period which was allocated. They were received by David
Doyle (nearby resident), Thomas P. Broughan TD (local politician), Crosswaithe
Developments Ltd. (owners of nearby land), and Brenda and Joe Doyle (nearby
residents). Some of the reasons for objection were:

·      
The
Local Area Plan for the lands was not complete at the time and therefore
granting permission for the development would be inappropriate and premature.

·      
The
applicant should be required to allocate more than 10% of the proposed housing
stock as social and affordable housing given the current climate.

·      
Two
archaeological subsurface monuments were identified on the site and will be
directly affected by the development.

·      
Clarification
is required as per the exact boundary around the site.

·      
The
green corridor should not form part of the open space provision.

·      
A
well-established right of access was omitted from the plans, as were two septic
tanks.

Further Information

A request for further
information was made by Fingal County Council on the 24th February
2016 as they felt the application didn’t include adequate information on which
to make an informed decision. On 23rd November 2016, Fingal County
Council received the following documents from Gannon Properties’ agents
prepared by many actors:

·       Original
newspaper notice which was publish in the Irish Independent on 10th
November 2016.

·       Copy
of the site notice which was erected on 18th November 2016.

·       Environmental
Impact Statement which was prepared by Downey Planning.

·       Archaeological
Impact Report completed by Courtney Deery Heritage Consultancy.

·       Conservation
Report prepared by Deaton Lysaght Conservation Architects.

·       Updated
Urban Design Report drawn up Conroy Crowe Kelly Architects.

·       Architect’s
Drawings and Schedules by Conroy Crowe Kelly Architects.

·       Landscape
Architect’s Drawings, Reports and Schedules by The Big Space.

·       Screening
Report for Appropriate Assessment carried out by Openfield Ecological Services.

·       Arboricultural
Review prepared by The Tree File.

·       Engineer’s
Drawings, Reports and Schedules by Waterman Moylon.

Fingal County Council also
asked for a number of alterations to the plan to be made as well as
clarifications. 34 requests were made in total.

Following this request for
further information, the applicant made a request for a time extension. Under
Article 33 (3) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2006 and approved by
the Chief Executive, an additional three months was granted to the applicant to
gather all necessary information.

Chief Executive’s Decision

Following the receipt of further information
and it being deemed adequate and satisfactory to make a decision, the Chief
Executive granted permission to the proposed development subject to 54
conditions on 27th January 2018.

The Appeal

There was
a Third-Party appeal lodged in the form of written evidence by two appellants
namely Brenda and Joe Doyle, and the Irish Georgian
Society in respect of Fingal County Council’s decision to grant permission.

Brenda
and Joe Doyle’s concerns are summarised below:

·       The Environmental Impact Statement does not outline the
potential impact of the proposed development on architectural heritage, nor
does it state the impact that the refurbishments and alterations will have on
the protected structures on site.

·       The application should not be granted permission until
the adoption of a Local Area Plan.

·       There is a risk of flooding on their land as a
consequence of the proposed development.

·       Concern over encroachment of the privacy of their home
and garden if proposed access to the nearby woodlands is granted.

·       They felt that the design and layout of the estate is
quite poor and lacks character.

·       The conditions that the development would be subjected
to should be made public before approval is granted.

The Irish
Georgian Society’s concerns are summarised below:

·       Similar to Brenda and Joe Doyle, the Society felt the
EIS was inadequate.

·       They felt there was a piecemeal approach to the design
and layout of the development lacking any spatial coherency. Some parcels of
land close to the protected structure will require subsequent planning applications
which raises concerns of lack of an overall masterplan.

·       Belcamp is the only landscape in Ireland with any
authentic, verifiable connection to the American Revolution. Therefore it is
critical that any development on this site is appropriate and informed by a
comprehensive assessment of the historic landscape and setting which had not
yet been done. An inappropriate development would destroy and constitute a
profound loss of shared cultural heritage.

·       The planning authority’s decision is contrary to the
provisions of the Aarhus Convention as they have reached a decision on the
original design of the landscape at Belcamp based on either an assumption or
information which was not included in the planning application.

Responses
to the Appeal
The applicant included the following in his response
to the above appellants on the 23rd March 2017:

·       A detailed response to each of the individual matters
raised by the appellants.

·       An addendum Environmental Impact Statement which honed
in on the impact the development would have on the heritage, architecture and
historic landscape of Belcamp.

·       Additional architectural drawings and graphics of the
proposed development, particularly for The Irish Georgian Society

The planning authority
felt, in brief, that all concerns raised by the appellants have been sufficiently
dealt with.

Oral hearing (if any)

There was no oral hearing held
during this particular case.

Board’s Decision

An
Bord Pleanála made the decision to grant permission to Gannon
Properties for their proposed development on the 28th June 2017
subject to 34 conditions. It made the decision having regard to the following
things (but not limited to):

·       Sufficiency of the EIS

·       Diversity of units

·       Ecological impact

·       Design of house types

·       Conditions of the permission

·       Boundary treatment

·       Access/transportation issues

·       Open space provision

·       Septic tanks

·       Flooding

·       Masterplan for Belcamp

·       Impact of the Woodland Path

The board
reached their decision with the following factors in mind:

·       Zoning
of the appeal site for residential development in the Fingal County Development
Plan 2017 to 2023.

·      
 Specific objective Balgriffin/Belcamp 5, of
the County Development Plan 2017 – 2023, which allows for a quantum of
development on the Belcamp LAP lands to facilitate the rehabilitation and
preservation of Belcamp House prior to the adoption of the LAP.

·      
The vulnerability of the
Protected Structures on the appeal site.

·        The detailed design of the development.

Reflection

Dynamics of actors and participants in playing their role:

There were a variety of
actors and participants who were involved during each step of the process. They
seemed to all interact respectfully with one another, e.g. the Board took the
observations/objections made by the appellants into consideration.

Openness and transparency:

On the site notice, it
stated that to inspect the application in relation to the lands situated to the
west of the N2, members of the public would have to go to an office on Grove
Road, Blanchardstown, Fingal, Dublin 15. To view the application in relation to
the rest of the lands, members of the public would have to go to a different
office at Fingal County Hall, Main St., Swords, Fingal, Co. Dublin. This is a
major inconvenience for anyone wishing to inspect the planning application for
this development and is an unnecessary obstacle for public participation.

Although the majority of
files are now available online on the Fingal County Council website, they are
not well-labelled or easy to navigate for a member of the public who may not be
acquainted with the system. Breda Doyle also noted in her first observation
letter to the council that certain documents such as the Ecological

Quality of the decision-making:

Fingal County Council’s and
the Boards reports seemed very thorough and diligently prepared. Every element
of the proposal was considered at length with reference to objectives from
development plans and various legislation. Although granting permission for a
development with 34 conditions – some of which very important concerning the
preservation of a protected structure – attached seems nonsensical with no guarantee
all conditions will be respected.

 

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