Balbriggan Residents join forces to challenge Fingal County Council on the Castlelands Masterplan

November 11, 2019 0

On Monday 4th November, sixteen committee members from eight Balbriggan Residents’ Associations held a meeting in the Balrothery Inn to discuss concerns about Fingal County Council’s (FCC) Castlelands Masterplan (CMP). The group formed a coalition of Balbriggan Residents’ Associations (CoBRA) to represent these concerns to FCC and to seek urgent political representation on the issue. CoBRA represents members from Ardgillen Heights, Bath Road, Castlelands Park, Chapelgate, Fancourt Heights, Hampton Cove, Pinewood and The Chantries. Recruitment to CoBRA of further Residents’ and Tenants’ Associations from Balbriggan and its districts is now underway.

castlelands_masterplanThe meeting was attended by Balbriggan Area Councillors Gráinne Maguire (Ind), Tony Murphy (Ind), Joe O’Brien (GP) and Tom O’Leary (FG), and Swords Councillor Duncan Smith (Lab). TDs Brendan Ryan (Lab), Louise O’Reilly (SF) and Darragh O’Brien (FF) also attended. Apologies were received from Councillor Seána O’Rodaigh (Lab) and TD Alan Farrell (FG).

CoBRA convened the meeting for the following reasons:

  1. FCC briefed Councillors on October 24th that it intends to seek ratification of the CMP in January 2020. The Draft Masterplan proposed between 800-1000 units with sectoral densities ranging up to 83 units/hectare and heights up to 6 Storeys. The 24th October briefing had 850 units with heights reducted to four and a half storeys. FCC cites the Land Development Agency’s (LDA) goal that the housing units will be 10% Social Housing, 30% affordable housing and 60% private housing
  2. CoBRA’s thousands of members regard FCC’s proposed adjustments to the CMP as token, minimal, unsatisfactory, dismissive of, and disrespectful to community concerns as expressed through the unprecedented 1300+ submissions to the public consultation phase.
  3. FCC, notwithstanding its claimed adherence to the CMP Public Consultation Phase, continues to refuse to answer serious legitimate questions of public interest about:
    1. the CMP ignoring government’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES), a statutory document produced under powers enabled by S.I. No.573 of 2014
    2. the CMP contravening specific RSES recommendations made for Balbriggan
    3. the CMP reneging on FCC’s “solemn commitments” to the Our Balbriggan Project
    4. FCC ignoring its own designation (Fingal Development Plan, Green Infrastructure Map1) of the miles of coast beside the site as a “Highly Sensitive Landscape”,  and
    5. impacts on population, schools, medical services, public transport, traffic et al.
  4. CoBRA’s members majorly object to elements of the CMP and to FCC’s clear intention to try to rush the CMP through ratification despite all of the legitimate concerns expressed.

Each of the Councillors and TD’s addressed the meeting, took questions and offered their advice. They welcomed CoBRA’s very clear statement that its members are not objecting to housing per se, and accepted that the stated serious concerns about aspects of the CMP, and short-comings to date in FCCs engagement with the Balbriggan community are fully justified. Each offered their full support in making formal representations on these matters to FCC and to the Minister for Housing. Councillor Tom O’Leary (FG) returned comments to CoBRA since the meeting on 4th Nov. that this Press Release from CoBRA “is a statement from the (CoBRA) committee”.

The Councillors undertook to continue putting formal questions and motions to FCC seeking adjustments to the CMP ahead of any ratification vote.  The TDs undertook to act together to ask Parliamentary Questions in relation to the RSES, its legislation, and due process, and also to write to the Minister to ensure that he is informed as to the legitimate concerns of the Balbriggan community and to ask him to discuss with FCC the RSES issue and the Council’s legal obligation to review its development plans for RSES alignment – ahead of a ratification vote on the CMP.

CoBRA understands that the LDA has now started to refer to and name the Castlelands site as “Hampton” and CoBRA does not know the reasons for this change of name.  CoBRA will continue to refer to the site as Castlelands/Hampton to avoid any confusion about the identity of the site.

Before closing the meeting CoBRA took several other decisions on actions to be taken now and has also asked the Councillors to ask FCC’s Planning & Strategic Infrastructure Department to facilitate a meeting with them and the five Balbriggan Area Councillors as soon as possible.

Committee members of Residents’ and Tenants’ Associations who wish to consider joining CoBRA and residents of Balbriggan and its districts who wish to register their support for appropriate substantive adjustments to the Castlelands Masterplan that will address the many concerns of the Balbriggan community and that require FCC to abide by the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy and its governing legislation can contact CoBRA by email to Cobra.Balbriggan@gmail.com.

CoBRA : Coalition of Balbriggan Residents’ Associations:

  • Formed by registered Balbriggan Residents’ and Tenants’ Associations to enable community collaboration on issues impacting our town and its people e.g. planning, development, infrastructure, services and amenities;
  • Open for membership to all registered Residents’ and Tenants’ Associations in Balbriggan and its districts.

Read previous stories about the Castlelands Masterplan here and remember to join us on facebook so you never miss an update.