Thursday, 21 August 2008

Ashleaf Redevelopment Decision - Council Set to Approve Plans?

It was with no little disappointment that I read South Dublin County Council's 'manager's orders' on the proposed redevelopment of the Ashleaf Shopping Centre - pictured here, by no means accurately. You may have noted my press release on this application which garnered a small bit of local press attention.

There were, in total, 50 objections made to the application from a variety of local residents, businesses, historical and residential groups and public representatives. My own substantial objection, available in full here, was based on a variety of factors around the height and scale of the development, the pressure on utilities, traffic and parking, and the lack of appropriate mix in the residential units promised.

In particular, the utter cynicism with which the developer tried to tie in families of sick children in Our Lady's Hospital - soon, according to government policy, to close - to the use of his proposed 'apart-hotel' showed up this development as callous from the start.

In making their decision on the application this week, the Council have chosen neither to reject nor approve it - the official decision is to "request additional information." This is, in effect, an approval of the plans provided a couple of conditions are met and the information the Council seeks on particular aspects of the development is provided. The decision is here - see pages 10-14 for the assessment of the application and 15-16 for the conditions attached and additional information requested.

It is common for Councils to make an "additional information" decision but given the fairly timid conditions and information requests attached, it seems that they are happy to go ahead with approving this application in the near future. Many will tell you an "additional information" decision points directly to an approval, but this is by no means the case in all circumstances - see my press release on the St Mel's/Glendoo development for an example of a rejection following an additional information request.

Talking to many local residents over the past few weeks, I have become more aware of the serious discomfort caused to local people during the initial building of the Ashleaf Centre and of the ongoing problems many continue to experience. I know how deeply disappointed many will be with an approval and I sincerely hope the project is not permitted to go ahead. I will be keeping in touch with local residents in the coming weeks and will keep all with an interest informed of the Council's decisions.