Sunday, 14 September 2008

McHugh's Eyesore - Mass Petition Launched

As a local area representative and someone who has grown up and lived all my life in Greenhills, I know full well how great a community this is. We are rightly proud of our great local achievements and the wonderful work done by volunteers at all levels to create the community spirit which has defined our area for decades.

But that community spirit can’t thrive in an area without a neighbourhood centre. We cannot prosper when faced on a daily basis by neglect and dereliction. We deserve better than more than five years of shabby boards, gruesome fencing and weeds, and an eyesore which has come to define us.

The old McHugh’s shopping centre on St James’ Road was an important resource for local people to buy their messages, to see a pharmacist and to use the post office. It was destroyed by fire in 2003 and despite plenty of applications and negotiations, the site remains a derelict mess.

Let us be clear – the developer, now known as “Property International McHugh,” is at fault for this shambles. We have waited long enough for him to take action – more than five years, in fact. Will it be another five, or longer again, before local people are rid of this eyesore? How long will it be before our neighbourhood centre is restored, and with it the vital services that older people and families need?

Myself, Eamonn Walsh and the Labour Party have stood firm on this for years. Now it’s time for local people to take this campaign one step further. Below, you will read the facts of this debacle and you will be given a chance to sign the petition. Please go here to do so.


McHugh’s Eyesore:


Dermot Looney, Labour’s local area representative and the Greenhills candidate in next year’s local election, has launched a community campaign demanding appropriate action at the McHugh’s site. Here you can read the timeline of development on the site and sign the petition demanding action.


12th March 2003 – A planning application (SD03A/0143) is made to change the roof & signage on the McHugh’s Shopping Arcade. Just weeks later, the entire centre is gutted by fire.

20th June 2003 – A planning application (SD03A/0415) to demolish the remains of the centre is made, and approved by the Council.

15th August 2003 – McHugh’s apply (SD03A/0601) to construct a three storey building mixing retail and apartments, including a basement car park. This is first deemed invalid as there was inadequate notice of the planning application at the site. A duplicate application (SD03A/0659) for planning permission is then submitted. The development will include two storeys of apartments (8 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom). It is opposed by residents groups and Cllr Eamonn Walsh. Further information is requested by the Council, who then approve the application in April 2004 with 26 conditions attached.

2003-2006 – No action taken on the site at any stage. McHugh’s architects claim that “due to changes in the market place, this scheme was found to be financially unviable.” On 1/11/2005 the Council notes that it “may also consider other options .. which could include acquiring the site by Compulsory Purchase Order or the imposition of a levy.”

4th April 2006 – Council note that “it is proposed to commence the procedure to acquire the site by Compulsory Purchase Order under the Derelict Sires Act 1990,” at the Terenure Rathfarnham Area Committee (TRAC) meeting.

5th April 2006 – Another application (SD06A/0248) is made. It will also have three storeys, but this time there will be 10 one-bedroom apartments, 10 two-bedroom apartments and 1 three-bedroom apartment. The Council note that “the residential density of the proposed scheme is excessive” and demand a reduction in the number of apartments. McHugh’s do not bother to meet this demand and the application is deemed withdrawn on December 4th.

5th September 2006 – Cllr Eamonn Walsh asks the Council to finalise the CPO. The Council respond that “it is intended to initiate the procedure to acquire this site by Compulsory Purchase Order under the provision of the Derelict Sites Act, 1990. Site drawings are now being finalised and the Compulsory Purchase Order procedure will commence thereafter.”

30th January 2007 – Yet another application (SD07A/0062) is made. It has three storeys with retail units on the ground floor, but with the Council’s restrictions it has 15 apartments on the top two floors (12 two-bedroom units and 3 one-bedroom units). It is granted in April. The Council requests more than €250,000 to be furnished for Council infrastructure and facilities.

6th February 2007 – The Council finally confirm the site as ‘derelict’ at a TRAC meeting.

2nd October 2007 – Council note that “the developer of the land in question has indicated that he proposes to commence development in late October/early November 2007.”

6th November 2007 – Cllr Eamonn Walsh tells the Council that “In view of the failure of the developer of the derelict shopping centre site to proceed with the development as agreed last May that the C.P.O. be re-introduced and to state that local residents are sick and tired of the false promises as they look onto a most offensive site in the heart of its community.” The Council take no action.

11th January 2008 - a small commencement fee is paid with commencement of work due to start on 28th January 2008 and a proposed end date of 30/1/2009.

6th May 2008 – Cllr Eamonn Walsh tells the Council that “this site has devalued the properties in the general area and has devalued the quality of life of the whole community and to be arranged as soon as possible.” The Council replies, saying that because a skip was removed, a gate was replaced and walls and fences were repaired, “the site is no longer considered derelict.”

12th June 2008 – Dermot Looney complains to Council that the use of the site as a storage ground for Dublin Bus is in breach of the planning permission. The Council reject the complaint.

12th September 2008 – Despite claims to the contrary, bus stops and other material remains stored at the site. No development work has started – 5 years on.