Below are my most recent updates on McHugh's from my December, November and September local newsletters.
December 09 Update...
I have been unrelenting in promoting our campaign to reclaim the derelict McHugh’s site for our local community. It is almost seven years now since the old shopping arcade was destroyed by fire and local people remain rightly furious over the lack of appropriate development at the site and the increasingly-bad eyesore left behind. The graffiti around the site has become worse in recent months and the site was a huge fire hazard over Hallowe’en, when I liaised with the Gardaí to ensure that the opening of the site would not lead to a potentially dangerous bonfire. Following my queries at Council level I have established that there are now plans by McHugh to scale down the current planning permission for the site, which was granted in April 2007 and will last until April 2012. My understanding is that the revised plans, which are still being drawn up, will include fewer apartments along with offices, a restaurant and a couple of retail units along with a mini-supermarket. While I would welcome any serious plan to provide decent services on the site, I will not support any unrealistic proposals or ones which are not likely to get built.
The good news is that, through my own motion for the County Development Plan which was agreed by the Council, any future plans for the site will only be permitted to include community facilities and appropriate commercial services for local residents – the scare stories promoted by those with questionable agendas as to what might go into the site should be nipped in the bud. Both myself and Pat Rabbitte TD will continue to promote what Labour believes is the best option – a Council-led Compulsory Purchase of the site, and subsequent community-led development – in the months ahead.
November '09 Update
Cllr Dermot Looney continues to lead the fight to restore the old McHugh’s site which should be providing an important neighbourhood centre for local people. The lack of progress from the developer and the ongoing dereliction continues to cause grave concern across Greenhills. Dermot has secured the community nature of the site in the long term with a Specific Local Objective now in place in the County Development Plan that the site can only be used for appropriate community and local services, and no other purposes.
Cllr Dermot Looney adds:
“In response to the pressure put on by our community, the Council Management finally placed a fine on McHugh of €60,000 a year under the Derelict Sites Act. However the owner has still not paid the levy and now the Council’s Law Department is pursuing the matter through the courts. Against the background of the government’s €54 Billion NAMA bailout of the banks and developers, the cost of acquiring our derelict neighbourhood centre site is modest indeed – and I will fight to ensure the money collected from McHugh is used for our community services.”
September '09 Update
6 years on, and the derelict former site of the McHugh’s Shopping Centre on St James’ Road continues to be the major issue for residents of Greenhills and Limekiln. After a campaign launched by Dermot Looney last year, the site was
eventually entered onto the Derelict Sites Register by the Council and the developer,
Sean McHugh, was fined for breaches of planning enforcement regulations. The Council are now pursuing the developer through the courts following his refusal to pay a levy issued for the dereliction.
“I have embarked on a number of measures in recent weeks to attempt to recover this site for the Greenhills community,” said Cllr Looney. “In the short term, I have made an enforcement complaint as to the use of the site for storing building material and vehicles. I have also sought to have the appropriate development of the site included as a ‘Specific Local Objective’ of the County’s Development Plan and have asked Council officials to prepare a report on a Compulsory Purchase Order or other mechanisms to take over the site. Winning won’t come easy in this campaign - but with the togetherness of local residents, we will succeed,” noted Cllr Looney.
You'll also find a number of posts on this blog related to McHugh's by going to http://thelooneyleft.blogspot.