New City Development Plan - the highs & lows......
Following a long process lasting almost 2 years, Dublin City Council has produced a new Development Plan for the City. While the new plan is still driven by the City Managers attempt to appease vested interests over the wishes of Dublin citizens, none the less, we have gained some valuable victories.
I was pleased to have been part of a group of over 24 Residents & Community groups from the Central Dublin area which came together to develop a policy which would protect our communities in relation to height, density, building quality and protection of our green spaces. I have also worked with many other residents groups from across the city. During the process, of all the City Councillors, I submitted the largest number of amendments to the Plan. This is because I believe that a proper and sustainable new Development Plan would help create a people friendly City and not another continuation of the urban mess that has blighted many communities.
The outstanding success I have had is the elimination of the option to build apartments/houses on the green spaces in Institutional lands. Vast swathes of our remaining green spaces and sports fields would have been open to development and lost to our communities. Despite the City Manager requesting no less than 3 separate votes on this issue at three separate meetings and extensive lobbying by vested interests and religious orders, my motion was successfully passed to protect these lands. On the night of the vote, the gallery was packed with paid lobbyists and institutional land management but we were still able to persuade enough councillors to respect the wishes of the local residents.
Another successful motion we had passed was the reduction in the proposed residential densities. I proposed that the density guidelines should be in line with the Department of Environment guidelines and despite the City Manager objecting and seeking higher densities, a majority of Councillors supported this proposal. Other successful motion I had passed included the provision whereby developers must produce proper and meaningful documentation where they intend to develop higher buildings in residential areas. We also had the increased building heights around public transport sites reduced from a radius of 1Km to a radius of 500 Metres.
On a social responsibility level, I succeeded in having my motion to prevent the unrestricted opening of new off-licences passed. Despite intensive lobbying from some multi national retailers and other vested interests, I succeeded in getting new restrictions included in the new Development Plan.
I want to commend all the Residents and Community groups who played a role in drawing up this new plan and while we did not achieve all our goals, we certainly made the City Council take note of our concerns. As one long established councillor said "this has been the most intense Development Plan process ever".
Unfortunately, due to a collaboration between Labour and Fine Gael, local residents will have to deal with issues such as increased building heights in the coming years but that’s a battle we are ready to fight.