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[00:00:01]

That pot Kenny show on Newstalk. Local campaigners in Clontarf and Rajini in Dublin were left devastated once again after it was announced that on board, Penola has made a decision to grant planning permission for more than 650 homes on playing pitches beside St Ann's Park in Rajini in North Dublin. Now, this will be the second time on board. Penola will have given the go ahead to the plans on the line. Green Party Councillor for country Donna Cooney.

[00:00:31]

Donna, good morning. Good morning, Pat.

[00:00:34]

Now, this is a very is a desperate moment. No, this is a very long saga. And it came about when the religious order decided that they had no further use for a particular fields and sold them off privately.

[00:00:52]

Yes. And that's where it all started. And I suppose even if it's known in advance of that, we would have looked for these for the local authority to buy these fields, for these fields to be kept in the public domain because they'd been used by the whole community and by three sports clubs, at least by the rugby club, the AGIA Club and their football club, and for mainly for for a junior level girls and boys for generations. And there've been 50 years really in youth, if not more so.

[00:01:29]

And generations have been playing on those fields. And it was difficult enough to get a field even and, you know, for for a weekend matches. And, you know, four home games were sometimes even had to be played away because there wasn't the availability of enough benches.

[00:01:45]

Yeah.

[00:01:46]

Now, the planning history here is very interesting because on board overruled the city council on both occasions, actually, but then they withdrew, if you like, and accepted that they were wrong.

[00:02:00]

And then another application was put in and effectively everything has doubled since the original applications. The planning permission history is very chequered. But finally, you have an inspector's report which looks at over 600 objections. Now, these objections come from transport infrastructure, Ireland residents associations, the gay clubs, Clontarf Football Club, Ascoli Connel, literally 600 of all sorts of objections heard.

[00:02:32]

The inspector at the inspector looks at all of this and the inspector is on board panel, eyes and ears on the ground, although God knows they've had enough eyes and ears such as the long planning saga here. And the inspector on this occasion says it's OK, this is fine. It's consistent with the planning acts and rebuilding Ireland and all the rest of it and gives it the go ahead. You were shocked, very shocked. I mean, it's they've admitted to the fact that there wasn't an appropriate assessment when it was under the judicial review, so they were to go away and making a decision.

[00:03:11]

I can't see what has changed in the intervening time and that they could take claims in some of the wording, really, that the inspector uses in relation to the fact that there's no scientific evidence. And, yes, the scientific evidence has been produced to say how it is a significant and, you know, habitats for Brent geese. And and it goes on to mention some mitigation and the fact that they will be admits that they'll be displaced, but says, well, that's fine because they'll find somewhere else to go.

[00:03:48]

And I just don't think that's really good enough.

[00:03:51]

And let's explain about the Brent geese, the Brent geese. They actually graze a bit like cattle.

[00:03:57]

They do fly in and they they find flat fields like, for example, playing fields, because I see geese down in Kielburger Park Local to me, and the grass is short and they can do what they need to do to feed themselves. However, if the grass is long, they can't do that. So they up and they have to find another flat piece of ground.

[00:04:16]

How has the pitch been the pitches?

[00:04:18]

Have they been maintained at a low level so that the branches can actually graze or have they been allowed to grow? So it's impossible for the Bradtke.

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Some people might say, where are these branches you're all talking about?

[00:04:30]

Yeah, well that's the thing. They've been allowed to deteriorate, which in itself is, you know, as you should be maintaining a habitat. I mean, if you were a farmer and you were damaging your habitat, you'd be told, you know, to to, you know, and to do something about it. And, yes, a private developer seems to be able to own land and to let us, you know, go into something that is seen as such a significant habitat.

[00:04:59]

In fact, that was a very reasoned the strongest reason given by the Dublin City Council, as well as to recommend as to why it should not be built upon Adam and Birdwatch Ireland, all the experts. And, yes, it's left to, you know, to actually economically benefit.

[00:05:19]

Years ago, years ago, when a developer and the bad old days used to want to knock down a few Georgian houses as part of the heritage of the the city in Dublin, I'm sure in other cities as well, where there was a Georgian heritage, what they would do is allow the roof to go into disrepair and then the rain would come and the place basically the thing would deteriorate to the point that there was no other option but to knock it down.

[00:05:46]

It was a fairly standard technique of developers back in the bad old days, back in the 60s and so on.

[00:05:54]

So you have to, you know, keep an eye on things, because if something is allowed to deteriorate, an objection that may apply, such as the built heritage of ER Georgiana and so on, it just can't apply anymore when something is beyond saving.

[00:06:10]

So yeah, and it's the same with this. Some of this cannot, it cannot be built heritage. We need to protect our built heritage. We also need to protect, protect our, you know, our natural heritage and our biodiversity. I mean, some of the trees on this site is concerned about the loss of trees and they've been told to put a bond in. But like, what, 150000, if, you know, can we trust that those trees will be protected?

[00:06:38]

But they're still these trees have a very historical trees and genetic link to the trees, the home oaks that are in the Phoenix Park.

[00:06:49]

Yeah, and besides all that, you see 150 grand in the context of replacement trees, you know, is very little because you'd have to put in the mature trees.

[00:06:59]

I know someone who had tributaries along an avenue er recently and it cost 100 grand to put trees just along a short avenue to replace trees that were damaged by whatever and had to come out. So it's an expensive thing. So 150 grand in the context of a huge development is not a massive amount of money as a guarantee to protect trees. But I'm looking at I went through the inspectors report, which is very interesting.

[00:07:24]

And in fairness, I mean, although they have to do it and they list or the inspector singular, as she mentions, three 657 objections and summarizes the objections and I read them.

[00:07:37]

And so people get a sense of what people are proposing to the development doesn't meet the criteria of strategic housing development. That's under the principle of development. And it goes on onto that. It's a contravention of Z, Z, zoning, height, design and density of the proposal. Sass of out of character with the receiving environment and particularly that of sentence parking. It goes on to talk about the city council's hate strategy, and it's not consistent with that appropriate assessment and impact on Shorebirds, Bull Island and other as initiatives like that, UNESCO Biosphere Buffer Zone and biodiversity traffic and transport at peak times, the local road and rail network already highly congested, and this development would exacerbate it further.

[00:08:27]

And it talks about cars everywhere and overcrowding, flooding, waste water and river impact on St Ann's Park, impact on social infrastructures. And, um, let's see what else. So many. I mean, this is just a catalogue of reasons why this shouldn't be built. Impact on surrounding area and residential amenities, cultural heritage and so on. But in total, as I say, over 650 objections, all of which were overruled by the inspector. And, of course, of board Glenella.

[00:08:57]

They have a history in recent times of actually ruling against their inspectors when they want to give a permission. But in this case, they didn't have that decision to make because the inspector in this case went along.

[00:09:08]

I mean, the inspectorate sort of admits that it's a contravention of the development plan in relation to the heighth with the nine stories and then goes on to say, what, eight stories can be laid if it's within 500 metres of a public transport? I mean, that would have to be by the crow flies. I don't know how you'd get to station from that within 500 kilometres. So you'd wonder, do they actually paint how they actually work that out on the map?

[00:09:34]

Because there's no there's no. But anyway, related to that, that's eight stories. And yes. And then they say, what, nine stories are laid? Whereas you have then there's this case where these are actually contravening the development plan and that's seen as OK, because it's providing housing. And yet if you look at the review of the strategic housing, you've actually got an even like to sort of 50 per cent of the ones that have got it successful, have got planning permission, have not even had building commencement orders yet.

[00:10:07]

So how, you know, is this speeding up the provision of housing and is it housing that is the right sustainable housing and in the right locations? Do you need to build on a greenfield site? Well, we have plenty of brownfield sites and industrial lands. And, you know, that's where rezoning for housing, which are also basically public transport and and, you know, without the loss of of amenity, because the more high density we have, the more we need this amenity.

[00:10:35]

And because, you know, if people don't have the private garden space they need and they need to have public parks and they need to have access to planning this tax from Schneid, she says, since when have gas become more important than homes for humans?

[00:10:51]

Yeah, well, this isn't an either or. We have those other lands that you can build these on. And and, you know, it's like, you know, and the fact is that banks are protected species and thus we don't need to we need to protect our biodiversity. And I don't think it's an argument against people and Brandis and I think we can have both.

[00:11:16]

But P.J. says more than pretty happily with the branches and BJA has been on says there are more than 40 pitches adjacent to the planned development of the geese can graze on those.

[00:11:28]

And there are no more than 40 pitches adjacent. I don't know where he's getting those from, but there are and this is where the guys had been grazing and this was the scientific evidence is there that it's one of the most significant in situ feeding areas in open. And I mean, there's other species as well as the banks, the banks, because of their numbers and their sheer numbers. And we're seen as so significant. But and there's Kolu as well.

[00:12:01]

There's also bats and, you know, these effect on bats. And there has been very little mention of us. And besides, you know, putting up a few bat boxes and looking at the type of lighting. But what at the moment is a dark area with no light pollution and, you know, becomes an area of total light pollution.

[00:12:22]

And even the design of the people listening to this, people listen to this and say, look, you're looking for bats, you're looking for wildlife, you're looking for an excuse to stop housing being built and not you know, I mean, I think people would say it's more important to get housing done.

[00:12:41]

The issue is not really, you know, the numbers of houses we need because we heard the other day we need 36000 residences a year. So we we need to build.

[00:12:51]

The question is always about whether or not it's appropriate in the location in question, whether or not it's environmentally friendly to the location.

[00:13:00]

That's the kind of thing the difficulty many people have with their strategic planning and the housing initiative is that it bypasses the normal routine democratic ability of a citizen to object.

[00:13:13]

Number of people saying that I have a lifelong history of objection to people.

[00:13:17]

I think I've objected to two things in my life.

[00:13:19]

I mean, I think when people talk about sort of NIMBYism and things like that, they'd say that she don't understand. And, you know, until it's actually until they see the impact on something in their neighborhood. And it's not about people don't want houses. I mean, there's other apartment blocks all around and the area there being built. And, you know, it's because this is something that was an immunity that's really special. It's an historical park.

[00:13:49]

And, you know, for the inspector to say that it's not part of the park because somehow it managed to be privately owned and doesn't make it any less part of the park. If you go down the avenue, it's just on the left of the historical avenue that led up to the house. And and, you know, I don't know what direction she came in. Maybe she came in, you know, through the school and to the back of the school.

[00:14:11]

And it wasn't obvious to her, but it's pretty obvious to anybody from the locality or anybody that's visited St Ann's Park that it is part of the park part.

[00:14:20]

Is the game over, though?

[00:14:22]

You know, the board has been involved several times and now they've given another decision for these nine storey and other blocks. It's a it's a huge development, absolutely huge development. How many apartments altogether and houses? 650.

[00:14:40]

So it would make a majority of them significant. You know, and the thing is, I mean, the people say by providing housing and like a lot of these developments on this particular developer has has a, you know, a background of of selling off plans and, you know, to move to the rental market. So you're not talking about homes for people. When people talk about homes, it becomes very emotive and people, you know, and if you thought that you were actually providing homes for for people and families and sustainable and building a community, but it's not about that.

[00:15:13]

It's about, you know, making, you know, making a profit and and, you know, if it's for the rental market that's outside of Ireland and people are just not even getting a tax intake and Ireland and it's it's not about secure homes that you have where you can you know, the bottom line, by the way, by Ben Barkha to say the 40 pitches are those in St John's Park.

[00:15:36]

That's what he was referring to. Another one says Icey biodiversity is actually more important in the long term than housing.

[00:15:44]

But that final question is about whether or not it's all over, whether or not the the residents and the other objectors are going to carry on.

[00:15:52]

No, I got an email and as a as a resident myself from the Clinton Residents Association, and it's up on their website, and I love St John's as well. And so I got an email from them as well. So I think they're just getting the legal teams now are looking at this and, you know, they're there. If you see, there's no way that it's going to be left like that as well. You know, it's just it will end up in court again and it just should not be up to.

[00:16:26]

Residents associations and people to have to fight this in the courts. I mean this our biodiversity and our amenities should be protected and by the planning authorities, by the state, and we shouldn't have to fight them. Nobody wants to give them. As you say, it's very stressful. It's very time consuming. And, you know, I know personally people that have put an awful lot of time and effort into this and, you know, they have their own families to look after.

[00:16:54]

But you're saying it will go on.

[00:16:56]

We have to leave it there. Donna, thank you.

[00:16:59]

Donna Cooney, Green Party councillor for Klumb. Tough.