Anger over Dundrum redevelopment proposals

by Rachel Cunningham
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By Rachel Cunningham

A crowd of almost 500 gathered in a last-ditch effort to stop a number of development plans for Dundrum village which have been put forward by Hammerson-Allianz.

Chief among the grievances of local community is the overall height and density of the development, with planned 11 apartment blocks, some standing five-storeys on Main Street West, others between eight and 12-storeys, with one rising to 16-storeys at the northern end. 

Locals were irate on hearing that under the development, heritage buildings along the main street would be demolished, despite being part of an architectural conservation area. 

One local said there was “significant anger” at the meeting, which was organised by local residents group ‘Imagine Dundrum,’ over the Hammerson-Allianz redevelopment plans for the second major town in Dublin. 

“Everyone in the room was pro-development,” Independent County Councillor on the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Imagine Dundrum Co-Founder, Anne Colgan, told the Dublin Gazette. “Everyone would like to see the site developed because it has been lying there for over 15 years now and it has great potential.”

Addressing the gathering in Taney Parish Centre last Wednesday, Councillor  Colgan stressed that the purpose of the meeting was “not about nimbyism” but because “local people have a really strong sense of community and a strong sense of what makes a great place to live in, to work in, to grow up in, to grow old in”.

She said that, while Imagine Dundrum is actively seeking redevelopment in the area, it would like to see this done in ways that would enhance the local community and to create a “truly liveable Dundrum”, with an emphasis on neighbourhood relationships, a sense of civic pride and the protection of current architecture.

Commenting on this proposal, Ms Colgan cautioned: “Instead of an urban sprawl, we’re going to have a vertical sprawl”.

In a statement, Imagine Dundrum asserted that the proposed structures would be “overbearing and wholly out of keeping with the surrounding low-rise and low-density suburban environment”. 

The group, which also held an application writing clinic for over 100 people over the course of last Saturday, outlined why the public should challenge the current plans. 

It claimed that, as they currently stand, the plans are not responsive to the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Development Plan (2022-28) and fail “to build the best possible place for the current and new community in Dundrum”.

In her address, Ms Colgan described Imagine Dundrum’s first meeting in 2017 as “full of hope that the voice of the local community would be heard”, in contrast to last week’s gathering. 

“All of those proposals have been sent to the site owners and it is a source of sadness and regret to us that the owners chose not to accede to our many requests over the years to engage with the local community in the planning of the site. The community was willing, ready and able to talk and it would have been a win-win for everybody.”

Ms Colgan also highlighted how “unfair” the current system is for members of the public wishing to make submissions, telling the Dublin Gazette: “These are huge planning applications and the average person wouldn’t be able to get a good sense of them without an expert, which was what we were trying to provide by having an urban planner [Brendan Buck] there. 

“When attendees saw the scale of the overbearing development being proposed, I think there was a sharp intake of breath, as people worried that this proposal would completely overwhelm the village”.

Ms Colgan described Dundrum as currently being “badly served” for community facilities, claiming that locals had expected more mixed-use facilities, such as civic and culture facilities, employment opportunities and a community centre, to be included in the plans. 

“Because this is 95 per cent residential, it isn’t making the kind of provisions that are needed and that the council insists on in a major town centre zoned site”, she explained.

Members of the public can make a submission/observation to An Bord Pleanála before Monday, May 9, via https://online.pleanala.ie/en–ie/housing/observation. For information on how to submit an observation, see imaginedundrum.ie. 

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