By Rose Barrett
Two weeks ago members of Dublin City Council voted to rezone lands in Finglas, referred to locally as the Jamestown Development.
The site in question encompasses lands along Jamestown Road, McKee Avenue and St Margaret’s Road.
While there are few who would argue that Finglas needs regeneration, needs more housing and commercial investment – the zoning of the lands has left some local residents fuming, and claiming that once again, a Dublin suburb will fall victim to high rise ‘build to rent’ apartments, leaving little accommodation for local needs.
Philip Brogan’s (27) family have lived at McKee Avenue for 125 years but he knows already he is facing the same dilemma as many of his friends and neighbours.
“Everyone totally agrees that Finglas needs revitalisation. We’ve had over 1,000 apartments built here over the years and only 20 per cent were allocated for social housing – the rest, 80 per cent, went for rentals,” claims Philip who works in the finance sector.
“Many of the locals are ruled out of social housing as it has a cap of €36,000 per annum earnings. We’d welcome new houses but all my friends have had to move out further along the commuter belt in Fingal. There simply are no houses available to buy here.”
Mr Brogan has many issues with the public consultation and the ‘rushed’ progress of plans for the Jamestown site.
“The Strategic Housing Development expires in February; with the lands rezoned last week by councillors, the developers now have a window to push this application.”
Along with a mix of commercial units and offices, open spaces and amenities, there is expected to be over 2,200 housing units on the Jamestown development lands.
Forty three councillors voted in favour of the motion to rezone lands in Finglas with only 17 voting against. Local councillor Anthony Conlan (SF) and Noeleen Reilly (Ind) also supported the motion. Cllr O’Reilly did not respond to Gazette enquiries to comment.
For Philip and many local residents, the whole process of public consultation was thwarted during the Covid restrictions, when the 5km limit was in effect.
“McKee Avenue has lots of elderly residents and many are not IT savvy – indeed, several don’t even have broadband. These are people who would have gone down to see the plans if they had been on display locally. But no, they were available at Wood Quay, which was more than 5kms.
“I rang many times and asked if we could exceed the restrictions and the council staff weren’t sure. I even rang the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien’s office. I know it was confirmed in the Dáil that people could exceed the 5km limit for planning applications. But this was a planning review, not a planning application! It was totally confusing.”
Mr Brogan noted that182 objections were lodged but only 20 supported the Jamestown plan – and seven of these were workers from the development site who don’t live in the area.
“A last-minute petition in only six days secured over 500 names,” he added.
Mr Brogan called on Dublin City Council to present the plans for Jamestown at a local venue and to allow Finglas residents a time extension to properly view and comment on the proposal.
In response to the issues raised above, Dublin City Council replied:
“The Variation was agreed at last week’s City Council meeting. The next stage will be the preparation of a Masterplan for the area which will happen in due course.”
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