Mixed Reaction in West Dublin to New National Planning Framework

by Mark O'Brien
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There has been mixed reaction across West Dublin to the new National Planning Framework (NPF), which was announced last week.

The €116 billion plan, dubbed Project Ireland 2040, was launched on Friday and promises to improve infrastructure across the country over the next 20 years.

The plan includes commitment to bring the Luas to Lucan, implementation and funding of the BusConnects Dublin strategy, improvements to the Adamstown and Nangor Roads and the upgrading of facilities at Tallaght Hospital.

The hospital will develop and commission a new renal unit and intensive care unit at the hospital.

Welcoming the news, David Slevin, CEO of Tallaght Hospital said: “The plan to increase acute hospital bed capacity nationally by 2,600 is also to be welcomed in light of projected population growth in Tallaght and our wider catchment it is reassuring to see that capital planning will be in line with demographic needs, and will inform future project selection ahead of the onset of increasing capacity requirements.”

Local TD Frances Fitzgerald (FG) said she was pleased that the plan would prioritise public transport.

She said: “This comprehensive plan provides guaranteed funding for projects that have long been identified as well as developing solutions to issues that have arisen in recent years.

“I will be following up with my colleagues in various departments to ensure timely progress on local projects.

“This plan is about investing to ensure our communities and our country is insulated against any possible challenges like Brexit. It’s a path to a positive, sustainable future.”

Cllr Emer Higgins (FG) also welcomed the plan.

She said: “This is Fine Gael’s plan for the future of Ireland and communities across Clondalkin, Lucan, Palmerstown and our villages of Newcastle, Rathcoole, Saggart and Brittas will benefit from it.

“For the first time in the history of the State, our spatial planning is backed up with solid investment and it will deliver for our citizens.”

But Fianna Fail TD John Curran was critical of the fact that the Luas to Lucan may not become a reality until 2027, saying that Lucan commuters are facing up to a “lost decade”.

“Anyone living or working in Lucan can tell you that developing a light rail link such as Luas or making significant improvements to the bus corridor and adding additional buses to the fleet in Lucan would make complete sense,” he said.

“There are significant gaps in existing services in Lucan; Dublin Bus routes are currently insufficient to deal with the growing population and traffic congestion remains a real issue for most.

“It’s quite difficult to comprehend that in approving €7 billion of taxpayer money to fund transport projects across Dublin; that the Lucan Luas project will not be operational until sometime after 2027 with no firm date set.

“At this rate of planning and strategic development it could well be 2040 before we see a Luas in Lucan and that is soul destroying.”

Cllr Madeleine Johansson (PBP) was also critical.

She said that it contains very little additional information on public transport infrastructure for Clonburris SDZ.

“While there is mention of the projects needed for Clonburris such as the DART expansion and the Lucan Luas, a much stronger commitment of funding is needed to guarantee the delivery,” she said.

“The DART expansion is outlined in terms of sequencing of services with the electrification of the Kildare line to Hazelhatch included in the later stage.

“This means in practice that by the time the second stage comes around a different government might decide to scrap this.

“Similarly, the Lucan Luas will be designed and planned but will not be delivered before 2027.

“For the Clonburris development to be successful, significant investment in public transport is required.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin said that he is seeking legal advice on the plan as he said Taoiseach Leo Vardkar deliberately misled the Dail when he stated that the plan did not require Oireachtas approval.

“Section 20(c) 8 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, currently before the Seanad, is clear that approval of each House of the Oireachtas is necessary for the planning policy to take legislative effect,” he said.

“No vote has taken place to date to approve the plan in either draft or final form. Last October, a vote was taken to refer the draft NPF to the Housing Committee for comment.

“This is not a minor technical matter. If the NPF is not on a statutory footing, it will remain just another aspirational document.

“As the Government seem intent on misleading the Oireachtas and the public on the matter, I have written to the Oireachtas Housing Committee chair requesting that our committee seeks independent legal advice to settle the matter.

“My request for legal advice will be discussed before this Thursdays’ committee meeting and I hope it will be supported by the other members. We need clarity on this issue as soon as possible.”

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