Cllr responds to Swords greenbelt issue

by Rose Barrett
0 comment

A petition of over 2,000 residents in Swords was signed in support of protecting a greenbelt which separates Rivervalley, Knocksedan and Ridgewood estates. A petition of over 2,000 residents in Swords was signed in support of protecting a greenbelt which separates Rivervalley, Knocksedan and Ridgewood estates.

However, Cllr Brigid Manton (FF) has proposed a motion to have a tract of land at Knocksedan rezoned for housing. The motion was not heard at this week’s council meeting but will likely be submitted at the October meeting. 

Fingal County Council Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly also supports the protection of the greenbelt, along with five of seven local councillors: Cllr Ann Graves (SF), Joe Newman (Ind), Dean Mulligan (Ind4Change), Ian Carey (GP) and Cllr James Humphreys (Lab). 

Save Swords Greenbelt, a local lobby group claim 329 submissions were made during the current (2023-2029) Draft Development Plan consultation process (the largest number of submissions on any single issue) asking for the greenbelt to be retained. 

However, Cllr Manton said there are a few points that need to be clarified with regards to the planning significance of a ‘greenbelt’ and a ‘green space.’ 

“The land at Knocksedan is privately owned and therefore is not available as a green belt area. Greenbelt is not the same as greenspace as there a myriad of different planning permissions which can be given on a greenbelt.” 

Cllr Brigid Manton

The list provided by Cllr Manton encompasses everything from a bed and breakfast, residential, childcare facilities, golf courses, holiday homes, community facility, boarding kennel, vet and/or GP clinic, agri-tourism – in fact, even burial grounds! 

However, Save Swords Greenbelt maintain that the merging of the three vast estates along with another new estate would result in one giant concrete urban sprawl. It would, claims SSG, destroy a vital greenbelt with the loss of biodiversity and increased pollution along with putting unsustainable pressure on existing services e.g., schools, healthcare, transport, and amenities. 

Cllr Manton stated the owner-developer of the lands at Knocksedan has already built beautiful homes here while donating large tracts of land to Fingal County Council to continue developing the Ward Rivervalley Park. 

“He is prepared to give more for a football field, the extension of the park, and the land to construct the Western Bypass out of town. 

“There are thousands of people on the social housing list who have no homes and many more young couples living in Swords – some mortgage approved – who cannot find a house to buy.” 

She continued: “Swords has been identified as one of the three strategic towns in the MASP to deliver a population extension up to 10,000 people by 2030, Maynooth and Bray being the other two (both of which have railway lines). 

“There is no building in Swords at the moment except on one site and if our young people are to have homes, we need to see a lot more being built!” 

A former Principal at St Cronan’s Junior National School, Cllr Manton says she dealt with families locked in homelessness. 

“All parties involved here need to sit down and get the best for the community between the land owner and the council. I have lived and worked all my life in Swords, and I love my hometown. 

“I’ve witnessed many protests like this against areas like Rivervalley, Swords Manor etc being built. Usually, they come from people who already live in very comfortable homes themselves.” 

Furthermore, Cllr Manton noted that greenbelts normally divide towns – not estates in the same town. 

“The area between Knocksedan and Ridgewood is not offering any kind of solutions for walking, cycling access or public transport. This landowner is in favour of the green necklace around the town as I am. By working with this owner, we could provide this along with some much-needed houses for our people.” 

Save Swords Greenbelt argued that 99.4% of the 329 submissions made to the DDP want the greenbelt retained and protected – as opposed to two only submissions against.

Related Articles