Withdrawal of re-zoning motion ‘A Community Victory’ for Save Swords Greenbelt

by Rose Barrett
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Members of a lobby group, Save Swords Greenbelt, were ecstatic last week following the withdrawal of Motion 535 at a meeting of Fingal Development Plan. 

The motion had been submitted by Cllr Brigid Manton (FF) on Thursday last, October 13, and supported by her party colleague, Cllr Darragh Butler calling for the rezoning of lands at the Brackenstown (Rivervalley, Ridgewood, Ashfield and Knocksedan) and Uniplumo (Rathbeale Road) greenbelts respectively. 

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, members of Save Swords Greenbelt and Swords Tidy Towns – some 30 residents in total – protested outside FCC’s offices to vent their opposition to Motion 535. 

The issue was debated at the council chamber and Cllr Manton then put forward her motion. However, councillor after councillor expressed their opinion against the rezoning and when it was apparent the majority was against the motion, Cllr Manton withdrew her motion. 

Speaking on behalf of Fingal Executive, Senior Planner Roisin Burke re-affirmed that there is already a surplus of residentially zoned lands in Fingal and Swords itself. 

A spokesperson for Save Swords Greenbelt stated the group and the people of Swords were delighted with Thursday’s result, that two greenbelts in Swords had been saved – a resounding success for the community. 

“The rezoning attempts by both FF councillors faced massive opposition from the community. It is a lesson that when we organise as a community, we can achieve real change! Our aim was to create a clean, safe and sustainable community for this generation and the next generation to come.” 

The campaign was described as a great example of “people power” and local democracy in action. 

However, Cllr Manton reiterated her passion for Swords, and stated: ““We need to work with this developer to maximise the benefits to the community. 

“I also was alarmed to hear the Manager speak of densities of 77 per hectare as the local area plan for here is for low density family homes – this is not the same as ME or TC zonings. 

“Secondly, this is not open space land, it’s privately-owned and no doubt will at least be partially zoned in the future probably with much higher densities than what is on offer now.” 

“Greenbelt is not the same as greenspace as there a myriad of different planning permissions which can be given on a greenbelt.” 

Relative planning permissions encompass everything from childcare facilities, bed and breakfast, residential, golf courses, holiday homes, community facility, boarding kennel, vet and/or GP clinic, agri-tourism – in fact, even burial grounds!

“We need the donation offered by this developer to get permeability to all three estates here. 

He has previously donated 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.” 

Given that 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, Cllr Manton stated there is no building in Swords at the moment except on one site. 

“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. Where are our young people to live?” 

“Furthermore, we need the upgrade of the Brackenstown Road along with cycling and walking lanes through the area to connect the communities.” 

Cllr Manton, a former school principal in the area again concluded that greenbelts normally divide towns – not estates within the same town. This was a missed opportunity for the future generations and greater benefit of Swords community she felt. 

Save Swords Greenbelt however, pointed out that that 99.4% of the 329 submissions made to the Draft Development Plan wanted the greenbelt retained and protected – as opposed to two only submissions against, one of which was from the developer. 

A spokesperson said: “A massive thank you to everyone in the community who supported the campaign. 

“We are especially grateful to Swords Tidy Towns and the five Swords Swords councillors who actively supported Save Swords Greenbelt from the start. They listened to the wishes of our community and championed our community’s cause. They are Cllr Joe Newman (Ind), Cllr Ann Graves (SF), Cllr Ian Carey (Greens) Cllr James Humphreys (Lab) and Cllr Dean Mulligan (Ind4Ch).”

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