A community group in Donabate has expressed disappointment at An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant permission for a 198-unit housing project.

Supporting Proper Development Donabate (SPDD) says densities are too high in the scheme by Tilberry Ltd on lands at the New Road, representing over-development.

It expressed concern at the role of An Bord Pleanala in “effectively helping the applicant to reconfigure its application instead of rejecting it, as it should have done”.

The scheme was first granted permission in August 2017 by Fingal County Council, which approved an application for 150 housing units in three-storey blocks.

Following appeals by individuals and the Links Residents’ Association, revised plans incorporating an additional 48 units in blocks up to four storeys were lodged – after the board wrote to the developer suggesting higher densities.

The Links Residents’ Association discussed whether to withdraw the appeals or not at a meeting last June and decided unanimously to proceed.

Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF) described the ruling by An Bord Pleanala as “devastating” and said it was a “shocking decision”.

He pointed out that the board’s own inspector recommended granting permission for the original development of 151 units at a density of 36 units per hectare, as opposed to 198 mainly duplexes at a density of 50 per hectare.

Cllr Henchy said he “did everything in his power” to forewarn those who appealed the original decision of the direction the board was taking, and he rejected any suggestion that this was because he was acting on behalf of the developer.

In a lengthy Facebook post, he called on Tilberry Ltd to go back to the drawing board and not to proceed with the 198-unit scheme.

He added: “In my five years on the council, this was the most important housing decision for Donabate to come before me, given the strategic location of this site to Donabate village.

“It saddens me greatly that we have, in my opinion, ended up with the worst possible outcome.”