Locals in Donabate have welcomed An Bord Pleanala’s decision to refuse permission for 174 apartments in five four-storey blocks at Semple Woods on the Hearse Road.

Glenveagh Homes Ltd’s application to replace 35 houses and 62 apartments with a higher-density alternative was rejected – despite the advice of the board’s own inspector.

Donabate Portrane Community Council, which had objected to the application on the grounds that increasing the number of units from 251 to 328 represented “excessive density”, welcomed the news.

The community council said the area was already suffering from over-crowded public transport and a constrained road infrastructure, even when the new Donabate Distributor road is completed.

An Bord Pleanala refused the application on design grounds and because it said there were too many parking spaces allocated, noting the fact that the site is close to the train station.

The community council had expressed concern that units would be sold to so-called ‘cuckoo funds’ and would “elbow out” first-time buyers.

It also expressed disappointment that the application was not refused on environmental grounds, given its proximity to the Broadmeadows Special Area of Conservation.

Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF) also welcomed the board’s decision, but said he was “taken aback” by the planning inspector’s recommendation that permission be granted.

He added: “This is an outrageous recommendation that further heightens my serious lack of confidence in the workings of An Bord Pleanala.

“I am very much relieved on this occasion that the board decided to overturn the recommendation of their own inspector and refuse the application.”

Cllr Henchy added: “Undoubtedly, the board in its deliberations leaned heavily on the comprehensive 60-page submission from the Chief Executive, together with the Strategic & Planning Department of Fingal County Council, which had strongly recommended to ABP that this amended application be refused.”

Cllr Henchy had also lodged an objection to the proposed amendment outlining his concerns, which included the “blanket approach to the height of the apartments”, campus-style building layout and dominance of car parking.

He pointed out that the new greenway linking Newbridge House with Donabate village was not factored into the design, adding that the development would “not provide for an acceptable level of residential or visual amenity … and would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.