Swords to hit population of 100,000 – but not without Metro

by Sylvia Pownall

Ambitious blueprints providing for the future growth of Swords to a population of 100,000 people will go on public display next month.

The local community is being urged to have an input into four master plans for land-banks which will deliver houses, schools and up to 18,000 jobs over the next 20 years.

Consultant Robert McLoughlin said the plans would provide a “robust urban framework” for development, adding: “Really, what’s driving a lot of this is MetroLink.”

Finalising the rail route will open up key lands and Fingal County Council chief executive Paul Reid has called for the northern segment to be built regardless of delays south of the city centre.

He warned: “We are ready for it and we need it. And, when we get it, our future is set to shine very brightly indeed.”

Master plans for future developments at Airside, Fosterstown (Forest Road), Barrysparks (Holywell), Estuary West (Balheary) will go on display for three weeks from March 5 to March 26.”

Members of the public will have an opportunity to make submissions before a report is brought back to councillors in late April and a vote will be taken on May 13, just before the local elections.

In total, the plans provide for 3,400 new housing units (700 at Barrysparks, 1,200 at Fosterstown and 1,500 at Balheary) along with two new schools, two metro stations, a hotel, a 3,500sq m local centre and 237,000sq m of commercial space.

Public transport infrastructure – namely MetroLink and BusConnects – dictate opportunities with an upgrade to the R132 and a link road from Airside to Feltrim recommended.

Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) said the plans represented a “very important” element of the future growth of Swords which is expected to expand to a population of 60,000 people in the medium term and 100,000 in the long term.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Fingal County Council, Paul Reid, reinforced his stance on MetroLink, calling for the northern segment to be built without delay.

Mr Reid warned that the light-rail network was “a key piece in our development jigsaw” and ongoing delays in publishing the preferred route had led to “genuine fears that MetroLink will not be in place by its 2027 target”.

The council’s director of planning and strategic infrastructure AnnMarie Farrelly said the local authority has already laid the foundations to transform North County Dublin when MetroLink arrives.

The Fingal County Development plan 2018-2023 provides for 49,000 homes and a significant stock of undeveloped land along the MetroLink route will play “a fundamental role,” she said.

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