THE LABOUR PARTY has called for assurances that national parks and heritage sites – including the Phoenix Park in Dublin – will not be sold off for housing.
Its housing spokesperson Senator Rebecca Moynihan warned that the city’s green lung could be at risk of compulsory purchase order under measures proposed in the Land Development Bill.
She said: “The community value of the Phoenix Park, our national parks and heritage sites has been proved throughout the past year as many seek solace in these open green spaces.
“It’s our right as citizens to enjoy these spaces and the Housing Minister must now confirm that they will not be at risk of a compulsory purchase order under proposals in the LDA Bill which is currently going though the Oireachtas.
“The Labour Party has put forward amendments to the Bill to ensure the Phoenix Park, national parks and heritage sites are excluded from the CPO powers of the LDA under the draft Bill.”
The Phoenix Park is the largest park in Europe and builders have for years eyed it up for development. Under new powers the LDA will not need to seek council approval to dole out lands.
A Labour Party amendment to the Bill proposes to specifically exclude ‘any land that is being managed, maintained or developed as a nature reserve or a national park by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government’.
The amendment would also include ‘any land that is being managed, maintained or developed as a heritage site by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland’ and specifically refers to ‘the Phoenix Park, Dublin’.
Senator Moynihan said: “As well as the importance to community wellbeing and mental health, national parks are vital natural solutions to bring down our carbon emissions and allow wildlife to flourish.
“Spaces such as the Phoenix Park are at the centre of communities, provide a space for people to make connections, to take time out of the busy, noisy world we live in and appreciate the natural environment.
“They are integral to fostering happy and healthy cities and must be protected. I hope the Minister can accept our amendment and ensure that these parks will be used for the common good for years to come.”
Separately, a public consultation on a new mobility plan for the park has received over 2,200 submissions.
The plan drawn up by the Office of Public Works would increase restrictions on cars and is supported by cycling groups.
However motorists have expressed concern at the restricted access and the reduction in parking along the length of the main thoroughfare, Chesterfield Avenue.