My Submission for the county development plan 2010 – 2016
Tallaght Dublin 24
Dear Mr. Shanahan,
Thank you very much for the opportunity to make a submission on the development plan for 2010-2016. I hope you will take the opportunity to read my comments and hopefully they will be of benefit in drafting the new development plan.
COUNTY DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2010-2016
Submission made by Tom Dowling on January 8th, 2009
Lucan has been one of the fastest developing areas in the country throughout the 1990’s – unfortunately, the delivery of public transport and amenities did not match this development. The result of this has been a car driven society with little choice of public transport. Greater efforts must be made in this new development plan to ensure that further progress and growth are directly linked to the provision of community centers, operational public transport and delivery of permanent school buildings with the necessary funds allocated by the Department of Education to staff these facilities.
In recent years we have seen the move to higher density developments primarily made up of apartments, townhouses and duplexes. While this is not necessarily a negative progress, we must ensure that these developments have all the facilities ensuring a good quality of life to all who live there.
- In the interest of ensuring that higher density developments have the right mix of housing, it is important that in future developments there are a smaller percentage of single bedroom units and more larger units, which would encourage more families to settle there, thus ensuring the long term development of these communities.
- All buildings above 2 storeys should have a lift to assist families with young children, the old and the disabled; they will all enjoy a better quality of life in high-rise apartments/town houses.
- The majority of apartments should be dual aspect to provide more daylight; furthermore, apartment blocks should have sufficient space between them to allow natural light in.
- A considerable problem for people living in apartment blocks built in Ireland to date is the lack of storage. Having lived in Australia and as is customary in Europe generally; every apartment has an individual storage unit in the basement of the block. Here inhabitants can store bicycles, sports equipment, tools and other general household items that families would put in a garden shed. Without such a facility there is nowhere to keep such items in an apartment block environment. Observe as you drive around town next – at present you will see everything from a bike to a barbeque on the small balconies.
- All apartment complexes should have adequate storages areas for the collection of the 3 main waste streams, organic, dry recycling, and residual waste.
- All new developments should set aside 15% to open green space for use by all residents excluding any gated areas.
- Provisions should be made in all new developments for collection of rainwater and then its reuse in apartments for flushing toilets, outside taps and other appropriate uses.
- In larger developments provision should be made to install a communal space heating and hot water system connection to district heating network.
- At present, regulations for timber framed apartments and semi-detached homes pertaining to sound insulation are inadequate. Until regulations are changed to prevent household sounds transmitting through the fabric of the building such as a working dishwasher, TV, a baby crying, no further such developments should be granted.
Social and Affordable Housing
In the current economic downturn, it will be even more difficult for people to afford their own home. Greater initiatives will need to be put in place to ensure people on a reasonable wage will be in a position to purchase a home through Social and Affordable Schemes. A minimum of 20% of all homes in any development should fall in this category. It is vital that these home are distributed throughout the entire development and not restricted to a single block or wall and gated at a remote end of the development. It is also important that it is not an option for developers to buy out their options on social and affordable housing in any development, and move that percentage to other sites. This will ensure proper integration of all homeowners in all developments alike.
The school issue has been a huge problem in the Lucan area for more than a decade. While Lucan has received a number of additional primary schools in recent years, which went some way to meet demands of the high proportions of young families who moved into the Lucan area in the past 15years. This was a result of improper planning during those years when thousands of houses were granted permission without any guarantees to deliver school buildings and other public amenities.
At present, we have 12 national schools in the greater Lucan area and 4 secondary schools. A detailed analysis of official census data for Lucan-Esker and the surrounding electoral divisions shows that the number of 13-18 year olds in Lucan-Esker will rise from its 2006 figure of 1,300 to an incredible 4,186 by 2019. One of the most pressing issues in the greater Lucan area now is the immediate delivery of a new Secondary School in Lucan South to meet this demand.
While Adamstown is not the perfect scenario in every aspect of development – the phasing and requirements on the developer to provide sites and delivery of permanent school buildings imposed by An Bord Pleanála is the model that should be adopted for all further housing development. If there are sufficient schools adjacent to new development then a levy should be imposed which would go towards the development of other schools in the locality, where there was insufficient schools and funding to expedite the development.
The only such public playground in the greater Lucan area is situated in Griffeen Valley Park (leaving out Adamstown). As suggested below, a playground should be developed in the Lucan Demesne. There is also a need to put in some playground equipment in some of the smaller parks. Ballyowen Park come to mind as an obvious choice, which is a considerable distance away from both Griffeen Valley Park, Lucan Demesne or Adamstown.
Playing Pitches and appropriate Facilities
Lucan is lucky to have a number of public playing pitches in various parks. The facilities attached to these pitches are very archaic, most have a 40 foot steel container close by without electricity, heating or running water. In the interest of general hygiene and to encourage our youth to participate in sport, proper permanent changing rooms need to be built close by.
Recycling and Waste Collection Points
In recent years the number of glass, aluminum and clothing collection points around Lucan have diminished. There is currently only one collection point on the north side of the N4 in Lucan that I am aware of. If we are really serious about recycling then we must make it easier for resident to do so, without adequate drop off points the temptation is to put everything in the black bin.
- Current recycling rates for six months in 2008 for South Dublin are just 23.18% while 79.16% of all waste ended up in landfill. We must all play our part to increase the amount we recycle, reducing our need for both incineration and landfill. Other European countries such as Netherlands, Germany and Austria are currently recycling around 50%. There is no reason why we cannot do the same. On top of this, more waste should be recycled and reprocessed in Ireland, creating new industry and jobs at a time when the country needs them.
- Currently, Construction and Demolition waste is the single largest waste stream in the Region, most of this material could be recycled for other uses. Construction Industry must employ best practice at the design, planning and construction stage to ensure waste prevention and recycling opportunities are identified and implemented.
- SDCC are responsible for ensuring the activities of waste management companies and all waste producers are within the law and if not that the maximum penalties are applied.
- SDCC must over the next number of years put more resources into education and awareness campaigns on the importance of proper waste disposal and recycling. Another area where more education is required through the local schools. Most national school at this stage are part of the Green Schools scheme and SDDC should work more closely with the schools in relation to recycling.
- Greater effort is required particularly with regard to collection and treatment of organic waste for composting/ biological treatment.
- At present, only certain types of plastic are permitted in the green bin collection. Again, we should be recycling all types of plastic.
- If you wish to dispose of white goods, electric equipment, paints and other such material you would have to make at trip in your car to Ballymount. I believe it would be possible to have a small service operating at the green waste facility on Esker Lane for local recycling.
Multi-Function Community Centers
All new developments should make provision for multi-function community centers in the vicinity, or if one already exists, close by – pay a levy to such a center to ensure its viability. It is also important that these centers are adequately staffed and that the concerned have proper qualifications to run such a facility. In the past 20 years so much development was allowed in the Lucan area without any provision for such facilities, we cannot afford to make the same mistake. Without such centers teenagers become bored and this leads to anti-social behavior, gathering in large groups, causing annoyance to neighbours, underage drinking in public parks as well as defacing of both private and public property by graffiti. This is something that can be addressed by providing space where kids can freely express their art in graffiti such as walls at the skate park. Community centers could be an outlet where teenagers have a space to meet with their friends, participate in setting up their own local youth groups, more Youth Cafes need to be set up at these centers. These facilities could also double as day care centers for elderly people and disabled groups. In recent years we have seen the revival of Country Markets and this building could also play a role in such enterprise. A multi-function community center properly managed and funded will be beneficial to the entire community, both young and old.
Public Swimming Pool
Lucan is the only large urban area in South Dublin still without a public swimming pool, despite a series of promises from the management of SDCC in recent years. Lucan has a very young population and at present there is absence of public facilities and activities for teenagers in particular, the opening of a public swimming pool would be an important step in providing a key social activity for all in the greater Lucan area. Situated alongside the present Lucan Community Center it would enhance the current facilities and with the inclusion of a café could facilitate families attending nearby Griffeen Valley Park and the adjoining sport pitches and Skate Park.
Third Level Education Center
The development of a third level education center in Lucan would be a great welcome to the area. It would create new jobs within the district and hundreds of students would benefit by attending a college close to home.
A present, a site has been made available within the Adamstown lands for a Fire Station, to my knowledge no firm commitment has been made to provide a fire station as part of the Adamstown plans. With Lucan growing at such a fast pace we are relying on already overstretched services from both Blanchardstown and Tallaght. It should also be noted that recent developments in Lucan/Adamstown are not the traditional 3-bed semi detached housing of the past. Recently a fire broke out in a high-rise apartment block in Tallaght and because no turn table ladder was available at Tallaght station one had to travel out from a city center fire station. On this occasion the incident was not that serious but as we build more 5-10 storey blocks we need a service within the Lucan area capable of dealing with any incident that may occur.
Dedicated Theatre and Arts Centre
Within the time of this Development Plan the community of Lucan and Adamstown will reach 70,000 inhabitants. It deserves to have a dedicated theatre and arts centre. What is fundamentally lacking in the present Lucan is a designated cultural hub, a facility that would be beneficial across generations. It is common knowledge proven by socio-urban studies, that rich artistic and cultural life is advantageous to a centre of population in the sense that it enhances community awareness and spirit, brings together generations and allows people from different walks of life engage in a common experience.
The arts centre’s key focus will be on serving the community, acting as a platform for local artistic groups providing them with a rehearsal and performance space and also serving the need of the Lucan audience for professional artistic events. Therefore, it will not only bring in artists and professional performing groups, but also provide high-level arts facilities for local amateur groups. The existence of an Arts Centre in the heart of the community will spark and nurture interest in different arts disciplines with new groups forming, whether in the field of theatre, dance, music or visual arts.
The best practice from the recently built Theatres and Arts Centres shows that an Arts Centre reaching successfully to its community needs to present an ambitious and varied programme of dance, theatre, music, art cinema and visual arts. A dedicated gallery space – combined with a café – for artists (local, Irish and international) to exhibit their works, will be a welcome alternative from the current exhibition space in the Lucan Library.
The Arts Centre will engage closely with the community, providing training as well as leisure time initiatives. The possibilities are endless – a stage school, playwriting courses, children and youth arts weekends, dance classes, painting and drawing classes, lectures for the public on different art forms, talks with invited artists (actors, musicians, dancers, choreographers, film makers), etc. The added advantages of an Arts Centre being a local employer are indisputable.
Arts Weekend combining the Liffey Descend
To put Lucan on the cultural map and to celebrate the Arts Centre’s life as a fully functioning cultural institution, an annual arts (weekend) festival should be established, benefiting Lucan from increased tourist and visitor trade. It might be possible to combine the Annual Liffey Descend with an Arts Weekend festival, as suggested above. This could prove a focus point to promote Lucan, the Liffey Valley and provide the businesses in Lucan with a vital boost in revenue (Dun Laoghaire Rathdown run a very successful international street festival each year in Dun Laoghaire, similarly Greystones).
Development of Public Parks and Water Amenities
Lucan Demesne/St. Catherine’s Park
The Lucan Demesne/St Catherine’s Park is a place that provides great pleasure to many people of Lucan at present. It could however be enhanced by allowing cycling to use the Demesne on separate pathways similar to those in the Phoenix Park and Memorial Park.
The addition of a Tea room/Cafe would I believe entice a greater volume of people to use the Demesne, a structure similar to those in the Dublin Zoo African plains would blend in quite nicely, with a barbeque area close by. If you have been to the Phoenix Park particularly over the past ten years you will see that most weekends every available picnic table is in use with families of all nationalities.
Further to that, a secluded spot should be set aside for the development of a playground area – again this would open up this great facility to a new generation.
The addition of public toilets would serve both general public visiting the park and for members of local canoe clubs.
More sign posting in the Lucan area to car park facilities available on the St Catherine’s Park end would also encourage more people to visit the park, as the car park on the Old Leixlip Rd end is quite small and often full at weekends.
Last year we have seen a cull of the deer population in the Phoenix Park – maybe it would be possible to install a small heard of deer in the Demesne rather than killing them off last year. There is in my opinion plenty of grazing for them and shelter within the forested areas. It is reasonably secure at present with some additional higher fencing required in areas.
Griffeen Valley Park
This is a vital green area for those living in Lucan South. I do believe it could do with some more mature planting in some areas. Again the addition of a tearoom/cafe and barbeque and more seating area would be a welcome development here and encourage families to come more often and remain longer.
Make Liffey Valley a National park and open it up to the public. The Liffey is of great importance to the people of Dublin. To lose any more of these lands that surround the Liffey would be to rob future generations of this unspoilt natural beauty area that can never be replaced. It is unique in that it is so close to the city and yet it has so much to offer, it should be opened up for people to walk along the banks of the Liffey and enjoy the views of the many weirs along the route. It provides so much pleasure to those involved in canoeing and rowing at present. A fact that is evident on an annual basis when almost a thousand people take part in the Liffey Decent, which is watched along the way by thousands of spectators. The Liffey Valley could be linked by pedestrian and cycling pathways to other existing public parks including Memorial Park, Islandbridge, the Phoenix Park, Lucan Demesne a new cross river link to Waterstown Park, Palmerstown, thus creating even further safe routes for people to enjoy.
A significant portion of the lands within the valley is under the protection of a Special Amenity Area Order. I welcome John Gormley’s recent letter to the county manager asking for an evaluation of the lands between Palmerstown and Lucan Bridge, between the existing area of Special Amenity and the N4/Old Lucan Rd/Old Hill Rd in order for some of these lands being designated a new region of special amenity area. This may be the first step but SAAO would prevent any further development. Minister Gormley has signalled the government’s intentions and hopefully this will be reflected in the new development plan. These lands must be once and for all protected from any further development.
The Grand Canal
We are very lucky to have the Grand Canal flowing through one end of Lucan, yet many people in Lucan are unaware of its existence. To many in recent years it has become a dumping ground, its time to clean up this area and make it accessible to the public Towpaths are in need of repair while new ones also need to be put in to allow people to access this waterway, along with public lighting, new park benches, moorings and litterbins along the banks. Clearing of the vegetation from the canal bed on a regular basis and regular stocking of the canal with fish. It would prove a great leisure activity to be able to walk from the 9th to the 12th lock! The canal is an important wildlife corridor – every effort must be made to ensure the natural and wildlife features of the site are protected.
Urban School Bus Service
At present there are 12 primary schools and 4 secondary schools serving Lucan. During morning rush hour many of these children are taken to the various schools in the family car. This happens due to a number of factors – distance from school, parent’s constraint by work commitments and weather conditions. I believe the introduction of an Urban School bus service would remove a lot of cars from the roads during morning and afternoon school times, and in tandem with HGV ban it would improve traffic chaos at these times. It would also increase the quality of family life, removing stress from parents of this daily task.
Introduction of Real Time Bus Schedule on all Bus Routes
Having visited many European cities over the past few years, it has been a pleasure to use public transport, including buses. Most countries that I visited have a real time bus schedule at all bus stops; this allows you to plan your arrival with greater accuracy. At present if I walk down to a bus stop in Lucan I have no idea if a bus will come in 2 mins or 30 mins – with today’s technology this is simply unacceptable. Dublin Bus ran trials on the 25A about 6-7 years ago but we have still seen no progress on this. More frequent and new bus routes are required in the greater Lucan. The 25A at present spends too long meandering through various estates of South Lucan. This service should be split into 2 new services, one commencing at Superquinn and covering estates the west side of the Outer Ring Road. A second service commencing at The Penny Hill covering estates on the eastern side of the Outer Ring Road. The current 25 route requires a more frequent service throughout the whole day. At present much emphasis is given to the 66 and 67 routes travelling through Lucan Village, which commence in Celbridge and Maynooth – on many occasions these services are already full by the time they reach Lucan Village leaving many people standing at the stop frequently while 2 or 3 buses pass by.
Every opportunity must be taken to ensure that bus routes and the proposed Luas Line intersect, giving commuters further options to interchange.
Luas Service for Lucan
It is hoped that towards the end of this development plan Luas line F for Lucan will come on stream. This will be a welcome addition to public transport service in Lucan. Every effort must be made to ensure that the Luas service is properly planned and laid out to benefit the people of Lucan. The terminus which is planned for the park close to Lucan Community College should be located as close as possible to Superquinn, which would benefit the 3 local schools, residents shopping without the use of a car, and interconnection with Bus service at Superquinn. Every effort should be taken to ensure the Terminus is properly landscaped with mature trees and blends into the surrounding park. Other stops along the route should be positioned at strategic locations to maximize the benefits to residents in the area.
It is vital that in this development plan that land should be set aside to enable the service to be extended to Lucan Village via Adamstown and Dodsborough. At present Lucan is almost two separate entities divided by what will now be a 3-lane motorway. Extending the Luas to the Village would increase interaction between both communities and should provide vital revenue to business in the Village area.
Kildare Route Project
Due to sustained pressure from local community groups An Bord Pleanála decided to include the building of a train station at Adamstown plus the delivery of a limited service as part of the phasing of Adamstown. While it is a welcome service, at present it terminates at Heuston Station which means one needs to get on another service (Bus, Luas) or walk to reach their destination in the city center. Four tracking is now well on the way, but this will guarantee capacity at Adamstown as other developers build more and more new developments along the rail line. Only the electrification of the line to allow higher frequency of trains, plus the building of the interconnector between Heuston and Spencer Dock will ensure that this service has the capacity and connections to make the service viable.
We know that the Metro West route will have a stop at Liffey Valley, it would be important that bus routes act as a feeder service to the Metro. It is vital that any bridge design is architecturally pleasing and blends in with the landscape of the valley.
New Road Bridge across the Liffey
For many years now a new bridge crossing of the Liffey has been discussed. As mentioned in my section on Development of Public parks and water amenities, the Liffey Valley is a very rare and precious unspoilt area that must be protected from any further development. The location of any new crossing of the Liffey should ensure the continued preservation of the Liffey Valley. Over the last number of years SDCC has commenced development of Grange Castle business park attracting a number of world leaders in pharmaceutical industry to set up there. Hopefully employment will continue to grow in the area over the next number of years to provide much needed jobs to meet the demands of the Lucan/Clondalkin area. This of course will lead to increased HGV traffic in the region. To ensure this traffic is not directed through Lucan via the Newcastle Rd, it would be more appropriate if a new road was to be built connecting Grange Castle heading West towards the site of the Old Polly Hops Pub before arching around Lucan and Leixlip with a new bridge over the M4 passing close to the Intel plant.
Esker Lane Slip Road
During the oral hearing a decision was made by An Bord Pleanála to close the Esker lane slip road against the wishes of most of the community represented. I suggested the Council should re-examine the Esker Lane proposal and that a service road for a left-out westward situation would be of no danger to either traffic on the N4 or traffic entering the N4. The provision of a service road from Esker Lane to the Newcastle road junction would enable residents in the Esker/Elmbrook area to access Lucan Village without having to go through the Ballydowd or Newcastle Road interchanges, at the same time reducing traffic volumes at these two crossing points.
Now that the Newcastle Road interchange is almost complete the only stopping point between the Chapelizod bypass and the start of the M4 at Leixlip interchange is the Palmerstown interchange. Traffic leaving the city heading West in the evening peak time can expect anything up to a 20 minute wait to get through the light at Palmerstown. A new interchange is required at this junction similar to that already built at Newcastle junction. On top of allowing free flow of traffic, it would once again provide linkage between the two communities that were divided more than 30 years ago by the N4.
Cycle Lanes, better and safer Footpaths for Pedestrians
Old Lucan Road
While parts of Lucan South are well served by new cycle lanes, the older parts of Lucan are not so lucky. The footpaths on the Old Lucan Rd heading out of the Village from the AIB bank up to the entrance of Lucan Demesne is appalling. The footpath is very narrow on both sides of the road; most of the footpath is missing its curb and is on the same level as the road, which makes it very dangerous for pedestrians and especially for mothers with buggies or people in wheelchairs. A new pedestrian crossing is urgently required, possibly somewhere near the Ball Alley Pub to allow bus commuters to access the bus stops. This route is hazardous to all cyclists. Work should be undertaken without delay on this stretch of road before some one is killed.
Now that the N4 has been upgraded to a 3-lane roadway with a continuous medium barrier, It is impossible for residents of Kew Park to access Public transport going into town. A new pedestrian bridge is required at this point to facilitate residents of Kew Park.
Now that the Newcastle Rd interchange at the N4 has been completed I believe it will lead to increase HGV traffic traveling between the N4 and N7. There are 5 schools adjacent to the Newcastle Rd between the Church at Esker and the Cork railway bridge. A school time HGV ban is urgently required on this route to ensure the safety of over 2,500 school attending schools along this route.
On top of this a 30kpm speed limit needs to be put in place with flashing school warning signs in place to raise the awareness of schools in the area. The safety railings close to traffic lights at Tandy’s lane junction should be extended on both sides of N4 all the way to the Superquinn roundabout to provide further safety to school children.
Further improvement of the Newcastle Rd is required for both motorists and pedestrians from the new railway bridge at Adamstown up to the junction at the old Polly Hops pub. At present this is one of the most dangerous routes to either cycle or walk in Lucan. This section of road needs to be realigned and should include a raised and separated cycle lanes. By doing this it would encourage increased use of cycling and walking as an option for residents to reach Lucan Sarsfields, Pitch and Put course, access the canal at the 12th Lock and the Grange Castle Business Park.
With further development of Adamstown and increased traffic using Dodsborough to access the N4 its is important that enhancements are in place by Dodsborough Cottages/Hillcrest to upgrade footpaths and the inclusion of cycle lanes to assist pedestrians and children attending the local school, and shops and to do so safely.
Conserving ancient Sites and natural and built Amenities
Lucan Bridge is the largest single span masonry arch bridge in Ireland at 33metres wide dating from 1814. At present this information is one of the best-kept secrets in the county. It is time that a notice board was erected on the bridge outlining the history of both the bridge and the river Liffey (history should also be noted on the information board in the village centre). The bridge has been allowed to deteriorate over the past 20-30 years. The capping is in need of cleaning and re-pointing, the balustrades are in need of cleaning and repainting. I am unsure whether the wire currently attached to the balustrades is there to secure them or as a safety measure. In any case it is unsightly and another method should be found to make the bridge more attractive.
New appropriate period lighting similar to lamps in the Phoenix Park should be installed to further enhance the beauty of the bridge. This is one of the real gems in Lucan providing many photo opportunities and should be acknowledged as such in the new development plan. The recent work to the riverbanks is a very welcome development, however I hope that SDCC intend to landscape the area and include some public lighting and public benches where people can sit and enjoy the beauty of the bridge and the weir.
King John’s Bridge
Allegedly the oldest bridge in the country still intact dating from the early 1200’s crossing the Griffeen River at Esker. We should acknowledge this by the installation of a notice board outlining the history of both the bridge and the river. No serious attempt has been made to protect this very fragile structure and its whereabouts and place in history is known to very few in the area. It is time we corrected this, South Dublin has an obligation to ensure that the history of these two bridges is made known to the general public. SDCC must also ensure that every effort is made that essential repairs are carried out to guarantee such landmarks are preserved for future generations. A poor attempt was made some years ago to repair King John’s bridge but instead of using the original stone, most of which is still lying in the riverbed, modern breezeblocks were used. It is time that this historic site is protected from further destruction, other wise it is in danger of being lost forever.
Located now in Hills industrial estate the brick chimney dates from the mid 1800’s and is a distinct landmark of the area. This chimney represents an important part of early industry in Lucan and its long-term preservation is essential to the history of Lucan.
These were built for workers in Hills Mills and they are one of the most featured of any photographs taken of Lucan and South Dublin area in general. I am not aware if these are protected structures at present, but in recent years I have noticed the introduction of modern PVC windows, and various different designs of doors on some of the houses. I would like to see the integrity of this terrace protected from modernisation, and if possible grants provided to restore the original look.
Museum on the History of the Liffey and its Environment and People
At present, we have no museum in the greater Lucan area that I am aware of. In my opinion, Shackelton’s Mills would provide the ideal location given the fact it is already owned by Fingal County Council. It could be undertaken as joint venture between Fingal and South Dublin, covering the history of the river Liffey from Viking times, the mills that existed along its banks, the Liffey Valley and surrounding areas such as the Strawberry Beds.
Some space could also be dedicated to famous people and their connections to the Lucan area such as William Sarsfield, architects James Gandon who lived in Lucan, and who designed buildings of architectural note such as the Four Courts, Custom House and part of Kings Inn building, and James Hoban who designed Lucan House, now the Italian residency, before emigrating to America and designing the White House using inspiration from Lucan House especially in the Oval Room.
Arthur Guinness is a name that is known worldwide and his connection to the Liffey in Leixlip, the site of the first Guinness brewery, is another that we should highlight. Such a museum would attract more tourists to the area, which at present lacks a focal point it would also be of benefit to local schools and the people of the surrounding area in obtaining more information and learning more about the area on top of bringing additional revenue into the district in general.
Categories: General Views