Council Briefs: Closing a Clontarf Laneway, and Building on Oscar Traynor Road

Residents who live on a Clontarf laneway want it closed because they say there’s a problem with anti-social behaviour there, but Dublin City Council management wants it to stay open.

All 29 residents who live on the lane are in favour of closing it off to stop the anti-social behaviour and prevent break-ins, independent Councillor Damien O’Farrell said at the council’s North Central Area Committee meeting Monday.

But council management want the lane to remain open because it provides “permeability”. In other words, it means some people who live in the wider area have a quicker route to get to shops or to visit neighbours.

Permeability is governed by National Policy guidelines therefore I recommend that the Committee retain the public right of way,” said the council Area Manager Dave Dinnigan, in the council management’s report on the issue.

The laneway runs between Belgrove Road and Vernon Avenue in Clontarf. The council’s report says there have been objections to closing it from residents in other parts of the area, who use the lane to get where they are going.

Council management’s position did not go over well with some councillors. Labour Councillor Jane Horgan Jones was incensed at the idea that national guidelines trumped councillors’ right to decide the issue.

“This is effectively ambushing us,” she said. “My understanding is that it certainly a reserved function.” (Reserved functions are those that councillors actually have power over, as opposed to things council management can overrule them on.)

Furthermore, the issue has been discussed twice before in the area committee, and so Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí said he couldn’t understand how the issue hadn’t been raised before. “If permeability is the main issue it should have been clear long before now,” he said.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom Brabazon said it “seems beyond credibility” that permeability should trump the serious anti-social behaviour threatening residents living on the lane.

The councillors on the area committee unanimously rejected council management’s position.

Oscar Traynor Road

Councillors heard that council management is examining ways to speed up the procurement process at the Oscar Traynor Road site, where there is a plan to get developers to build 650 units of housing as part of the council’s housing lands initiative.

By procurement, the council managers mean choosing who gets to build there. 

Connell McGlynn, a project estate officer for Dublin City Council, said that an auditor has been appointed, as have legal consultants and procurement consultants.

They have begun advertising and the next step is to identify a procurement process, he said. The cost-benefit analysis of the different proposals that come in from developers should be done in September, said McGlynn.

People Before Profit Councillor John Lyons asked if councillors can be given a general framework for the terms of the cost-benefit analysis. McGlynn said he didn’t think so, as it is commercially sensitive.

Labour Councillor Alison Gilliland wanted to know what criteria would be employed when choosing between the five possible procurement options, but McGlynn said this was commercially sensitive too.

There has as yet been no decision as to the method of providing cost-rental housing on the site, he said.

The problem is not with the concept of affordable housing, he said, but rather the rental aspect of it and how this would work, if residents’ incomes go up or down, he said: “I’ve been told a solution is imminent, but I’ve been told that for the last nine months.”

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Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a freelance journalist. You can reach her at laoiseneylon@gmail.com.

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