Council Briefs: Housing in Rathgar, Free Wifi, the Pendulum Summit, and More

The Pendulum Summit

Dublin City Council gave €35,000 to sponsor the Pendulum Summit this year, a council spokesperson has said.

In exchange, the council got “some tickets and brand visibility both during the Summit and in all advance publicity”. Clients of Dublin’s Local Enterprise Office “who are early stage start-ups, business and entrepreneurs” were given these tickets, they said.

Part of the council’s role is “to promote the visibility of Dublin as a dynamic, engaged and supportive destination, both domestically and internationally, to live, work visit and invest”, they said. To do that, it supports many projects and events.

More than 7,000 people came to the summit in 2019, with 30 percent of them from outside of Ireland, they said. ”Research from the event organisers indicates that these attendees are worth on average €1,600 to the local economy,” they said. “This is particularly welcome to the business of Dublin in the fallow period of trading immediately after Christmas.”

Housing in Rathgar

Some councillors at Monday’s meeting of Dublin City Council’s South East Area Committee said they were worried about a new application for apartments at the Marianella complex at Orwell Road in Rathgar.

The plans from developer Cairn Homes are for 107 homes in two additional blocks – and because that’s more than 100 homes, the application for planning permission scoots straight to An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the council.

But councillors can weigh in – and that’s why Executive Planner Neasa Moylan gave the presentation at Monday’s meeting, she said: to get their feedback to send to An Bord Pleanála.

It’s a big change to 107 apartments from 22 houses, which is what had previously been approved for the site, said Fine Gael Councillor Anne Feeney.

“So I think this is a worrying concern generally in terms of developments. It’s not minor, it’s major, and there is a big impact in terms of the surrounding area in terms of the scale, parking issues, the visual impact, etcetera,” she said.

The An Bord Pleanála inspector’s report says the proposed project would include 39 one-bed apartments and 68 two-beds in a six-storey block and a five-storey block. It would have 72 car-parking spaces and and 168 bicycle-parking spaces.

“We are concerned that open space is disappearing,” said Labour Party Councillor Mary Freehill.

The inspector’s report says there would be 2,585 sqm of “public open space” in the project, and 845 sqm of “communal open space”. But open space in the plans is split up in smaller parcels, rather than kept in one large open space for community use, Freehill Says.

Property developers are usually expected to commit to sell 10 percent of the housing they build on large sites to local authorities for use as social housing.

Both Councillor Dermot Lacey of the Labour Party and independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said that apartments in the new blocks offered to the council for use as social housing shouldn’t be segregated from the apartments that will remain privately owned.

The social housing wouldn’t be all on the ground-floor of a single block, said Moylan.

Flynn said he was worried about this proposal from Cairn, given other proposed changes in the area, too. Where is the provision for the influx of cars and of people into the area? he asked.

“There’s going to be a lot of activity in this area and it’s in that context that I would caution around this,” he said.

Free Wifi

The EU announced in November that Dublin city was among the 2,800 municipalities across Europe to win funds to set up wifi hotspots. In fact, it recommended giving four €15,000 “vouchers” for the purpose to Dublin city.

At Monday’s meeting, the South East Area Committee agreed a motion from Fine Gael Councillor Anne Feeney that the council consider using EU funding to put a wifi hotspot in at least one of the South East Area’s urban villages.

In other words, hubs such as Rathmines, Rathgar, Terenure, Harold’s Cross, Crumlin, Ranelagh, Donnybrook, Ballsbridge, Sandymount, Irishtown or Ringsend. The aim would be to facilitate free wi-fi for shoppers and visitors – and attract more of them.

“Dublin City Council are starting to look into how can we better provide facilities to engage with teenagers,” she said, “and this is probably fitting with that strategy.”

Swan Leisure ownership

At the same meeting, Labour’s Mary Freehill put forward a motion for council managers to clarify the ownership of grounds related to the Swan Leisure development in Rathmines, a motion that was seconded by Fianna Fáil Councillor Claire O’Connor.

Both councillors are members of the Swan Leisure centre’s board.

The centre was built by John Paul Construction, in a public-private partnership with Dublin City Council. John Paul retained air rights, while the council retained ownership of the land, according to Freehill’s motion.

Going forward, ownership regarding any future development is unclear. But that should be clarified, said independent Councillor Mannix Flynn.

“It’s very important that the ground is in the hands of Dublin City Council and that the full details of that contract and the public private partnership deal is actually known by this committee particularly to the members of the board of the leisure centre,” he said.

Area Manager Brian Hanney committed to arranging a meeting between the council’s Development Department and councillors Freehill and O’Connor to clarify ownership in advance of any future development. It was agreed that this would happen in the next two weeks.

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