Council Briefs: Newmarket Apartments Plan, Merrion Strand Swimming Ban, and More

Plans for Newmarket

On Tuesday, the claw of a big yellow digger swung too and fro, scooping up what’s left of some of the demolished industrial buildings on the northern edge of Newmarket.

Carrey Issuer DAC has sought permission for 413 build-to-rent apartments on the block, mostly made up of studios and one-beds, councillors learnt at last Wednesday’s meeting of their South Central Area Committee.

Of the apartments, 203 would be studios, 136 would be one-beds, 72 would be two-beds, and two would be three-beds, show planning documents. Proposals also show two shops, one cafe or restaurant, and an artists’ studio.

At the meeting, some councillors said they were concerned about the shared facilities, while others asked how the plans linked in with proposals for a hotel on the site next door.

Carrey Issuer DAC is owned by Scarecrow Issuer DAC, according to its most recent annual return. The 2018 accounts for Scarecrow Issuer DAC said that the “controlling party” for the company is Bain Capital DSS 2017 (Ireland) LP registered in the Cayman Islands.

At the local area meeting, independent Councillor Vincent Jackson raised concerns over how suitable the apartments would be, given the health issues and concerns around transmission raised by Covid-19. “Are some of these shared communal facilities?” he asked.

The planning statement refers to “laundry facilities”, as well as “facilities for communal recreation and other activities by residents, including sports facilities, shared TV/lounge areas, work/study spaces” and “function rooms”, roof terraces, and a “semi-public” courtyard.

Apartments should have private amenity space such as balconies – but those can be relaxed for build-to-rent blocks if there’s communal space in exchange, say Department of Housing guidelines.

In this case, Carrey Issuer DAC has asked for that flexibility. Its application says that 13 of the 413 apartments would have private balconies or roof terraces.

“The model proposed in this planning application is based on provision of amenity for the residents principally in the form of a combination of communal amenity areas – outdoor and internal,” it says.

At the meeting, Dublin City Council Executive Planner Liam Currie said that “Each of the apartments are own-door and self-contained with a kitchen and toilet facilities and living room.”

“It does have some shared residential support facilities and residential communal areas,” he said. That’s normal for these kinds of developments, he said.

There would be no creche in the development also, the planning documents say. It “is not considered to generate the required demand that would necessitate the provision of a creche on site”.

There are also enough services and facilities in the area, the application says. (It’s up to developers to audit whether there’s a need for more social infrastructure, which some have said leads to subjective and varied methods.)

Meanwhile, the building’s height would range from six storeys (16.3 metres) on the Newmarket Street side of the complex, to up to 13 storeys (43.6 metres) on the St Luke’s Avenue side.

“Therefore, the height of the proposed building exceeds the maximum height set down in the DCDP [Dublin City Development Plan] for residential use [in this area] (i.e. 24 metres),” the application notes.

However, that shouldn’t be an obstacle given that central government guidelines on building heights overrule the council’s.

As it’s a big site with more than 100 homes, the planning application is being dealt with as a Strategic Housing Development – which means it goes straight to An Bord Pleanála to be decided, rather than council planners. Councillors’ comments are forwarded there.

New Cycling and Pedestrian Bridge

South Central councillors voted to include a proposed pedestrian and cycling bridge into the Dublin City Development Plan 2016–2022.

The planned bridge would connect the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Kilmainham to Chapelizod Road beside the Phoenix Park.

“I’m unclear about the purpose,” said Green Party Councillor Michael Pidgeon, last week, during the South Central Area meeting on Zoom. “I don’t understand where it is linking and what problem it is solving.”

According to a council report, one main aim of the bridge would be “to improve awareness” of the Irish National War Memorial Gardens.

“The proposed bridge will also facilitate the establishment of a new and necessary link within the historic trails of Dublin,” it says.

Bridge design by Ian Ritchie Architects in Dublin City Council report.

Said Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan, at the meeting: “It’s broadening out the accessibility to the memorial gardens not just from Chapelizod but from Drimnagh and Ballyfermot as well so I certainly welcome this.”

The Office for Public Works would provide the majority of funding for the proposed bridge, said Fidelma Fahy, a council planner.

There have long been plans for a bridge over the Liffey. Edwin Lutyens, the architect who designed the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, also envisaged a three-arch bridge spanning the river, says a council report.

“It was postponed due to lack of funding at the time; however, detailed drawings remain of the proposal,” the report says.

The new bridge “will be sympathetic to Lutyens’ original design vision and will retain the same alignment and orientation”, it says.

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) hosted a competition for a new design – with Ian Ritchie Architects winning for a sweeping and simple bridge.

“The bridge will be subject to a separate planning application process at which stage the design and detailed impact will be fully addressed,” says the council report.

While the variation was agreed by South Central Area councillors, the idea will still have to go before the full council for a vote before it’s officially adopted.

No Swimming Again at Merrion Strand

Dublin City Council has to ban swimming at Merrion Strand in Dublin Bay permanently or issue advice against it, it said in a report issued on Tuesday.

Under bathing regulations, if water samples from designated spots are found to be “poor” for five years in a row, a local authority has to issue a notice to ban or advise against swimming.

Dublin City Council is responsible for managing the bathing water quality at Merrion Strand along with two other beaches – Dollymount on the north side and Sandymount on the south side.

Much of the pollution at Merrion Strand is coming from two streams – Elm Park and Trimleston– which flow through Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Dublin City Council areas and then flow onto the beach, the council report says.

To blame are “misconnections where domestic plumbing goes into the wrong pipe” along with other potential sources such as urban wastewater discharges, and bird and dog fouling.

Labour Councillor Kevin Donoghue says that residents are frustrated and disappointed at the news.

“They have had concerns about the strand for a while and it’s been plagued with other issues, such as sewage leaking into Dublin Bay,” he says.

Dublin City Council set up a taskforce last year to focus on improving the bathing water quality at Merrion Strand and Sandymount Strand, including representatives from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report.

Both councils are also working with Irish Water to “address pollution sources related to the wastewater network” according to the Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2019 report.

Donoghue says that all of the parties “need to get the investment into that taskforce, the requisite funding needs to be allocated and they need an action plan”.

The EPA won’t be monitoring Merrion Strand until there is substantial improvement in water quality, he says.

“Once the EPA sees that there’s substantial improvement they’ll look at reclassifying it but that needs to happen as soon as possible.”

A research project, Acclimatize, led by University College Dublin, set up in May 2017 to, among other things, identify the main sources of pollution in the Dublin Bay area is expected to run until June 2023, said the report.

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Stephanie Costello: Stephanie Costello is an editor and city reporter at Dublin Inquirer. To get in contact with her, you can email her on [email protected]

Donal Corrigan: Donal Corrigan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. He covers transport, and the southside. To get in contact with him, you can email him on [email protected]

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