South-west of the city, in the leafy suburbs, former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave had a one-story house called Beechpark, set on 5.2 hectares of land.
Cosgrave died in 2017. Two years later, the developer Ardstone Homes Ltd filed a planning application to build 590 homes on the site, mostly build-to-rent apartments.
Valerie Humphreys had been hoping to get something small for the area out of the development, she said last Thursday.
She lives south across Scholarstown Road and had always had to skirt around Cosgrave’s estate to get to the things on the other side, she said.
She was looking forward to being able to amble through Two Oaks and on up into the council’s grassy Dargle Park and beyond.
“This route would offer a pleasant alternative way to walk/cycle to the shops from [the] Woodfield, Scholarstown Wood and Orlagh [housing estates] with fewer/easier road crossings,” she’d said by email earlier.
But, although that path was part of the planning application, and Two Oaks is now built, the route remains closed with a big breeze-block wall.
Developer Ardstone says it’s not at fault.
Plan for permeability
The traffic and transport assessment report that Ardstone submitted with its planning application mentioned the plan for the link between Two Oaks and Dargle Park.
“The development provides … the facilitation of a pedestrian connection from the north-east corner of the subject site to the public open space in Dargle Park”, it says.
The National Transport Authority’s one-page letter focuses on the importance of this link.
“The NTA recommends that in the event of a grant of permission, a condition is attached that requires the pedestrian and cycle link to the open space close to Dargle Wood to be provided as part of the development,” it says.
“This would enhance the permeability of the proposed development, providing a more direct link for pedestrians and cyclists to Templeroan Road and Sancta Maria College,” the NTA letter says.
“It would also provide a more direct link for some future residents to Knocklyon Shopping Centre,” it says.
A submission on behalf of the Dargle Woods Residents Association and the Scholarstown Park Residents Association notes the plan for this link, but does not object to it. These two housing estates abut the proposed location of the link.
Despite all this, the link is blocked off with a cement wall.
“To have permeability in the proposal and then to come and see that there was a wall was a bit of a shock,” Humphreys said.
Playing with her two small boys at the playground in the middle of Two Oaks on Thursday, Jess Hughes said it’s a shame the wall’s there.
“There’s loads of nice fields up there [in Dargle Park],” she said, as one boy sat on a seesaw and the other on a swing. “But you can’t get to them from here.”
She’d have to wheel the boys back out of Two Oaks’ front gate, and go around the perimeter of the complex to get there.
The wall was there long before Ardstone bought the land, a spokesperson for the developer said by email on Friday. Satellite images on Google Earth Pro confirm this.
“As part of our planning permission we were obliged to provide the infrastructure for a pedestrian and cycle link between Two oaks and Dargle Park which we have done up to the extent of our ownership,” the spokesperson said.
“In order for the link to become active works are required to Dargle Park which falls outside our ownership and does not form part of our application,” he said.
The wall itself belongs to Ardstone, development director Mark Forrest said by phone on Tuesday.
But if they tore it down, the path from Two Oaks wouldn’t quite link up to the path in Dargle Park that runs by the wall.
The most recent Google Earth image of the area, from August 2022, shows Two Oaks under construction and a broad swath of Dargle Park from the wall to Templeroan Road all dug up.
South Dublin County Council has not responded to queries about the wall sent Thursday.
“It seems to me that, if we are ever to achieve anything even approaching the 15-minute city and get people out of cars, these barriers are inappropriate and need to be challenged,” Humphreys said.