Connolly Quarter developer claims car park over railway tracks does not need planning permission

IMAGE: Photomontage from theconnollyquartershd1.ie.

— Fear legal agreement on car park is taken over planning permission need.
— Council points out current car park not on third floor above tracks.
— Road Safety Audit did not evaluated operation of car ramp said council.
ALSO READ: No bicycle parking for Connolly Station

LONG READ: A developer seeking to build ‘fast-tracked’ housing on the grounds of Connolly Station in Dublin has argued that building a new car park elevated over a railway siding is exempted development, which does not need planning permission.

IMAGE: Extracts of the planning files showing the new CIE car park over the railway and under the new buildings.

The overall Connolly Quarter Strategic Housing Development, which is being developed by Oxley Holdings and Ballymore, was granted permission by An Bord Pleanála earlier this month.

The development is on lands owned by CIE, the on the grounds of Connolly Station, mainly on the existing station car park and over railway sidings. It will include 741 apartments.

The developer argued that as part of its agreement with CIE, that 135 car parking spaces needs to be provided for CIE / Irish Rail use as part of the Strategic Housing Development, with a further 45 car parking spaces to be provided for CIE in a subsequent non-fast-tracked application for the commercial elements of the site — meaning a total of 180 space would be provided for CIE across site.

IMAGE: The location of the car park over the tracks and under the apartment blocks. Also shown is the fire tender ramp to the train station.

Effectively the developer claimed that because there is existing car parking on the site where the housing is being built that they can build a new car park elevated above railway sidings without permission. The developer asked for the new car park not to be considered by the planning body to be part of the development.

It led to the situation that the new car park was not shown or only partly shown in the drawings of the planning application. As Dublin City Council noted in its submission to An Bord Pleanála on the Strategic Housing Development application: “The architectural drawings for the scheme show the two way ramp as fire tender access only. However, the OCSC engineering drawings show this ‘fire tender only’ two way ramp as serving the third floor CIE car parking spaces while not actually providing a detailed layout from route of ramp into car park.”

Dublin City Council said that the new CIE car park should be subject of a separate planning application, while the An Bord Pleanála inspector agreed with the developer. However, the situation remains unclear as the An Bord Pleanála order and direction which granted the permission did not make any apparent reference to the CIE car park.

Separately, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for 58 car parking spaces in the development’s basement on the basis that the spaces be reserved for car share use only.

The development will have 1,406 covered bicycle parking spaces for residents and visitors — these will spaces will be provided partly in the basement accessible via a two-way cycle path, and, on the ground floor, behind retail and community space units accessible via a public square. The provision is said in planning files to exceed the minimum standards set out in the 2018 planning guidelines for the housing aspect of the development.

ALSO READ: No bicycle parking for Connolly Station

Legal opinion and disagreement on the CIE car park

IMAGE: Photomontage from Oriel Street, image from theconnollyquartershd1.ie.

The proposed access ramp to the underground residential parking, the CIE parking and fire tender access to the train station will be located Oriel Street Upper.

A legal opinion attached to the planning application by the developer, written by barrister Michael O’ Donnell, states: “It should however be noted that these existing arrangements do not form part of the application proposal to be made. The existing car park is the subject of the agreement, is a valid and subsisting operation and there is no requirement that, and indeed it would be inappropriate that these arrangements be included with the application. The existing established use proposed is not included in the application nor it is necessary that it be included because the necessary authorisation to allow this activity is already in place.”

In its submission, Dublin City Council said: “…it is noted that the development description does not include reference to the provision of car parking for CIE. This parking is not included within the development description. However, drawing no. 0107 prepared by OCSC Consulting Engineers illustrates an indicative layout of these spaces. Furthermore the legal opinion prepared by Michael O’ Donnell refers to the use of these parking spaces as a commercial car park.

It continued: “The planning authority has serious concerns in relation to the approach adopted within the application in relation to the CIE car parking spaces. The existing use of the site to accommodate CIE parking is noted however such parking is not currently provided at 3rd floor level overhanging the CIE railway sidings. The provision of car parking at this location constitutes development in the opinion of the planning authority and has potential impacts in terms of compatibility with the proposed development which has not been identified within the application documentation to the satisfaction of the planning authority.”

It added: “Furthermore the planning authority would have serious concerns in relation to the undesirable precedent that such a decision would set in terms of the suggestion that compliance with a legal covenant would take precedence over the requirement for planning permission. Serious concerns are raised within the Transportation Planning Report in relation to the proposed access arrangements for the CIE car park as set out within the application documentation. In the instance that planning permission is granted for the development it is recommended that this parking should be omitted.”

In its part of the submission, the transport section of the council said: “While it is has been stated that this car park is existing and in full operation, its proposed redevelopment of part of the Masterplan and continuation to operate within its current model (i.e. as a commercial commuter car park) would be contrary to City Development Plan policy and not acceptable to this division.”

The council said that the traffic light system to control one ramp to serve as both exit and entrance to the 58 car parking spaces in the basement “will generate extensive queuing through the pedestrian plaza, across a cycle track and fire tender access and on to the adjacent road network, thereby creating unacceptable traffic impact and a traffic hazard”.

The council also noted that the development’s Road Safety Audit did not evaluated the operation of the ramp access and basement car park.

An Bord Pleanála inspector said: A total of 135 no. car parking spaces are to be relocated from the existing surface
car park to a deck level to serve CIE. The submitted details state that the development agreement pertaining to the site requires 180 no. spaces to be maintained for CIE’s use and that this is ‘a restrictive covenant’ on the site. Further
spaces will be relocated for CIE use under the future Section 34 application.”

The inspector added: “The Report of the PA’s Transportation Section states that the applicant has failed to provide details on the operation of the existing CIE car park and that its continuance as a commercial commuter car park would be contrary to Development Plan policy. However, the applicant argues that the CIE car park is a long-established use at this location and that the proposed development effectively rationalises and consolidates the car parking provision within the site. I would accept the argument presented by the applicant. The relocation and rationalisation of the existing spaces facilitates the redevelopment and regeneration of the site for urban land uses.”

The order and direction from the board of An Bord Pleanála does not seem to reference the CIE car park in any way.

ALSO READ: No bicycle parking for Connolly Station

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

2 Comments

  1. No one cares. Stop blocking much needed developments for stupid reasons.

  2. @Adam, you don’t care, that doesn’t mean nobody cares. As for blocking it, not sure how this article blocks the housing which already has permission?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: