Cycling campaigners challenge ‘Connolly Quarter’ permission over car park above railway tracks

IMAGE: The new car park is planned to be built over the tracks and under the new buildings on the left of the above image (Photomontage from theconnollyquartershd1.ie).

— Developers claim car park above railway do not need planning permission.

Planning permission for Connolly Quarter, a housing development on the grounds of Dublin’s Connelly Station, is being challenged in the High Court by the Dublin Cycling Campaign because it says planners failed to assess a new car park which is part of the development.

Developers Oxley Holdings and Ballymore was last month granted ‘fast-tracked’ permission by An Bord Pleanála for the overall Connolly Quarter Strategic Housing Development.

As IrishCycle.com reported last month, the developers claimed that 135 new car parking spaces to be built above railway tracks does not need planning permission. The An Bord Pleanála inspector agreed with the developer, but the board of An Bord Pleanála did not mention the car park the documents which form the planning permission approval.

Kevin Baker, chairperson of Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “It is our contention that An Bord Pleanála erred in law by not assessing one of the proposed car parks included in the application. An Bord Pleanála has set a dangerous precedent regarding what type of development requires planning permission.”

“By excluding these new car parking spaces from the site notice many members of the public will be completely unaware that the developer proposes to construct them,” he said in a press release issued this afternoon.

Baker added: “Reducing excessive city centre car parking is a key objective of our road safety strategy. We want Dublin to be a vibrant city, not one clogged by congestion and emissions. It should not have been left to a small charity to challenge the legality of this decision when Dublin City Council strongly echoed our concerns to An Bord Pleanála”, said Mr Baker.

In its press release, the Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “It is unlikely that Dublin City Council would grant permission for a new city centre public car park, particularly one without any new public bicycle parking. This is the policy of the Dublin City Development Plan agreed by the elected city councillors.”

IMAGE: The lack of bicycle parking for rail users planned on the Irish Rail / CIE site is in stark contrast to developments in the Netherlands. For example, Utrecht Centraal station has 21,000 public bicycle spaces run by the railway, one unit of 12,500 spaces has bicycle paths within it (as pictured).

As IrishCycle.com also reported last month, the development will not include public bicycle parking for the train station. This is despite it being national and local policy to provide bicycle parking hubs at train station and the development being planned at the busiest train station in the country.

The developer had claimed in planning documents that it must built the new car park as part of its agreement with CIE, the State transport company which manages land used by Irish Rail and other State transport companies.

Dublin City Council, in its submission as part of the Strategic Housing Development process, said that it has serious concerns in relation to the undesirable precedent that such a decision would set in terms of the suggestion that compliance with a legal agreement between a developer and CIE would take precedence over the requirement for planning permission

The 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.”

The council 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.”

Dublin Cycling Campaign is a registered charity run on a voluntary basis. It is being represented by FP Logue Solicitors and John Kenny BL.

According to the Irish Examiner, Justice Denis McDonald granted the Dublin Cycling Campaign leave for the judicial review and the case is due back before the court on April 30.

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.

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