Mount Merrion is a settled suburb of around 5,000 residents in about 1,500 dwellings, which range from bungalows to 3 bedrooms semi-detached to 5 bedroom detached houses. Built in the 1930’s and 1950’s this mature settled residential suburb is experiencing a number of planning applications and major developments promoted by development companies who have no involvement with the local community and no understanding or appreciation of the rich cultural, architectural and historic heritage of this area. The Mount Merrion Residents Association (MMRA), which has over 800 members and residents accept that the sites concerned have been zoned residential and welcome developments that are sympathetic to the local environment and blend aesthetically with the existing architecture and topography. The MMRA is sympathetic to the current housing crisis but firmly believes that the crisis will not be solved by dotting a small number of high-rise developments in mature settled areas, which only serves to enrich a small number of speculative developers.
The MMRA and residents have a number of serious concerns arising from current and proposed development plans for the area:
- The immense increase in the proposed number of residential units, up to 90 on two small sites which if approved will increase by 80% the number of homes currently situated on Wilson Road and Deerpark Road. These are two of the narrowest roads in Mount Merrion and already suffer from traffic gridlock at peak traffic times in the vicinity of the Union Café, the location of the most extensive proposed residential and commercial development. The proposed high-rise developments, which are beside a school playground and church will add to the traffic chaos and represents a serious safety risk to residents, young school going children and infants.
- The proposed high-rise developments in this low rise settled area results in a serious loss of privacy, reduced quality of life and damages the local environment, the amenity of local residents and the value of homeowners properties, who work all their lives to pay off expensive mortgages.
- The blatant disregard by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) planners of height restrictions in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Development Plan, having approved a partial six storey apartment block in this low rise areas without justification.
- The fact that An Bord Pleanála at a very small sitting ignored/overruled the advice of their own detailed Inspector’s Report at the stroke of a pen (ref: PL 06D.245755).
- The lack of accountability and transparency at An Bord Pleanála who have the ability to overrule the detailed advice of their own planners at a small sitting. In such a case we believe that there should be a higher burden requiring a larger sitting, more detailed publicly available reasoning and perhaps a further inspectors report.
- Conflict of interest of DLR CC as a planning entity because it is in their financial interest to increase the number of residential units which generates additional construction levies and property taxes.
- Complete lack of democracy in local planning since County Councillors no longer have any role or input into planning decisions.
If the proposed developments proceed and the DLRCC planners continue with their current policy of pursuing residential density beyond any other consideration, then the very fabric of the community will be irreparably damaged. In a number of well-attended resident’s meetings over the past several weeks the vast majority of residents support the MMRA’s position to accept developments that fit with the topography and architecture of the area and harmonises with existing neighbouring structures. These views were shared by our public representatives Shane Ross, Minister for Transport and Sports, Josepha Madigan TD, Senator Gerry Horkan, Barry Saul Chairman DLR CC, Deirdre Donnelly MCC, Liam Dockery MCC, and other Planning and Architectural specialists.