Finnstown fury

By Maurice Garvey

SINCE 2004, residents in the Finnstown area of Lucan have engaged with planners regarding various developments at a site on a prime piece of land across the road from Finnstown Castle Hotel.

By 2017, developer Pat Crean’s Marlet group subsidiary Crekav Trading GP, was seeking planning permission for 94 homes at the Coolamber development on Newcastle Road (adjacent to the Lord Lucan pub).

Finnstown Residents 1

Many suspect that plans for social housing were in the mix

The Part V proposal contained a minimum 10 per cent social housing provision.

Resident associations’ submissions to the planning proposals were largely supportive of the need for housing, bar some standard traffic and height concerns.

A group of residents met Pat Crean in a consultation and were happy with what they heard.

In May 2017, planning permission for the development was granted by South Dublin County Council.

However, in March 2018, for sale signs went up at the site.

This set off alarm bells for residents, and as construction work began, rumours started circulating in the community that the development was instead going to be 100 per cent social housing.

Efforts to find out what was happening from the local authority led nowhere.

Carrying out their own investigation, residents discovered the land had changed hands between developers Crevak and Torca Ltd.

 “Everything was very hush-hush, not a single word or one scintilla of information from SDCC,” said John Coleman, a Finnstown resident.

In May, another resident talked directly to the foreman on site, receiving confirmation that the development was bought by Respond Housing for 100 per cent social housing.

This was confirmed by Respond to the resident on the phone, and subsequently by the approved housing body to The Echo this week, stating they have “entered into contract to purchase these 94 homes for social housing using CALF and Housing Finance Agency (HFA) funding.”

Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF), assists approved housing bodies in accessing funds for the purchase of houses for social housing.

 “We were dumbfounded to discover this change in plan,” said Coleman.

“The mission statement for SDCC openly states a progressive mix. Why bother going through the rigours of the planning process when it is a complete waste of time, in this case, for all of 14 years.”

Finnstown residents suspect the plans for social housing were in the mix prior to the site being sold in July 2018.

The Echo asked SDCC questions about the development – they responded that the council are “not involved in land sales and do not have any comment to make.”

Coolamber site Lucan 2 1

Residents dumbfounded at change of plans for 100 per cent social housing

In response to a further question enquiring if there is a mechanism for informing residents of a significant change in plan, SDCC said the Part V planning permission was “not altered so it would be incorrect to say there was a significant change in the plans.”

The spokesperson said: “Part V requires a minimum 10 per cent social housing provision within a development but the planning permission relates to the number and type (1/2/3 bed etc., semi-detached, terraced, duplex, etc etc.) of houses rather than the tenure (save for the minimum Part V specified percentage). There are no proposed changes to the original planning application as part of this project.”

Finnstown residents disagree, arguing that Part V planning “means absolutely nothing.”

Mr Coleman continued: “An approved housing body can come in and do whatever they want. Communities close to any sites that are currently starting the planning process need to be very careful.

“We feel the very least that should have happened was all registered interested parties on the planning application should have been notified on what was a significant material change in the plan.

“We are also of the opinion that 100 per cent social housing developments have failed in the past and are an outdated model for progressive communities to develop in the future. The housing crisis is not just a social housing issue. Equally important is affordable housing. There was no attempt to tie this development into the Rebuilding Ireland initiative.”

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