A large potential housing development flagged for land located between Castleknock and Lucan has been heavily criticised by several local politicians.
The project is being progressed by businessmen JP McManus, John Magnier and Michael O’Flynn who want to build around 5,000 homes on the Liffey Valley – a strictly protected environmental area.
The land in question, which is about 860 acres, is divided by the River Liffey with larger of the two plots on the north side, which surrounds Luttrellstown Castle and golf course.
The site south of the river, called the St Edmundsbury lands, is located between St Edmundsbury Hospital and the Hermitage golf club is currently used for farmland and was purchased by McManus and Magnier in 2013.
However, before the planning permission for the project can be filed, the land must be rezoned for housing – a step which has already been questioned by councillors in South Dublin County Council and Fingal County Council.
Labour councillor for Castleknock, John Walsh says that he is “sceptical” the rezoning will be passed by elected representatives and will be “opposing” the proposal.
“We have heard that several other councillors are saying the same thing so I am hopeful that it won’t go ahead,” he says.
Overall, Walsh says the proposal is “disastrous” as the Liffey Valley is extremely “sensitive” and has significant “heritage value.”
“There is a great deal of land rezoned for housing in west Dublin,” he says.
“Permission has been for awarded for many developments but they have not been started.”
“These environmentally sensitive land banks cannot be developed on.
“You wouldn’t try and develop on Phoenix Park, so why would you develop on the Liffey Valley,” he says.
Fine Gael Senator and former Final councillor Emer Currie has also criticised the development saying that the valley needs to be protected.
“The Liffey Valley is officially recognised by the Department of the Environment and Climate Action as a Special Amenity Area, an area of exceptional natural heritage and special recreational value, like North Bull Island and Howth Head,” she said.
“I fully accept more homes are needed.
“We urgently need more housing and there are areas in west Dublin that can and should be used, including Kellystown and Barnhill Local Area Plans, Hansfield and Clonburris Strategic Development Zones.
“But there are also lands that need to be protected. An area that is recognised as a Special Amenity Area must remain so.
“Let’s build more homes, but also, let’s protect our heritage and areas of outstanding beauty for future generations,” Senator Currie said.
Independent Lucan councillor Liona O’Toole said that the Liffey Valley has been given a Special Amenity Area Order (SAAO), “for very good reasons.”
“Many before me have work tirelessly to protect these lands and I will continue to ensure they stay protected.
“To see any attempt to rezone these lands would not be accepted by anyone I’ve spoken with, or from my observations from the general public’s reaction to this news,” she says.
O’Toole also echoed Walsh’s statement, saying that councillors “have been told we have enough land zoned for housing – and I believe same for Fingal side.
“I hope this will be the end of any proposals on these lands.
“If developers were looking to gauge the public’s reaction I hope they read it for what it is, although time will tell if they pursue it further.”
Lucan Labour councillor Joanna Tuffy says that “we don’t need more land to be rezoned in the county for housing.
“There already is enough zoned land to last for several more years.”
She also says that is “very important” to “preserve and protect the landscapes of the Liffey Valley and to keep green belts between South Dublin and Fingal and also between towns in both counties.
“Green belts are like lungs for Dublin city and county.”