Late last year a proposal was brought before the Councillors for a “Forest Adventure Area and Multi-use Reinforced Grass Area.”
In principle I think a canopy walk or similar somewhere in Malahide Demesne could be an excellent proposal. However it would depend on the design and details of the proposal including its environmental impact and its impact on park users.
That information is not available because it doesn’t yet exist.
I pointed out the inadequacies in the information supplied at the December Area Committee meeting, saying I expected that detailed information would be in the proposal put on public display. I didn’t receive a reply to that comment at the meeting and unfortunately it didn’t happen. I also pointed out that they proposal appeared to be two separate and distinct proposals and suggested they be put to consultation separately. The joint proposal was nonethless put on display as presented to the Councillors:
So I checked the applicable legislation to establish what is legally required to be put on display. The regulations provide as follows:
83.(1) A local authority shall make available for inspection in accordance with article 81(2)(d)(i)—
(a) a document describing the nature and extent of the proposed development and the principal features thereof, including-
(i) where the proposed development would consist of or comprise the provision of houses, the number of houses to be provided,
(ii) where proposed development would relate to a protected structure or a proposed protected structure, an indication of that fact,
(iii) where the proposed development would comprise or be for the purposes of an activity requiring an integrated pollution control licence or a waste licence, an indication of that fact,
(b) a location map, drawn to a scale of not less than 1:1000 in built up areas and 1:2500 in all other areas (which shall be identified thereon) and marked or coloured so as to identify clearly the land on which it is proposed to carry out the proposed development,
(c) except in the case of development of a class specified in article 80(1)(b) or (c),—
(i) a site layout plan, drawn to a scale of not less than 1:500, showing the boundary of the site on which it is proposed to carry out the proposed development and the buildings or other structures, and roads or other features, in the vicinity of the site, and
(ii) such other plans and drawings, drawn to a scale of not less than 1:100, as are necessary to describe the proposed development,
(d) in the case of development of a class specified in article 80(1)(b), such plans and drawings drawn to a scale of not less than 1:2500, as are necessary to describe the proposed development,
(e) in the case of development of a class specified in article 80(1) (c), such plans and drawings drawn to a scale of not less than 1:200, as are necessary to describe the proposed development.
The requirements which I have highlighted in bold have not been met.
At the May Area Committee meeting I asked the officials to confirm that the above is the applicable legislation, which they did. The Committee then agreed to my proposal to ask the Law Agent for advice, to be received before the June meeting. As of today (Monday 30th May) that advice has not yet been received by the Councillors.
The Parks Department have confirmed that they are trying to get an approval before the design is done.
It is clear to me that it would not be legal for the Councillors to give Part 8 approval to a project which hasn’t been designed and for which the information required to be put on public display has not been made available. I will be most surprised if the Law Agent advises otherwise.
It may be less convenient, but the correct procedure, as for any one else making another type of planning application, is to produce a design, put that design on display and make a decision on the basis of the design and the public consultation.
As for the Car Park extension, this was originally presented to Councillors as a multi-use area. It later became clear from the Planning Department that they see it as a car park extension. Such a proposal should only be considered, if at all, in the context of overall changes to traffic and parking in the town – which to date have not been proposed.
UPDATE 31st May:
This afternoon the Councillors received the Law Agent’s advice which sets out the legal requirements which have not been met and warns that going ahead with the project would be vulnerable to legal challenge. I expect that the current process will be abandoned.
I hope the Parks Department will continue to work on the idea of a forest adventure area with a view to coming up with a clear proposal which everyone would welcome.
UPDATE 1st July:
The Councillors at the June Howth/Malahide Area Committee voted 5 to 3 against approving the project, all of the majority asking for the two proposals to be separated from each other and for proper design and analysis to be done on the forest adventure area, which we all would like to see in principle.
The Parks Department have indicated that notwithstanding the vote at the Area Committee, they will be asking the full Council meeting on 11th July to approve the project.