Last month’s County Development Plan meetings discussed a wide range of issues. I’m posting some reports in particular on the motions I submitted. I also supported important motions by my Green colleague Roderic O’Gorman and a range of Councillors from all parties.
The largest batch of motions were those on cycling so I’ll address those first.
One of the results of the public display of the draft plan was the receipt of a range of submissions criticising the inadequacy of the policies contained in the draft as regards cycling.These came from a range of parties, including the National Transport Authority which suggested that the policies in relation to cycling in the plan could be strengthened.
In response to these submissions, I submitted a range of proposed amendments, many of which were directly extracted from the National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF), particularly the policies and actions identified in the Framework for implementation by local authorities.
In advising the Councillors on the motions submitted, the Council management first claimed that many of the motions submitted were invalid as they didn’t relate to submissions received. This label was applied to 15 of the 21 amendments which I proposed based on the NCPF. When I pointed out their origin this claim did not resurface.
When it came to the discussions, the first two cycling related motions were
- to mark the cycle routes from the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan on the Development Plan maps the same as the other cycle routes already proposed
- to provide safe routes to school as part of the process of identifying and procuring new school sites
It was a bit of a surprise that, unfortunately, the Planning Department opposed both of these. The majority of Councillors supported my motion to mark the GDA routes on the maps despite the official advice against it.
However they also opposed my proposal that safe walking and cycling routes would be provided to new schools as part of the school development process and a slim majority of Councillors voted it down. The media, starting with the cycling journalism website Irishcycle.com, naturally took an interest in this and reported it the following week: Irishcycle.com, TheJournal.ie, DublinLive.ie.
At the following meeting, the officials continued to oppose the cycling motions and a number of other important motions were defeated including a proposal to implement HGV management strategies in urban areas, a proposal to carry out remedial measures to existing cyclist unfriendly urban roads and a proposal to provide safe cycling and walking routes to existing schools during the lifetime of the plan including an audit of all schools. These motions were all based on the National Cycle Policy Framework adopted in 2009, but despite that the officials convinced a majority of Councillors to vote them down.
At a subsequent meeting, the media attention to the vote against safe routes to schools started to have an impact and my motions to provide cycle routes from Holywell, Portmarnock and Balgriffin to Kinsealy to serve the proposed new secondary school there and the existing primary schools were all successful. So overall, a mixture of good and bad news.
Proposed greenway style cycle route from Kettle’s Lane to Kinsealy via Abbeville
Proposed greenway style cycle route from Portmarnock to Kinsealy
Proposed greenway style cycle route from Balgriffin to Kinsealy
The amendments to the Draft Plan are on public display until 2nd December. At this stage they are only proposed amendments; they could be overturned following the consultation. So if you agree with any of the amendments, make sure to make a submission!
I’m still following up on the National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) issue. The media reports on the motion for safe routes to schools which was defeated, led to me learning from a member of the public of the existence of Planning Circular_pssp_8_2010_on NCPF_and_development_plans. This circular requires the Council to make the Development Plan consistent with the NCPF.
All of the cycling related motions had already been dealt with when I received the Circular but I immediately drew the attention of the next Council meeting dealing with the Development Plan to the obligations placed on the Council by the Circular. The Council officials were unwilling to recognise that the Circular had any significance to the process or to revisit the issues.
I have written to the Minister for Housing and Planning in relation to this.