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Dublin: 1 °C Thursday 27 November, 2014

Greystones Harbour ‘building site’ remains in limbo as developer dismisses community plan

A pivotal town council meeting is taking place this evening, where town council members will decide whether to accept the Sisk or community plan.

The area Sisk plans to grass is shown in the photo. Access to the North Pier would be available only from the North Beach.
The area Sisk plans to grass is shown in the photo. Access to the North Pier would be available only from the North Beach.

THE PEOPLE OF Greystones who have been living with the “building site” of Greystones Harbour for the past six years have had another set back after the community plan they put forward for the area was dismissed by the developer.

The site in the picturesque Wicklow town has been in legal and political limbo ever since the the economic crash when development plans which included 370 apartments, a medical centre and park lands, all fell through.

‘Give us back our harbour’

Last month, local resident groups and local councillors presented their interim plan for what could be done with the site. Independent Councillor Tom Fortune gave a presentation of their community plan that he said would have a net cost of €300,000.

Following the meeting in which the community put forward plans for tidying up the derelict harbour area, Fortune expressed astonishment at the reply sent to Greystones Town council.

Representatives of Sisk attended the meeting and agreed to take a look at the community proposals, he said.

However, a letter seen by Councillor Fortune states that they have not costed the development and have instead offered to carry out their own works on the site, which he said are not satisfactory.

Fortune said he was disappointed that the developer had not costed their plans, despite promising to at the last meeting.

Gone on too long

“Personally, I am not satisfied with their response. Our plan is a good interim plan that will improve the area until the developer has the money to move on with the overall development. We have given them something that is very precise, that can satisfy both the developer and the community. This has gone on for too long and as someone very much involved in Wicklow tourism, I can say without a doubt that this has seriously damaged tourism to Greystones”.

Residents are displeased at Sisk’s response to their plan, and are even more displeased with the developer’s plan which includes putting the hoarding that once surrounded the site, back up.

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Photo of the harbour in July 2013 (Credit: Give us back our harbor Facebook page)

Speaking to TheJournanl.ie, Councillor Tom Fortune said that the legend on the developer’s plans clearly shows that hoarding is to go back up.”The Greystones residents campaigned for years to have the unsightly hoarding removed, and now they want to put it back up”.

Strung along

Councillor Grainne McLoughlin said that the Sisk plans gives no timeframe as to when they plan to develop the site, leaving the residents in limbo once again. She said: “SISK agreed to come on board for the strategic plan for Greystones, to do that they cannot string everyone along with maybe this and perhaps that promises.”

Over the last few years, the harbour, which was once meant to be an attractive, modern development that attracted tourists to the area became a building site, with hoarding erected around the harbour.

The community decided they had had enough and decided to take matters into their own hands and set up the ‘Give Back Our Harbour‘ group which is campaigning for something to be done to improve the site, stating that the community’s quality of life and business in the area has been “drastically affected”.

Locals said it was not fair for a developer to effectively “hold the town to ransom” by sealing of the harbour and a portion of the coastline due to lack of funds on their part. Much of the hoarding that was put up was removed following their lobbying.

Over a month ago, Stephen Donnelly, Independent TD for Wicklow and East Carlow, joined with councillor Tom Fortune and local interest groups and residents to create the interim community plan to open up Greystones Harbour fully and landscape the derelict building site.

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Photo of the harbour in July 2013 (Credit: Give us back our harbor Facebook page)

Fenced off

The interim plan would see the lands around the harbour and the land that has been fenced off for six years now blocking normal access to the North Beach would be opened up.

Stephen Donnelly TD said that even before the development 91 per cent of the locals were against it back in 2008, when it was first proposed. He said he had been disappointed with how some council members didn’t seem to weigh in behind the residents.

He said that it was of vital importance to open up the North Beach area, stating blocking off access has “left an empty building site at the foot of the cliff walk”.

Donnelly also urged everyone to sign his petition, that he hoped would put pressure on the developers to adopt their plan.

In September, Fine Gael Councillor Derek Mitchell said in a press release that Stephen Donnelly’s plan was “only a dream”, stating that the plan would cost in the region of €13 million and wanted to know where the funding would come from.

‘Dream without facts’

“I have offered to explain them to Deputy Donnelly  but he seems to prefer to dream without facts,” he stated.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, he said he believed that the community plans would cost a lot more than €300,000. He said that Sisk are eager to develop the site in some form, and although it might not be the original plan, he said he hoped that the apartments would be constructed.

Stephen Donnelly said he respected Cllr Mitchell, but said he is just trying to proactively do something to better the town.

A pivotal town council meeting is taking place this evening, which the Greystones Harbour group is urging all local residents to attend.

On their website, they state that tonight “members of the Town Council will have to decide whether to accept this miserly approach by Sisk, or to press on with a united campaign to have the Community Plan implemented. The large public presence last month provided tremendous encouragement to the council to stick with the public and to demand more, much more, from Sisk”.

Tonight’s meeting is taking place at Greystone’s Town Council offices at 7.30 pm.

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Photo of the Sisk harbour plan (Credit: Give us back our harbor Facebook page)

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