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The Department of Education has acquired the land of the former greyhound stadium Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
planning issues

'There will be chaos': Locals object to plans for school on site of former Harold's Cross greyhound stadium

Dublin City Council granted permission but the decision has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

LOCALS HAVE APPEALED a decision from Dublin City Council (DCC) to build a school on the grounds of the old Harold’s Cross greyhound stadium, amid fears that it would have a “highly detrimental on [the] standard of living in the area”.

The site – which has been acquired by the government – is proposed to house a much larger school in the future, but the council granted permission for the existing plans of a temporary two-storey, 12 classroom school for a period of five years.

While DCC imposed a number of restrictions on the permission it granted, including the noise levels of building work and street cleaning during demolition and construction, but a number of locals have grouped together to submit detailed proposals as to why it shouldn’t go ahead.

Out with old, in with the new

The greyhound stadium had been in operation for nearly 90 years, with the first race taking place in 1928, but closed with immediate effect in February 2017.

The Irish Greyhound Board said that the decision to close down was taken “with regret” but that the legacy of a €20 million debt burden necessitated its sale.

The site had been flagged for development by the Department of Education last year, with a price tag of €23 million attached to it.

The department announced last month then that the transaction was shortly set to come through.

Minister Richard Bruton said he was “very happy” to have secured the Harold’s Cross site.

The department had already submitted a planning application in December 2017 for an initial temporary school.

The application said: “The development will consist of the provision of a temporary, two-storey primary school comprising 12 classrooms and ancillary teacher and pupil facilities, located at the southern end of the overall former greyhound stadium site.

The development will include the provision of an internal vehicular turning circle, two universal access car parking spaces, a shared vehicular/pedestrian/cycle route within the site, internal pathways, bicycle and scooter parking, and hard and soft play areas.

The proposals also included access via the existing site entrance on Harold’s Cross road and via a pedestrian entrance gate at the southern boundary of the site on Grosvenor Lane.

Furthermore, the proposed temporary school would be “car-free” and have no dedicated on-site staff car parking or pupil drop-off zones.

This initial development for the site, however, is only part of the “masterplan vision for the site”, submitted in documents by planners on behalf of the department.

The plan is for the site to eventually become a 1,000 pupil secondary school and a 24-classroom primary school.

It said: “The design of the permanent school building will have due regard to its relationship with the neighbouring residential properties and will be subject to a separate, future planning application.”

Objections

In the month after the initial planning notice, DCC received 19 third party letters over the proposals.

The objectors listed a number of reasons as to why they were opposed to the development, with the proposed pedestrian entrance on Grosvenor Lane a particular bone of contention.

grosvenor lane The proposed entrance is on Grosvenor Lane Google Maps Google Maps

For example, the Leinster Place Residents Association said: “We object strenuously to this aspect of the plan on the basis that this is wholly unacceptable due to the limited capacity of the footpaths and roads leading into Grosvenor Lane and the disproportionately negative impact this will have on the residents of Leinster Place.”

They said that a number of pedestrian access points on the Harold’s Cross Road would be the only way for pupils, parents and teachers to access the site.

leinster place Narrow road of Leinster Place is next to Grosvenor Lane Google Maps Google Maps

Another objector said they believed traffic chaos would reign as a result of the plans.

They said: “I envision most parents driving up Grosvenor Lane and pulling in wherever they can, to escort their children through the proposed pedestrian gate.

There will be chaos, and will be dangerous. Calling a public school vehicle-free does not make it so… it’s a nice idea but this plan simply moves the inevitable traffic congestion from one area to another, most ill-suited to take it.

Planning appeal

Additional information on the travel plan for the school was supplied by consultants on behalf of the department in March. DCC has asked for more feedback on a number of aspects of the plan on which residents complained, including the potential for traffic congestion on Grosvenor Lane from parents dropping off their children.

Planning permission was then granted in April 2018.

On 18 May, however, appeals were lodged by An Bord Pleanála by a number of parties still opposed to the development.

Locals even enlisted the services of a consultancy firm to analyse the proposals independently.

Its report concludes: “Given that it is impossible to make Grosvenor Lane compliant with requirements of traffic management and road safety, there is a simple solution to ensure the safety and comfort for all who wish to access the school campus, and that is for all children and staff members to enter the school campus via the most direct route, i.e. main Harold’s Cross Road and Harold’s Cross entrance gate.”

Two other locals of Leinster Place wrote: “Both Leinster Place and Grosvenor Lane are single lane roads, which are barely adequate to support existing residential traffic. Indeed, when two cars must pass each other on the section of Grosvenor Lane leading to Leinster Road, at least one vehicle must mount the kerb to allow room to pass.

This would not be safe or feasible if there were heavy pedestrian traffic on the footpath… This poses a serious threat to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, particularly if there were hundreds of commuting children relying on this route.

An Bord Pleanála said the case is due to be decided by 17 September this year.

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