Page 1

An Bord Pleanala Ref.: PL27.YD0004

An Bord Pleanála

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT – DIRECTION CASE Inspector’s Report

Project:

Revisions to Greystones Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Planning Authority:

Wicklow County Council

Date of Site Inspection:

09/02/11

Inspector:

Gillian Kane

PL27.YD0004 An Bord Pleanála

Harbour

Development,

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1.0

INTRODUCTION

1.1

I have read the contents of PL27.YD0004, history files as relevant and inspected the site on the date noted above. The purpose of this report is to advise the Bord whether or not it should require the Local Authority to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment of the development as currently proposed under section 175 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended and article 120 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.

2.0

SITE LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION

2.1

The subject site is part of the Greystones Harbour development project, comprising the northern and central section of the overall development site. The site relates to the proposed public park at the northern end of the site and the residential and commercial development in the centre of the site (blocks E, F, G, H I and J and terraces 1 -12).

2.2

Note: The subject site is different to that set out in the previous Part 8 proposal YD0003 in that the previous proposal also included Block D and terraces 13 -16.

2.3

Currently the site is under construction and is bound by fencing and hoarding along the eastern boundary. Two walkways bound by fencing provide public access to the beach areas. The site accommodates a number of portacabins in use as site offices.

3.0

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT

3.1

The proposed development involves a number of revisions and changes to the development as previously approved by An Bord Pleanala under PL27.EF2016. According to the public notice published the revisions •

comprise:

revisions to Blocks E,F,G,H,I,J (i.e. residential apartment buildings situated along the proposed Boardwalk at the Marina) and the omission of Block L, Revisions to include an increase in the number of residential units within these blocks from 172 to 223 units,

the reduction of the commercial space within these blocks from 3130sqm to 840sqm

consequent changes to the elevational treatments to all blocks,

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the omission of the basement car park under Blocks E,F,G and the basement under Blocks H,I,J,

alterations to the surface parking and landscape treatment in the immediate vicinity of Blocks,

integrated substation and switchroom structure (2 no.).

Revisions to Housing Terraces 1-14 inclusive, i.e. traditional housing terraces situated along the proposed access spine road to include an increase in the number of residential units within these terraces from 139 to 141 houses and the introduction of semi detached and detached house types,

the extension northward of Terrace 12 to form west edge to southern area of public park,

consequent changes to the elevational treatments to amended terraces and house types,

alterations to the surface parking and landscape treatment in the immediate vicinity of terraces,

inclusion of communal external bin stores to each Terrace.

Revisions to landscape treatment and public parking to southern area of public park in the immediate vicinity of the extended terrace 12

3.2

I note that the boundary of the current Part 8 proposed development comprises only part of the overall Greystones Harbour Site. Development permitted in the south and south-eastern section of the site comprising the south breakwater, block M, block O, public square, public green areas and Block D are not included within the “red line” boundary. In addition the description of the proposed development does not account for a reduction in the permitted public open space necessitated by the extension of the residential area into the park.

3.3

This raises a number of issues regarding the description of the proposed development, the development as outlined in the Planning Officers report to the Council and the development as shown on the submitted plans. This issue is addressed in further detail below.

4.0 PLANNING HISTORY 4.1

PL27.EF2016: Under section 226 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, permission was granted for an integrated harbour/marina mixed

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development linked to a linear coastal public park, the development will provide leisure, recreational, open space and marine facilities and mixed form residential, commercial, civic and social amenities centred around the harbour and marina at Rathdown Upper and Rathdown Lower/Greystones Harbour and North Beach, Greystones, County Wicklow. Following the submission of further information and the holding of two oral hearings, permission was granted subject to 13 no conditions. Works commenced in 2008 and are ongoing. 4.2

PL27.CF2002: Wicklow County Council Compulsory Purchase (Rathdown Upper and Rathdown Lower/Greystones Harbour and North Beach) No. 4 Order, 2004 confirmed without modification on 7.08.2007.

4.3

PL27.YD0003: In March 2010 Wicklow County Council requested the Bord to determine whether or not an EIS was required for proposed revisions to the above permitted development. In their request the Council noted that there appeared to be no provision under section 226 to deal with revisions to such permissions. The Council sought to achieve the revisions by way of a Part 8 procedure. The revised development proposed the following: •

An increase in the urban development area from 8,147 hectares to 9,444 hectares in an extension to the north of the approved development. (This refers to the extension of the “Urban Development Area” of the approved scheme into the previously approved public park / former landfill area and equates to an increase of approx. 1,297ha).

An increase in the number of residential units from 341, as approved by the Board, to 375. This would have the effect of restoring the total number of units to the number specified in the 1999 variation to the County Development Plan.

An increase in the quantum of commercial space from 5,621m2 to 6,425m2. (increase of 804sq.m.)

An increase in the lengths of roads and services to cater for the proposed extension.

Additional excavation of the landfill site to accommodate the proposed extension.

A reduction in the quantum of open space/parkland to the north from 7,612 ha to 6.314 ha to accommodate the proposed extension, this being seen in the context that the harbourside open space was increased in response to the request for additional information.

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An increase in the quantum of car parking from 953 spaces, as approved by the Board, to 1002 spaces.

Parking at undercroft/semi-basement and ground level rather than at underground and ground level as in the approved scheme.

Revisions to the landscape design of the public areas at the harbour and the open space between the apartment blocks.

4.3.1

On the 15th June 2010 the Bord issued as order as follows: DECISION: Direct the Local Authority to prepare an environmental impact statement in respect of the said proposed development based on the reasons and considerations set out below. REASONS AND CONSIDERATIONS: Having considered the submissions made to it, the report and recommendation of the person appointed by the Board to make a report and recommendation on the matter, the relationship of the proposed development to that approved under An Bord Pleanála Reference Number 27.EF2016, the guidance set out in Schedule 7 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, and the document entitled “Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidance for Consent Authorities regarding Sub-threshold Development” issued by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in August 2003, it is considered that the proposed amendments represent material changes to the scheme already approved.

5.0

REQUEST FOR A DETERMINATION

5.1

A third party request under section 120(3)(a) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, called for the Bord to determine whether or not to require the Local Authority to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in respect of the currently proposed revisions to the Greystones Harbour Development Project. In his submission to the Bord, the third party Mr F. Etchingham, states that it would appear that Wicklow County Council do not intend to carry out an EIA before putting the Part 8 proposal before the Councillors.

5.2

The request is based on the following grounds: •

No EIS has been prepared, nor is there an intention to do so before the section 8 motion is put before the Council.

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The Council has confirmed that it has taken the view that the Bords requirement for an EIS was based solely on the location of some housing on the disused landfill. The Council state that the revised plans do not include housing on the landfill and therefore no EIS is required.

The proposed development is so similar to the previous Part 8 proposed revisions, that the Bords previous ruling (that those proposed revisions would represent a material change to the scheme as originally approved and therefore would be likely to have significant effects on the environment) is now also applicable to the current proposed revisions.

The Bords decision does not identify a particular part of the proposal (the location of houses on a landfill) as being the basis for a requirement for an EIS.

The Council has relied on a statement in the Inspector’ report relating to the location of housing on the landfill when deciding that an EIS is not required. It is submitted that the Bord makes it clear that it does not solely rely on the Inspectors report. It is submitted that it is erroneous of the Council to rely on part of one of the factors in the Bords decision.

Any proposal to revert to the original number of houses, irrespective of their location or configuration requires the approval of the Bord.

It is submitted that no part of the 2001 regulations allow the Council to amend the proposal and ignore the Bords decision.

It is submitted that it is unlikely that the proposed housing will be built for a very long time. It is possible that at that time the coastline may be unstable, policy on developing near coastlines may have changed and that other factors may be relevant. It is submitted therefore that it is premature to amend the proposal at this time.

6.0

OBSERVATIONS

6.1

A third party observation on the proposed Part 8 development was submitted to the Council. The observation was cc’d to the Bord. The issues raised in the observation can be summarised as follows: •

Failure to refer the proposed changes to the Bord disregards the considerations discussed at the two oral hearings including density, sewage, drainage etc.

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It is submitted that the future of the project and its relationship to NAMA has not been clarified.

It is submitted that although construction has started, the end date is uncertain as all dates given for the development have passed.

The residents have been told that the development will not proceed without the proposed changes, leaving the community at ransom.

Lack of comment on the previous proposed revisions are not an acceptance of the proposal by the community.

7.0

REQUEST FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

7.1

Following the request by Mr F Etchingham for a determination, An Bord Pleanala requested him to provide the following further information: 1. “A statement indicating what class of development set out in schedule 5 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended

the proposed

development the subject of the request is considered by you to belong (in this regard you should note that the Bords power to issue a direction under the said article 120 is confined to a direction in respect of “sub-threshold development” as defined at article 92 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended). 2. A statement indicating the reasons why you consider that the proposed development would be likely to have significant effects on the environment and a statement indicating the nature of such effects. In this regard you should note that the Bords power to issue a direction to the Local Authority to prepare an environmental impact statement in respect of sub-threshold development is confined to circumstances where the Bord considers that the proposed development would be likely to have significant effects on the environment)”. 7.2

An Bord Pleanala also requested Wicklow County Council to indicate whether the proposed development has or is intended to be subject to the process set out in Part XI of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended and Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended. The Bord noted that the Council may wish to consider suspending completion of same until after the Bord has concluded its consideration.

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8.0

RESPONSES

8.1

Response of Mr F. Etchingham The applicants response to the request for further information is as follows: •

The status of the proposed development is defined in schedule 5, part 2, section 10(b)(i) “construction of more than 500 dwelling units” as the proposed revisions involve less than 500 units.

This is supported by the Bords direction of 15 June 2010 on a variation of similar size. No such direction would have been possible if the development were not sub threshold as the Bords power is confined to direction in respect of sub threshold development.

The proposed development will reinstate the quantum of development and associated traffic generation to the scale that was previously proposed, therefore there will be no reduction in these factors.

The proposed development is so similar to the previous that it too represents a material change to the scheme and therefore is likely to have significant effects on the environment.

The development encroaches on and reduces the size of the public park, which was to be a benefit to the community.

The location of the housing extends the boundary northwards and increases the visual intrusiveness of the development to an unacceptable level. This represents a dangerous precedent and could lead to further proposals to develop housing on the southern slopes of Bray Head.

The proposed housing is unacceptably close to a rapidly eroding coastline to

the

northwest. 8.2

Wicklow County Council The Council’s response to the Further Information request is as follows: •

A revised development for Greystones is currently subject to a Part 8 process. The process commenced on 1 Sept 2010, plans were on display until 13 October 2010 with submissions accepted up to 28 Oct 2010.

In the previous determination the Bord decided that an EIS was required. The Inspectors report considered that only the construction of a number of residential units on a former landfill site triggered the need for an EIS. The Bord accepted the Inspectors recommendation.

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Following consideration of the decision the Council decided to revise the proposed development to omit the additional works to the landfill, thereby removing the need to prepare a new EIS.

The treatment of the former landfill site remains as approved by An Bord Pleanala.

It is submitted that the nature and extent of the revisions would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment and do not warrant the preparation of an EIS.

The revised works are designed to reflect and mitigate changes in the property market. It is acknowledged that this may not be a consideration of the Bord. It is submitted that the preparation of an EIS would be an unnecessary exercise and would only serve to suspend progress.

The Bord is requested to concur with the Councils view that the proposed revisions would not be subject to EIA.

9.0

PLANNING AUTHORITY DETERMINATION

9.1

On the 21st January 2011, the Bord received notification from the Council that a report on the Part 8 procedure was considered and approved by the members of Wicklow County Council at a meeting of 6th December 2010. The approval of the proposed development was subject to 6 no conditions which can be summarised as follows: 1.

house type A detached shall be redesigned,

2.

2 no. in curtilage car parking spaces shall be provided for each property in terrace no. 12

3.

private amenity space for each dwelling in terrace 12 shall comply with section 5.4.5.3 of the development plan

4.

private open space shall be provided for ground floor apartments in Blocks F,H and I in accordance with section 5.4.5.3 of the development plan

9.2

5.

Development shall be monitored by an Archaeologist.

6.

Requirements of Inland Fisheries Ireland shall be complied with.

Planners Report on Part 8 Proposal The Councils submission to the Bord included an extract from the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 06/12/2010. Item 4 comprised a planning report in accordance with article 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as

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amended, regarding planning reg. ref. 10/2808. Comments of note in the planning report include: •

The proposed revisions are in keeping with Action Plan Z1 in the Greystones / Delgany LAP. The development will encroach onto zone 2 of the action plan. The boundaries are indicative only and therefore the proposed development will not materially contravene the LAP.

It is not considered that the proposed alterations will have a significant effect on the environment. The decision by An Bord Pleanala was based on the fact that terraces 13 to 16 were to be located on the former landfill. These terraces have been omitted from the proposal and the layout amended accordingly. The use of the former landfill site will not be altered – it will remain as part of the public park.

It is not considered that traffic movements will significantly increase. Roads Department and the Water Services Authority indicated no objection.

The most significant alteration will be the extension of terrace 12 onto the proposed public park where previously there was a service road and public parking. These will be relocated in an easterly direction. The report states that there is no objection to this as the relocations will allow for passive supervision of the park.

The revisions to the development will result in 34 no. additional residential units. The Bord previously reduced the development from 375 to 341 residential units and from 6,425sq.m. to 5,625sq.m commercial floorspace. The planning report states that consideration must be given to the reasoning behind the request which appear to relate to the level of development in the vicinity of Courtyard 1, the traffic generation in this area, the design, scale and bulk of the buildings in relation to the existing Victorian seafront buildings and the need to provide a more functional area of public space. It is stated that given that the layout of the public square will not be altered, the benefits of the amendments approved by the Bord will be preserved. It is stated that the overall layout of the development has not altered significantly from what was approved by the Bord and is therefore considered acceptable.

Concerns regarding the provision of open space for Blocks F, H and I and the design of house type A are raised.

Traffic access arrangements are considered acceptable.

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The parking provision for the apartments is considered acceptable. Where incurtilage car parking is not provided for terraced dwellings, dedicated spaces should be provided.

Rear gardens in compliance with section 5.4.5.3 of the development plan should be provided for all dwellings in terrace no. 12.

Archaeological monitoring should be carried out during the construction of the public park.

Recommendation that the proposal is acceptable subject to 5 no modifications.

The Minutes note that the Director recommended that the proposal proceed subject to conditions as recommended in the planning report. The Minutes note that the Part 8 proposal was passed by a margin of 9 votes.

10.0

LEGISLATION

10.1

Section 175 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended, applies to environmental impact assessment of development carried out by or on behalf of Local Authorities. Article 120(4) of the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001 as amended states that the Board, in deciding whether a particular development would be likely to have significant effects on the environment, should have regard to the criteria set out in Schedule 7 of the Regulations, these being the transposition of the criteria set out in Annex III of the 1997 amending Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain projects on the environment. Schedule 7 of the regulations, as referred to in article 120(4) outlines the ‘Criteria for determining whether a development would or would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment’. These are: 1. Characteristics of proposed development The characteristics of proposed development, in particular: - the size of the proposed development, - the cumulation with other proposed development, - the use of natural resources, - the production of waste, - pollution and nuisances, - the risk of accidents, having regard to substances or technologies used.

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2. Location of proposed development The environmental sensitivity of geographical areas likely to be affected by proposed development, having regard in particular to: - the existing land use, - the relative abundance, quality and regenerative capacity of natural resources in the area, - the absorption capacity of the natural environment, paying particular attention to the following areas: (a) wetlands, (b) coastal zones, (c) mountain and forest areas, (d) nature reserves and parks, (e) areas classified or protected under legislation, including special protection areas designated pursuant to Directives 79/409/EEC and 92/43/EEC, (f) areas in which the environmental quality standards laid down in legislation of the EU have already been exceeded, (g) densely populated areas, (h) landscapes of historical, cultural or archaeological significance. 3. Characteristics of potential impacts The potential significant effects of proposed development in relation to criteria set out under paragraphs 1 and 2 above, and having regard in particular to: - the extent of the impact (geographical area and size of the affected population), - the transfrontier nature of the impact, - the magnitude and complexity of the impact, - the probability of the impact, - the duration, frequency and reversibility of the impact. The proposed development is considered below under each of these headings. 10.2

Further guidance is provided in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government ‘Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidance for Consent Authorities regarding Sub-threshold Development’. The guidance is largely based on Schedule 7 referred to above.

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10.3

Sub threshold development as defined in article 92 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, is “development of a type set out in Schedule 5 which does not exceed a quantity, area of other limit specified in that Schedule in respect of the relevant class of development”.

10.4

Schedule 5 development is divided into two Parts. Paragraph 10 of part 2 deals with infrastructure projects. With regard to the subject development, the relevant categories are

10(b)(i) construction of more than 500 units and

10(iv): Urban

development which would involve an area greater than 2 hectares in the case of a business district, 10 hectares in the case of other parts of a built up area and 20 hectares elsewhere. 10.5

Also relevant is paragraph 13 which provides for changes, extensions, development and testing as follows: 13 (a) any change or extension of development which would: (i) result in the development being of a class listed in Part 1 or paragraphs

1 to

12 of Part 2 of this Schedule, and (ii) result in an increase in an increase in size greater than -

25 per cent or,

-

an amount equal to 50 per cent of the appropriate threshold

whichever is the greater. This is similar to Section 13 of Annex 11 of Directive 97/11/EC which states: Any change or extension of projects listed in Annex I or Annex II, already authorized, executed or in the process of being executed, which may have significant adverse effects on the environment.

11.0

DEVELOPMENT PLAN

11.1

Wicklow County Development Plan 2010 - 2016 In the County Development Plan , Greystones is identified as a ‘Large Growth Town II’. In section 5.4.1 large-scale expansion areas are stated

to be those

developments that would add 10% or more to the existing housing stock of a town or comprise more than 200 residential units. Section 5.4.5 sets out detailed criteria for urban developments.

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11.2

Greystones / Delgany Local Area Plan 2006 -2012

11.2.1 The plan applicable to the subject site is the Greystones/Delgany Local Area Plan 2006-2012. Within the LAP the subject site is covered by the Greystones Harbour and North Beach Action Plan Z1. The Action Plan area is divided into three zones: 1= development area, 2=public park and 3 = heritage park. 11.2.2 In zone 1 the plan (in accordance with Amendment No. 1 to the Plan) provides for the provision of a high quality integrated harbour/marina mixed development linked to a linear coastal park and future heritage park, incorporating leisure, open space and marina facilities and mixed residential, commercial and civic and social amenities. Particular components of this development include a marina basin with potential for c.230 yachting berths, marine based community facilities, up to 375 residential units, no more than 6,500 m2 mixed use commercial, cultural, community and tourist residential waterfront space, creation of an attractive linear coastal public park, provision of road access/public car parking, provision of coastal protection and preservation of land and natural landscape for future archaeological study. 11.2.3 Standards and limitations applicable to the development include maximum height of 3 storeys over 1 storey (ground floor) along the waterfront and 2 storeys elsewhere. 11.2.4 In zone 2 the objective is to provide an attractive linear coastal public park which includes (amongst others) the capping and landscaping of the old dump. Zone 3 provides for a Heritage Park, the preservation of land and natural landscape. 11.2.5 Also within the Plan, the area of Rathdown containing St. Crispin’s Cell, Rathdown Castle and Darcy’s Field is designated as an Area of Special Amenity. Views and prospects of special amenity value or special interest include the view southwards towards Greystones from the R761 road, prospects of sea cliffs from the Cliff Walk and the prospect of the coast along the railway line. The harbour area, being that part of the town between the railway line and the coast, is designated as a Local Urban Character Area.

12.0

ASSESSMENT

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12.0.1 As noted above, in deciding whether a particular development would be likely

to

have significant effects on the environment, the Bord shall have regard to the criteria set out on Schedule 7 of the Regulations. The proposed development is considered below under each of the headings in Schedule 7. An analysis of the proposed development and previous planning history on site is set out in an appendix to this report. 12.1

Characteristics of proposed development

12.1.1 The currently proposed revisions to the original permission as granted by An Bord Pleanala

mainly comprise a change in the quantum of commercial space, an

increase in the quantum of residential development, the reconfiguration of that residential development between apartment blocks and terraces and the extension of one residential terrace into the area permitted for use as a public park. 12.1.2 In the original planning permission as granted by An Bord Pleanala

(following

revisions brought about through a request for further information), residential development was proposed in Blocks D, E, F, G, H, I and J, in terraces 1-12 and commercial floorspace was proposed in blocks D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, O, and N. Commercial Development 12.1.3 The currently proposed revisions comprise consolidation all of the proposed commercial floorspace into Block E (841sq.m.) and the omission of the approved commercial floorspace in blocks F,G, H, I and J. There appears to be a discrepancy between the commercial floorspace figures indicated in the plans submitted for the currently proposed development, those referred to in the planning report on the Part 8 procedure for this proposed development and those permitted under EF2016. 12.1.4 Currently there is permission for 5,798sq.m. of commercial development on site (EF2016). As noted above (section 3.0) the plans submitted with the current Part 8 proposal refer to certain blocks within the overall development only (i.e. blocks E, F, G, H, I and J). Therefore one must assume that blocks D, K and N are to remain as permitted (i.e. 2728sq.m. of commercial floorspace). With a permitted commercial floorspace of 2728sq.m. and a proposed commercial floorspace in Block E of 841sq.m., this equates to a total proposed floorspace of 3,569sq.m. (i.e. a significant decrease from that permitted). However, the planning report assessing the current Part 8 proposal states that the proposed revisions result in an increase in commercial floorspace on the overall site - up to 6,245sq.m.

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12.1.4 I note that in the previous Part 8 proposal YD0003 (which included block D) it was proposed to increase the overall floorspace to 6,245sq.m. (as per the public notices). I note that in the previous Part 8 proposal (YD0003) there was also an inconsistency in the proposed commercial floorspace figures indicated by the Planning Authority and that calculated by the Planning Inspector. This was noted by the Planning Inspector in his report to the Bord. Please see Table 1 below for resume.

EF2016 as YD0003 PERMITTED 5,798sq.m. 6,245sq.m. Block D: 1,120sqm. Block D: 3815sq.m. Block E: 840sq.m. Block E: 605 sq.m. Block F: 800sq.m. Block K: 1270sq.m. Block G: 100sq.m. Block N: 338 sq.m Blocks F,G, H, I J = Block H: 665sq.m. Block I: 800sq.m. 0sq.m. Block J: 100sq.m Block K: 1270sq.m Block N: 338sq.m. Table 1: Commercial Floorspace

CURRENT PROPOSAL YD0004 Block E: 841sq.m. Blocks F,G, H, I J = 0sq.m. (UNCHANGED: Block D: 1120sq.m. Block K: 1270sq.m. Block N: 338sq.m.)

12.1.6 It is possible that the inconsistency arises from the proposed development of Block D (which is not part of the currently proposed revisions). In the original proposal the permitted Block D comprised 1120sq.m. of commercial floorspace. When revisions were sought in the first Part 8 (YD0003), it was proposed to revise Block D into a medical centre of 3450sq.m. and a retail unit of 365sq.m. (i.e. a total of 3815sq.m.). It is possible that when arriving at the total figure of 6,245sq.m. as stated in the most recent planning officers report, the previously revised proposal for Block D was incorrectly taken into account. While this explanation certainly seems plausible and allows the figures to ‘add up’, it highlights the difficulty of proposing revisions for only part of an overall development site which was itself subject to much revision. It is considered that the lack of clarity about what exactly is proposed within each block and within the overall development site serves to emphasise the need to comprehensively address the proposed development site as a total entity. 12.1.7 With regard to the criteria of Schedule 7, the Bord must consider the characteristics of proposed development, in particular: the size of the proposed development, the cumulation with other proposed development, the use of natural resources, the production of waste, pollution and nuisances, the risk of accidents, all having regard to substances or technologies used. I have addressed the characteristics of the proposed and permitted development above and outlined my concerns regarding the

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lack of clarity regarding same. If the Bord is to accept the proposed Part 8 revisions purely at face value, the quantum of commercial development is to significantly decrease – from a permitted 5,798sq.m. to a proposed 3,569sq.m. This represents a decrease of 39%. In isolation this would appear to be significant. However for the purposes of triggering an EIA requirement, it is reasonable to consider that given that the environmental impacts of a greater quantum of commercial development have already been assessed, a reduction in same would not generate the need to further assess environmental impacts. It is considered safe to assume that the environmental impacts identified by the greater quantum of development would only lessen, should that quantum of development also reduce. 12.1.8 One must be aware however that this reasoning is based on the quantum of commercial floorspace being reduced. If as suggested by the Council’s planning official the overall quantum of commercial floorspace is to increase; from 5,798sq.m. to 6,245sq.m., this results in an increase of approx. 8%. When assessed purely against the criteria of schedule 7, this increase does not appear significant. However, again, one must assess this increase against that previously permitted by the Bord. Permission was sought in the first instance for 6,405sq.m. which was revised to 5,798sq.m. following the submission of additional information. It is noted that an EIA was carried out in relation to the original proposed floorspace of 6,405sq.m (i.e. greater than is being proposed now) and subsequently, amendments to the EIS were submitted to the Bord following the submission of additional information. These amendments related to phasing of the construction phase, traffic impacts, economic activities, employment and population, retail impact statement, dredged and waste materials, landscape impact, cultural heritage including archaeology and architecture, It is acknowledged that the proposed layout and uses of the commercial floorspace differ in the two proposals, however, it is considered that the environmental impacts would be largely the same. It is considered that this finding also applies to the other schedule 7 criteria, namely the use of natural resources, the production of waste, pollution and nuisances, the risk of accidents, all having regard to substances or technologies used. In the interest of clarity, however, the Bord may wish to seek clarification on the inconsistencies outlined above. Residential Development – Apartments 12.1.9 With regard to the increase in quantum of residential development, permission was granted for 341 no. residential units which took the form of 202 no. apartments (in

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blocks D, E, F, G, H, I, J and L). A brief comparison of residential development in apartment form is set out in Table 2 as follows: EF2016 as PERMITTED 202 units Block D: 30 units Block E: 20 units Block F: 32 units Block G: 27 units Block H: 20 units Block I: 32 units Block J: 27 units Block L: 14 units

YD0003 234 units Omission of Block L. Block D: 11 no. units Block E: 28 no. units Block F, G, J: 40 no. units Block H: 35 no. units

CURRENT PROPOSAL YD0004 Omission of Block L. Block E: 28 no. units Block F, G, I, J: 40 no. units Block H: 35 no. units (UNCHANGED Block D: 30 units, not part of red line boundary)

Table 2: Apartments Units

12.1.10

It is currently proposed to omit Block L and provide 223 units in blocks E, F,

G, H, I and J. The Bords attention is drawn to Block D which is not included in the current Part 8 ‘red line boundary’. As with the quantum of commercial development, the exclusion of Block D has led to an inconsistency in the overall quantum of development quoted in the planning report as being provided in the overall Greystones Harbour Site. 12.1.11

As a starting point, permission was granted for 30 no. apartments in Block D.

When revisions to the permission were sought by a Part 8 process in 2010 (YD0003), it was proposed to revise Block D and provide 11 no. apartments on the upper floors. This and other revisions resulted in 234 no. apartments being proposed. (The Bord is requested to note that permission was originally sought for 232 no. residential units but this was revised to 202 no. units following the submission of Additional Information as noted above.) Currently, it is proposed to provide 223 no. apartments in Blocks E,F,G,H, I and J. Given that Block D as permitted provides for 30 no. units the overall no. of apartments currently proposed on site is 253 no. When this is added to the currently proposed 141 no. houses, the quantum of residential development on site would be 394 no. residential units on the overall Greystones Harbour development site as opposed to a total of 375 no. units as indicated in the Planning Officer’s report. 12.1.12

It would appear that the permitted 30 no. apartments in Block D have not

been taken in to account in arriving at this figure of 375 no. units. The planning report refers to an increase of 34 no. residential units. This however does not appear to be correct. It appears - as was outlined in the analysis of commercial floorspace

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above - to refer to the proposed revision of Block D in the 2010 Part 8 proposals which provided for only 11 no. apartments. If the revised 11 no. apartment in Block D were included within the development boundary, the quantum of residential development on the overall site would equate to 375 no. residential units. However, as no revisions to Block D have been included in the current Part 8 proposal and Block D as permitted provides 30 no. apartments, the quantum of development proposed for the overall development site stands as 394 residential units (141 no. houses and 253 no. apartments.) As noted above, It is considered that the lack of clarity about what exactly is proposed within each block and within the overall development site serves to emphasise the need to comprehensively address the proposed development site as a total entity. Residential development – Houses 12.1.13

As can be seen from the table below, permission has been granted for 139

no. houses in 12 no. terraces. It is now proposed to provide 141 no. houses in 14 no. terraces. EF2016 as PERMITTED 139 units in 12 terraces

YD0003 141 no. units in 16 no. terraces

CURRENT PROPOSAL YD0004 141 no. units in 14 no. terraces

Table 3: Dwelling Houses

12.1.14

An increase of 2 no. houses, in itself is not considered significant nor is it

considered material. The use of natural resources, the production of waste, pollution and nuisances and the risk of accidents having regard to substances or technologies used are not considered significant in light of an additional 2 no. residential houses. Total Residential Development 12.1.15

An issue raised by proposing a quantum of 394 no. residential units, is that

this level of development has not been assessed in the existing EIS. The EIS as submitted with the original application assessed the likely significant environmental impacts of 375 no. residential units. Following the

submission

of

Additional

Information, the EIS was revised to assess the impacts of 341 no. residential units. At no point, has an environmental

assessment of providing 394 no. residential

units on the overall Greystones site been carried out.

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EF2016 as PERMITTED

YD0003

341 no. residential units 202 apartments 139 no. houses

375 no. residential units 234 apartments 141 no. houses

CURRENT PROPOSAL YD0004 394 no. residential units 253 apartments 141 no. houses

Table 4: Total Residential Development

12.1.14

A second issue is that the Bord expressed a concern about the provision of

375 no. residential units in the original proposal (EF2016). The Bord requested the applicant to consider that the quantum of development in an around the current location of permitted Block D would “result in significant traffic generation and a congested form of overdevelopment in this area the site which would seriously impinge upon any meaningful use of the space as a public square and result in a visually intrusive and dominant form of development in relation to its harbourside setting and existing built fabric, including residential properties”. The Bord noted that “The redesign undertaken in relation to the above shall result in a reduction in the quantum of overall development and associated traffic generation and may require some redesign of other elements within the overall proposed development whilst maintaining the integrity of the overall proposal”. 12.1.15

It is acknowledged that the proposed additional residential units (53 no.) are

concentrated in an area away from the permitted public open spaces and therefore the dominant form of built development perceived by the Bord around the public open spaces would not occur. However, one cannot ignore the expressed position of the Bord regarding the quantum of development proposed. In addition, it is considered that the traffic generated by a development in excess of that considered disproportionate by the Bord must be adequately addressed. 12.1.16

Given that the proposed revisions would result in a quantum of residential

development in excess of that permitted in the LAP and in excess of that considered appropriate by the Bord, it is considered reasonable to consider the proposed revisions significant. It is also considered reasonable to state that these significant revisions may have significant impacts on the environment and should be assessed by way of EIA. 12.1.16

The provision of 394 no. residential units is in itself is not

considered

significant, however, it is not in compliance with the Greystones LAP which provides for “up to 375 no. residential units”. The Bords attention is drawn to section 178(1) of

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the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended states that “The Council of a County shall not effect any development in its functional area, exclusive of any borough or urban district, which contravenes materially the development plan.” I consider that this may represent a material contravention of the development plan and this may be something the Bord wishes to consider further. 2.1.17 Finally, in relation to the characteristics of the proposed development, I note that the proposed Part 8 does not refer to the increased site area

which results from the

extension of the development area into lands previously permitted for use as a public park .

12.2 12.2.1

Location of proposed development Permission was granted by An Bord Pleanala for residential development to be located generally within the central portion of the overall Harbour site. A public park was to be located on the grounds of a former landfill (north of the central residential area). According to the EIS submitted with the application, an old landfill was identified immediately south of Darcy’s Playing Fields. Investigations carried out in 2001 concluded that extraction of sand and gravel had created a depression which was subsequently filled. There was little evidence of significant contamination and no leachate was observed. The site comprised chemically inert material, which was to be capped with an inert soil layer and landscaped as part of the proposed public park. On the site of this former landfill, the applicants proposed a public park. This issue has been discussed at length in the planning history files. A copy of the site plan as revised following the submission of Additional Information is attached to this report.

12.2.2

When the Council sought to revise the permitted development early in 2010 (YD0003), the residential development was to extend into the permitted public park at the northern end of the site (34 no. residential units in 4 additional terraces). The Bord requested further information regarding the proposed revisions and amongst other items, the applicant submitted drawing no. GSK-210 showing the “original and additional landfill excavation”. As can seen from the drawing, area A showing the “excavation and profiling as per approved scheme” is an irregular almost arrow shaped area extending in a north south direction from north of the new breakwater into the central residential area. Area B, the “proposed area of additional excavation” is to the north and east of area A, filling out the ‘arrow’ into an irregular triangle. It

PL27.YD0004 An Bord Pleanála

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can be clearly seen that some of the proposed additional residential units would be located on newly excavated land.

The report of the Planning Inspector stated that

this component of the proposed development would not necessarily be inconsistent with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area but that it would be likely to have significant effects on the environment. 12.2.3

As noted earlier, the Bord determined that the proposed revisions did represent material changes to the scheme already approved and directed the Local Authority to prepare an EIS in respect of the proposed development. It is noted however that the Bord did not refer to any one specific element of the proposed development in the direction, stating only that “the proposed amendments” represented material changes.

12.2.4

In the currently proposed revisions, the layout of the terraces has been revised – both from what is permitted and what was proposed in the first Part 8. The current proposal extends terrace no. 12 152m into the former public park area (see drawing no. PS01), along the western site boundary. The planning report commenting on the Part 8 proposal notes that this raises two issues, the first being that the proposed residential component of the development now encroaches into an area indicated as zone 2 in the LAP and identified as a public park. The report states that the zone boundaries are indicative and the extension into zone 2 will not materially contravene the LAP. I would tend to agree with this reasoning.

12.2.5

The second issue, raised by a third party and identified in the planning report is that of the location of the additional terraces of housing on the former landfill. The report states that the decision by An Bord Pleanala in the previous EIS direction case was “based on the fact that terraces 13 – 16 will be located on what was previously a landfill”. The Planning report states that the terraces have been omitted from the proposal and the layout amended so that “no dwellings will be constructed on the former landfill” and that the use of the former landfill will not be altered from what was previously permitted by the Bord. Along this line of reasoning, when responding to the third party request for an EIS direction on the current proposals, the Council submitted to the Bord that “The treatment of the former landfill site remains as approved by An Bord Pleanala”.

12.2.6

I do not entirely accept these statements. Firstly, the Bord’s decision on YD0003 was not based on the fact that housing would be located on the former

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landfill site. The Bord’s direction does not refer to any one single matter, merely stating that the proposed amendments require the preparation of an EIS. Secondly, from drawings on history files, it would appear that the given boundary of the former landfill is approx. 30m from the western site boundary. The housing, car parking and service roads of the extended terrace no. 12 cover a corridor of 45m from the western boundary. Therefore a degree of development (albeit road and car parking rather than housing)

will occur on a strip of former landfill lands whereas the

permitted development provided for only soft landscaping within the landfill boundary. It may be factually correct to state that no dwellings will be constructed on the former landfill site, however it is not correct to state that the treatment of the former landfill site remains as approved by the Bord. 12.2.7

The question therefore becomes one of whether the proposed amendments represent development that is likely to have significant effects on the environment. It is not clear from the submitted plans whether the construction of the extended terrace no. 12 and associated car parking would be constructed on top of the capped landfill site or if there would be a degree of disturbance of lands within and adjoining the landfill site. It is also not immediately clear if the boundary of the former landfill can be so definitively established. Notwithstanding that the EIS stated that there appeared to be little evidence of significant contamination I declare a concern regarding development so close to and within the former landfill site. It would appear that the issue is worthy of environmental analysis. The Bord permitted the capping of the former landfill site with a layer of inert material and the use of the area as a public park. Using the criteria of schedule 7, i.e the environmental sensitivity of a geographical area having regard to its existing land use, it is considered that the proposed revisions represent a material change to that permitted development and are likely to have significant effects on the environment.

12.2.8

It is considered the proposed amendments are not significant with regard to the relative abundance, quality and regenerative capacity of natural resources in the area. With regard to the absorption capacity of the natural environment, it is considered that the proposed revisions do not represent a significant or material change from that already assessed in the EIA.

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12.3 12.3.1

Characteristics of Potential Impacts The final section of Schedule 7 requires an assessment of the potential significant effects of proposed development having regard to the extent of the impact, the transfrontier nature of the impact, the magnitude and complexity of the impact, the probability of the impact, the duration, frequency and reversibility of the impact. These criteria are discussed as follows:

12.3.2

Extent of the Impact It is considered that the extent of the impact of the proposed residential amendments would be largely confined to the subject site and the immediate surrounds. With regard to the proposed amendments to the commercial element of the development, a significant increase in the quantum of commercial floorspace could have a significant impact on the defined town centre of Greystones but is unlikely to extend beyond that geographical region.

12.3.3

Transfrontier nature of the Impact It considered that there is no transfrontier nature of the proposed development and therefore no such impacts will arise.

12.3.4

Magnitude and Complexity of the Impact It is considered that the magnitude of the proposed revisions to the permitted development is not significant in the context of the permitted large scale development of Greystones harbour and the assessment of those impacts in the EIA and revised EIS. The proposed revisions essentially increase an already permitted use, largely within a permitted site area. The complexity of the impacts could be potentially significant however, given the extension of residential development into an area previously permitted for use as a public park. To the observer, the built environment block would extend into a recreational area, thereby extending the visual impact, albeit not materially. In addition, there is a degree of uncertainty regarding the proposed land use of the former landfill site and the lands immediately surrounding the stated landfill boundary. Any disturbance of the former landfill lands may have complex environmental impacts, which to date have not been assessed.

12.3.5

Probability, Duration, Frequency and Reversibility of the Impact Once construction starts, impacts are not readily reversible. As can be seen from the attached site photographs, significant works have been undertaken on the Harbour site, so one must assume that it is probable that further permanent and irreversible

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works will be carried out. However, as is the nature of construction work, any impacts associated with same, are temporary. It is noted that the Council state that these revisions are sought in order to address the current economic climate. Indeed, the impacts of reacting to current conditions is raised as a concern by the third party who has requested the EIS determination. In this instance, it is difficult to definitively state the likelihood or probability of any development continuing. However once it is accepted that development will occur, then it is reasonable to state that there will be likely significant impacts from the proposed development.

13.0

SUMMARY

13.1

It is considered that the proposed revisions to the permitted quantum of commercial and residential development and all associated revisions arising from those proposals are such as to represent significant and material amendments to the development as permitted by An Bord Pleanala under EF2016. It is considered that it is likely that these amendments would be likely to have significant effects on the environment, using the guidance provided in Schedule 7 of the 2001 regulations as amended.

13.2

I declare a concern about the level of inconsistency and ambiguity on the exact quantum of commercial and residential development proposed on the overall Greystones Harbour site. I consider it unreasonable to expect the Bord to comprehensively assess a proposal which has not been satisfactorily presented to the Bord. In addition I consider that these possible inaccuracies may provide a misleading account to the public. The Bord may wish to defer adjudication of this matter until clarification has been sought or may decide that the substantive issues can be adequately assessed with the information on file.

14.0

RECOMMENDATION Having considered the submissions made, the planning history of the subject site, the relationship of the proposed development to that approved under An Bord Pleanála Reference Number PL.27.EF2016, including variations of scale, design and on-site location, the guidance set out in Schedule 7 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, and the document entitled “Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidance for Consent Authorities regarding

Sub-threshold

PL27.YD0004 An Bord Pleanála

Development”

issued

by

the

Department

of

the

Page 25 of 26


Environment, Heritage and Local Government in August 2003, it is considered that the proposed amendments represent a material change to the scheme already approved which would be likely to have significant effects on the environment. It is concluded therefore that an environmental impact statement is required. I recommend that the Board, under Article 120(3) of the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001 as amended direct the planning authority to prepare an environmental impact statement in respect of the development in question.

______________ Gillian Kane Planning Inspector 23/02/11

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ABP Inspector report  

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT – DIRECTION CASE Date of Site Inspection: 09/02/11 PL27.YD0004 An Bord Pleanála An Bord Pleanala Ref.: PL27.Y...

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