Plans for Shanganagh Park at the heart of court cases now under Council consideration – The Irish Times

Plans to move sports facilities to a park in south Dublin, which led to a High Court challenge last year, are currently under review by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council after a public consultation report found weak support for the project.

Local Authority wants to redesign Shanganagh Park in Shankhill by moving the pitches leased to a Dalkey-based GAA club to the center of the park – a move strongly opposed by many Shankhill residents.

The council created a master plan in 2019 to upgrade the park from local to regional status. Phase one of the project included the provision of floodlit grass pitches, a sprint track and a common baseball and cricket area. The creation of this “active recreation zone” on a grassy area in the middle of the park is a “priority for the park’s modernization because of a glaring lack of facilities” to support sports clubs, the council said.

As part of the plan, GAA spaces leased to Cuala GAA, currently located on the western edge of the park off Dublin Road, would be moved to the center of the park near housing developments.

In 2021, the council began the planning process for the project, which attracted nearly 400 public submissions, 72 percent of whom opposed the plans, largely due to concerns about traffic and loss of open space and biodiversity. However, the council said sports clubs had been asked to only submit one submission at a time and “it is therefore understood that support for the project is much greater than the 69 submissions received”.

The plans were approved by the council last May. Two months later, residents launched a judicial review process against the decision on a number of grounds, including that the planning application related to the county’s earlier rather than current development plan, and environmental concerns related to reports of wintering birds and their impact on floodlighting on bats. In October, the council admitted the case.

That same month, the City Council hired Connect the Dots, a community engagement firm, to conduct consultations with residents and sports clubs and schools.

The report, released in recent weeks, found “very strong feelings towards the proposed plans, with most expressing generally negative opinions”. A recurring reference from all factions was “that the existing sports location in the park is much better suited to make this possible than the area provided for in the plan”.

The existing pitches had the added benefit of being close to public transport and parking, respondents said. “Any noise or light pollution associated with sporting activities is reduced by being in an already busy area,” the report said.

A spokesman for the Save Shanganagh Park campaign said the lack of support for the council’s plan was apparent. “It is clear from the Connect the Dots report that the only people who want these facilities in this grassland area is the community itself. Despite three planning and consultation rounds and court orders, we have not seen any planning that takes into account the wishes of the community or the sports clubs.”

The council should “swallow their pride,” he said, and upgrade the sports facilities in their current location.”

Colm Small, secretary of the Cuala club, said the club is reserving its position until it sees the council’s revised plans. However, he said while it “keeps wanting more pitches” it has not sought to move to Shanganagh.

“Cuala has been at the park for 40 years, we are absolutely comfortable keeping what we have and where we are. We have two parking spaces in front and we never looked for more. Cuala never wanted that and didn’t stand behind it; This whole park redevelopment is actually entirely up to the local council.”

The council was due to start a new planning process on February 3, but a spokeswoman said it was now reviewing “the representations and consultations” and would “report shortly”. Plans for Shanganagh Park at the heart of court cases now under Council consideration – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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