The proposed Barnhill/Barberstown development is situated at on the edge of the green belt area between Clonsilla, Dublin 15 and Lucan. It is important therefore, that as the area develops the council should take the maximum opportunity to implement a green, environmentally friendly approach. In particular the proposed housing development should ensure a green approach in terms of tree planting, public open spaces and the protection of wetlands.
Access by appropriate walkways and pedestrian bridges through to both canal and the river Liffey via the canal and St Catherine’s Park would be an enormous bonus to not just Barnhill, but the whole of the Dublin 15 area and would significantly enhance access to the Royal canal and the Liffey Valley special amenity area.
It should also be an objective of the council in conjunction with Meath County Council to create a walking and cycle path to Clonee via Ongar and to Dunboyne village. There are outstanding local attractions in Westmanstown Golf and Sport Centre, Shackelton Gardens, and Fort Lucan. I attach a proposal by Westmanstown Gaels GAA club for pitches for this rapidly expanding club serving all of the immediate local areas, for pitches at Barnhill. They also propose that there be pedestrian access between the development and the Westmanstown sports complex. This would also enable the very large parking at Westmanstown to be potentially availed of by walkers and others.
Currently, this area is not served by buses and there must be a dedicated bus service from Dublin Bus in to and out of the area. The proposed development has no bus services and while it is adjacent to the train station and railway line, there must public transport for the proposed new areas and should be included to access Ongar area. It is critical there are cycleways and walkways in areas like Ongar and Hansfield.
The development has an excessive amount of potentially extremely bland apartment blocks, the county council needs to clarify heights of blocks, and to consider a multiplex development, such as Annfield and Fernleigh in 4 and 5 storeys with traditional Irish pitched roofs. The area should be developed as a suburb, orientated to families with children, as well as older people, so that a mix of house sizes is appropriate.
Education and Community:
The large growth in population in the areas of Ongar and Hansfield over the past decade has led to a situation where the amount of places in primary and secondary schools is insufficient for local residents.
Pobail Scoil Setanta, the largest school in the area, has currently approx. 1200 pupils and is over-subscribed, having had to refuse a significant number of applicants this year. While there is the recent opening of a new secondary school, Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School, the concern grows that there are not enough secondary school places available for the large number of pupils graduating from primary schools this year, and over the coming years. There are many new houses in the area as well as those proposed at Barnhill.
Sufficient school places at primary and secondary need to be planned for. I would recommend that in addition, to a primary school, that a feasibility study be undertaken to establish the need for a new secondary school site in Barnhill. There needs to be a quality plan to help avoid nightmare scenarios for parents in the future, unable to access school places for their children. The council need to designate sufficient land for a primary and a secondary school on sites that include adequate play/sporting facilities such as pitches.
Westmanstown Garda Sports centre, this facility has outstanding sports facilities and includes a wide variety of the sporting amenities and now has an established GAA club, Westmanstown Gaels which has expanded rapidly. There are also other local clubs, such as Erin Go Bragh and Ongar Chasers Basket Ball Club that are in need of pitches/courts and space for community led activity. A walkway from Westmanstown to the new development site should be included to enable local residents and clubs to access the amenities, new developments, and transport services.
Transportation , Cycling and Pedestrian Infrastructure:
Prioritise the electrification of the Maynooth railway line, as the population continues to expand, including Barnhill.
The provision of dedicated walking/cycling ways to Hansfield/Clonsilla rail stations should encourage the use of public transport.
It must be noted that there is already insufficient capacity on the lines into the city centre at peak times, so additional carriages need to be added to trains, given the growth of the Dublin 15 area.
Improve pedestrian/cycling connections with existing facilities which are nearby, Westmanstown sports centre/Clonsilla and Hansfield Rail Stations.
All weather pedestrian/cycling path from Barnhill to Clonsilla along the Grand Canal.
Secure cycle parking for shared areas within the Barnhill LAP – including at retail/commercial areas, community centre and playgrounds/parks.
The parking layout at Hansfield station should be reviewed and improved.
Adequate local shopping and facilities should be provided, including a crèche and a provision for a doctors surgery, with no fast food outlets. Provision for small business development such as the rental of ‘hot-desk space’.
There should be provision for a community centre.
Environmental impact assessment of the wetlands and flooding risks and of wildlife, flora and fauna is essential.
Preservation of hedgerows and mature and ancient trees should be prioritised.
Amenities, Flaura & Fauna:
An urban centre modelled on the principles of promotion of healthy outdoor lifestyles and reduction of environmental impact, particularly with respect to transport.
I propose that this new development be modelled with regard for the environmental impact it will have. Pedestrians and cyclists should not just be accommodated but there should be an emphasis on these modes of transport as well as bus and train services. As we have seen with recent new developments across Europe, in countries such as the Netherlands, new developments need to take account of climate change and reducing carbon footprint.
Any new developments must help create a residential community which supports residents of all ages, parents and children, young couples, singles and older people, providing quality amenities and facilities.
Standard of Design & Existing Development:
I think that an opportunity exists for Fingal County Council, in the formation of the LAP, to embrace the highest quality planning to provide a sustainable development consistent with best standards in terms of reducing carbon footprint, insulation, and development of green spaces and facilities. Any new development could be planned as a model for Fingal in a sustainable development having regard to the following:
- Eco and Energy efficient housing (i.e. solar, geothermal and biomass heating)
- Eco material used in construction (i.e. renewable, recyclable, or recycled building materials)
The LAP should include a mixture of affordable and social housing, with specific access for residents with a disability.