OPW ap­proves plans for ¤80m Garda com­plex

Dublin City Coun­cil’s con­cerns over Mil­i­tary Road transport plans dis­counted

The Irish Times - - Home News - OLIVIA KELLY Dublin Cor­re­spon­dent

Plans for a new ¤80 mil­lion Garda com­mand and con­trol cen­tre on Mil­i­tary Road in Dublin have been ap­proved by the Of­fice of Pub­lic Works (OPW) more than two years af­ter they were first pro­posed.

The six-storey com­plex near Heuston Sta­tion and the Ir­ish Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art (Imma) will re­place the Garda premises on Har­court Street, where its high-se­cu­rity and spe­cial­ist op­er­a­tional units are based.

The Garda Síochána has to leave Har­court Street when its lease on the build­ing ex­pires in 2022.

The OPW has given the go-ahead for work to start on the two-acre site at the cor­ner of St John’s Road and Mil­i­tary Road and has dis­counted “se­ri­ous con­cerns” raised by Dublin City Coun­cil about transport plans for the devel­op­ment.

It said that, de­spite be­ing be­side a “ma­jor pub­lic transport hub” with main rail, Luas, bus and Dublin bike fa­cil­i­ties, a “se­ri­ous over­pro­vi­sion” of car park­ing spa­ces had been in­cluded in the plans, which “se­ri­ously con­flicts” with coun­cil stan­dards.

The OPW pro­poses two storeys of un­der­ground park­ing with 220 car park­ing spa­ces.

The plans would see ve­hi­cles ac­cess­ing the car park from the nar­row Mil­i­tary Road. While any ve­hic­u­lar ac­cess from Mil­i­tary Road would be “un­de­sir­able”, the coun­cil said, the quan­tum of park­ing pro­posed made it “un­ac­cept­able”.

Cy­cle net­work

The na­tional cy­cle net­work plan re­quired space for a “green­way” route link­ing to the Ca­mac river through the site. No pro­vi­sion had been made for this route, de­spite be­ing part of a statu­tory plan, the coun­cil said.

While no changes were made to the park­ing plans for the devel­op­ment, the OPW has al­tered the scheme to pro­vide a pas­sage for the cy­cle­way.

Green Party coun­cil­lor Ciarán Cuffe said he was pleased space had been left for the green­way.

‘Dis­ap­pointed’

“This will al­low for a fu­ture cy­cling and walk­ing route, though I am dis­ap­pointed that this will not be put in place at this stage.”

How­ever, he was un­happy with the process used to se­cure plan­ning per­mis­sion and that the coun­cil’s con­cerns in re­la­tion to transport had been dis­counted.

Un­like nor­mal plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions, the de­ci­sion was made di­rectly by the OPW’s board of com­mis­sion­ers, not the city coun­cil, and it can­not be ap­pealed to An Bord Pleanála.

‘Ab­surd’

“It is ab­surd that a State body can ap­ply for plan­ning per­mis­sion to it­self and con­se­quently grant that plan­ning per­mis­sion. I sus­pect the leg­is­la­tion is not com­pli­ant with the Aarhus di­rec­tive,” Mr Cuffe said.

“The pro­posed build­ing will con­tain 220 car park­ing spa­ces, whereas 40 spa­ces would be the max­i­mum al­low­able un­der the devel­op­ment plan. This flatly con­tra­dicts na­tional and lo­cal guid­ance on sus­tain­able transport.”

There were also con­cerns at the im­pact on her­itage, flora and fauna, Mr Cuffe said.

The site was ear­marked dur­ing the boom for a large-scale res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment.

In 2003, Tom Par­lon, then a min­is­ter of State with re­spon­si­bil­ity for the OPW, an­nounced am­bi­tious plans for a res­i­den­tial and of­fice devel­op­ment on the site in­clud­ing a 32-storey apart­ment block.

How­ever, it was never built and last year the land was en­tered on Dublin city’s reg­is­ter of va­cant sites.

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