Bray’s St Paul’s Lodge will be de­mol­ished

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - NEWS -

THERE were scenes of heated de­bate at Mon­day’s meet­ing of Wick­low County Coun­cil as Coun­cil­lors dis­cussed plans to ex­tend Her­bert Road car park in Bray by de­mol­ish­ing a house known as St Paul’s Lodge.

Lo­cal res­i­dents op­posed to the de­mo­li­tion were present in the coun­cil cham­ber and the meet­ing was sus­pended for 15 min­utes at one point when a mem­ber of the pub­lic in­ter­rupted pro­ceed­ings on a ‘point of or­der’. Cathaoir­leach Cllr Ed­ward Tim­mins, halted the meet­ing un­til or­der was re­stored.

Wick­low County Coun­cil in­tend to de­mol­ish St Paul’s Lodge to make way for an ex­tended car park with around 50 park­ing spa­ces.

Cllr Joe Be­han pro­posed that res­i­dents sit­ting in the gallery who had con­cerns over the devel­op­ment should be able to ad­dress the meet­ing for ten min­utes.

While he would be sup­port­ing the Part 8, he felt the res­i­dents were ‘demo­crat­i­cally’ en­ti­tled to voice con­cerns they had.

‘They spoke at Bray Mu­nic­i­pal District but all 32 elected mem­bers in this cham­ber will be mak­ing the de­ci­sion,’ Cllr Be­han said.

How­ever, his pro­posal wasn’t con­sid­ered ad­mis­si­ble un­der lo­cal au­thor­ity stand­ing or- ders, par­tic­u­larly as no no­tice had been given in ad­vance of the meet­ing.

‘Give them ten min­utes. The of­fi­cials al­ways get time to make their case. I will be vot­ing in favour but I still also favour democ­racy,’ said Cllr Be­han to no avail.

Cllr Steven Matthews pro­posed that the de­ci­sion whether to pro­ceed or not should be made by Bray Mu­nic­i­pal District mem­bers and not the full coun­cil. He added that, un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act, cer­tain func­tions could be per­formed by the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal district or by the full coun­cil.

‘This af­fects the lo­cal area. It’s not fair on coun­cil­lors from other ar­eas to be on board over how con­cerned peo­ple are. I also think this would work well for all dis­tricts.’

Cllr Bren­dan Thorn­hill said that as a for­mer mem­ber of An Garda Siochana he had taken a ‘solemn oath’ to pro­tect Ir­ish cit­i­zens from wrong­do­ing and he would con­tinue to do the same as a coun­cil­lor. In his opin­ion, the site plan­ning no­tices didn’t com­ply with law. He was also op­posed to the de­struc­tion of St Paul’s Lodge be­cause of its her­itage.

‘I pro­posed that the coun­cil ad­journs this mat­ter and seeks in­de­pen­dent coun­sel ad­vice on

the pro­cure­ment and de­mo­li­tion of the build­ing and the whole plan­ning process.’

Cllr Michael O’Con­nor said: ‘St Paul’s is a very well-ap­pointed house and of some ar­chi­tec­tural merit. It could be used for the home­less or projects like the Jig­saw Group. There are many rea­sons to keep it and it would be a trav­esty from an ar­chi­tec­tural point of view to de­mol­ish it.’

Cllr Mary Ka­vanagh felt the Part 8 shouldn’t pro­ceed un­til the res­i­dents had an op­por­tu­nity to or­gan­ise a meet­ing where they could get their point across.

‘I am alarmed at the speed at which this is be­ing pushed through. The coun­cil meet­ing on March 5 was can­celled be­cause of the snow but this mat­ter wasn’t on the agenda, so if last week’s meet­ing took place this wouldn’t have been dis­cussed.’

Cllr Oliver O’Brien re­called the re­cent ‘flood plain is­sue’ in­volv­ing Lit­tle Bray res­i­dents.

‘At that county coun­cil meet­ing five coun­cil­lors from Bray voted to over­turn it but we were out voted by the rest of the coun­cil. This is a Bray is­sue and needs to be sorted out in Bray,’ he said.

Cllr Pat Vance of­fered his sup­port to the Part 8, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the lack of avail­able park­ing in Bray.

‘Peo­ple are act­ing like this only ar­rived out of nowhere,’ he said. ‘This has been go­ing on for a con­sid­er­able time. The first no­tices for the Part 8 ap­peared be­fore Christ­mas. At two meet­ings of Bray Mu­nic­i­pal District, coun­cil­lors were in­formed about the plans to pur­chase and de­mol­ish. That’s a fact. At those meet­ings, two coun­cil­lors voiced sup­port and not one voiced any ob­jec­tions. Park­ing is a prob­lem in Bray and has been for a long num­ber of years, 50 ad­di­tional spa­ces won’t solve the prob­lem be­cause we need more but the Floren­tine is due to come on stream in May, which could re­sult in the clo­sure of the car park, with the loss of 250 spa­ces.

Cllr Christo­pher Fox sought to ex­plain why the mat­ter hadn’t ap­peared on the March 5 agenda but was item 6 on the March 12 agenda.

‘This was orig­i­nally meant to be on the March 5 agenda but I con­tacted the cathaoir­leach to say the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion had only stopped on March 1 and maybe it was a bit too soon. That meet­ing was can­celled so it was placed on this meet­ing’s agenda,’ he said.

He pro­posed that the meet­ing pro­ceed with the mem­bers vot­ing on the Part 8.

Cllr John Ryan said news of the progress be­ing made over the Floren­tine Cen­tre had al­ready pro­vided Bray with a boost.

‘Bray En­ter­prise Town Team made a pro­posal be­cause shops were clos­ing all over the place and things were be­com­ing very tough. What the team pro­posed was for the coun­cil to buy back the part of the Floren­tine they didn’t own be­cause we were be­ing held to ran­som by devel­op­ers. The town was given a huge lift with the be­lief that the Floren­tine site will fi­nally be­come a re­al­ity. This is go­ing to be the mak­ing of Bray. I know park­ing is a huge is­sue. If peo­ple can’t park in the town they will just drive to Dun­drum or Car­rick­mines. I don’t want to de­mol­ish a house in Bray, es­pe­cially one with her­itage, but we need to pro­vide park­ing so peo­ple in Bray can thrive,’ said Cllr Ryan.

Cllr Nicola Law­less pro­posed that St Paul’s should be­come a res­i­dence for emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion rather than be­ing de­mol­ished.

‘I just don’t know if the cost of the house, the de­mo­li­tion and then build­ing a car park is jus­ti­fi­able at the time of a hous­ing cri­sis,’ she said.

How­ever, di­rec­tor of Ser­vices Des O’Brien said the pro­posal from Cllr Law­less could not be taken be­cause the money to pro­vide for the project had been ring-fenced from park­ing con­tri­bu­tions from Bray Mu­nic­i­pal District and so could only be used for that pur­pose.

Cllr Gerry Walsh said Bray busi­ness had suf­fered due to closed shops and empty premises.

‘We all agree that it isn’t de­sir­able to knock down a struc­ture like this build­ing but car park­ing is es­sen­tial to get the best out of the Floren­tine Cen­tre. I pre­sume all other op­tions were ex­plored.’

Cllr Tom For­tune said no one present in the coun­cil cham­ber, in­clud­ing the res­i­dents, were op­posed to the Floren­tine Cen­tre but peo­ple did have is­sues with the ‘process.’

Di­rec­tor of Ser­vices, Mr O’Brien, stated that the prop­erty wasn’t a listed build­ing and wasn’t lo­cated in an Ar­chi­tec­tural Con­ser­va­tion Area.

Coun­cil­lor Fox’s pro­posal to go ahead with the Part 8 was put to the vote, with 16 mem­bers in favour, 10 against, four not present and two ab­sten­tions.

St Paul’s Lodge on Her­bert Road in Bray.

Cllr Pat Vance.

Cllr Joe Be­han.

Cllr Chris Fox.

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