Bray’s St Paul’s Lodge will be demolished
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.