Motion on Dail Adjournment Debate
Early last Saturday I flew in across the North Fringe region returning from Galway with Aer Arann. From the air, the starkness of the construction closedown in the area is immediately visible. Large cleared areas of fields are marked out with roads and boundary fences. But all activity has effectively ceased since early last Autumn.
Vital public transport, shopping, health, security and community services remain to be provided for the major districts of the North Fringe such as The Coast, Stapolin, Clongriffin, Beaupark and Belmayne. The long promised new Dart Station for Baldoyle/Clongriffin has still not been delivered and new residents are now hoping that the latest target date of October 2009 will finally prove to be accurate. In the south of Belmayne construction seems to have stopped completely over a vast area of apartments. And from Clare Hall Avenue, the vast new estate looks unfinished and uncared for.
In the same district four months ago local residents received the shocking news that the proposed new Town Square at Belmayne/Clare Hall was not now proceeding as planned. The key Belmayne developers Stanley Holdings pulled out of the purchase and development of the 9.3 hectare Town Square site agreed under a Section 183 agreement with Dublin City Council in August 2006. The Belmayne Town Square was to be a centrepiece of the North Fringe development linked by a new long urban boulevard to Clongriffin and Stapolin Town Centre in the east.
The astonishing debacle of the Belmayne Town Centre is typical of the poor planning and management of the new North Fringe by Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council also of the continuing serious deficit in social, economic, public transport and other essential infrastructure for the development.
Over seven years ago I myself proposed the local informal stakeholders’ body called the North Fringe Forum which tries to invigilate the vast new North Fringe development. The Forum is concerned with a development of potentially 25,000 to 30,000 housing units and ancillary commercial development which, of course, is easily the largest such development in the history of the state.
Yet unlike much smaller areas like Adamstown, Hansfield and Balgaddy, the North Fringe is not a Strategic Development Zone. I am now calling on Minister Gormley to give the North Fringe SDZ status without further delay. Only by placing the North Fringe Forum on a statutory SDZ basis and insisting that the Dublin City and Fingal County Managers establish a clear five to seven year scoping and planning timetable can the urgent needs of existing new residents be met and a full sustainable development plan activated for this crucially important new Urban Quarter of Dublin City and Fingal County.
At present the Commercial Court is hearing an action by Menolly Homes, Hansfield Developments and associated companies against three companies in the Lagan Group including Irish Asphalt, the owners of the Bay Lane quarry in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. The matter is now sub judice and the judgement will have great consequences for the young constituents I represent in several areas of the North Fringe.
The issue at stake, of course, relates to the allegations of serious pyrite contamination of infill used in housing construction in Clongriffin, The Coast, Drynam Hall Kinsealy and in several other areas of North and West Dublin and East Leinster. While it is important that this matter is now being heard before the Commercial Court, the public authorities and specifically Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council and the Minister for the Environment continue to have a profound responsibility for the treatment of young householders resulting from the incredible debacle now before the courts.
For nearly two years, I have pleaded with Minister John Gormley to establish a Task Force on pyrite contamination of buildings during the Celtic Tiger period along the lines of the action of the government of Quebec Province in Canada. I have asked him perhaps over twenty times to immediately close Bay Lane and carry out a full traceability audit of the two million tonnes of infill material used from this quarry. I have also asked him repeatedly to invigilate all the other quarries in Leinster for possible pyrite contamination. Why has the Minister and Leader of the Green Party stood helplessly on the side lines while young householders (whose homes are literally coming apart) were left to fend for themselves while companies like Killoe Developments refused to take calls for months on end about houses they had build and which young householders had bought in good faith.
Surely this is another great betrayal by the Green Party and a dereliction of duty by the Minister for the Environment? It is now abundantly clear that the building regulations were greatly and deliberately weakened by this present 12-year-old government. Indeed, the mother of a property owner in Clongriffin says that former Taoiseach Ahern totally deregulated the construction industry. Up to September ’07 the Dublin City Manager and Fingal County Manager repeatedly stated that the implementation of those building regulations which we then had were largely “self-regulatory.” In Autumn ’07 Minister Gormley tried to close the stable door when the horse was clearly gone with his letter to local authorities on regulatory responsibility.
But the key responsibility is now his alone. I appeal again to him to establish an SDZ for the North Fringe and a Task Force on Pyrites.