A Skerries couple – who had planned to build a hotel in a stunning location in the seaside town but lost their home in the process – are hoping a new glamping plan can end a two-decade history with Ireland’s planning system.
Lison Ryan and her husband Michael Branagan, who both grew up in the city, now have plans to develop a glamping project – as well as a guest house – on a coastal site overlooking the archipelago islands in Holmpatrick, on the outskirts of the city in north Dublin.
Ryan told that Sunday independent that at the time the hotel plans were rejected in 2017, the family had faced potential financial ruin after what they had already invested in their high-profile proposal.
Branagan has since returned to his day job as a qualified chartered accountant, but Ryan is spearheading the family’s bid to get the glamping project over the line on a 15-acre portion of the site.
The site may also be part of the route to be used for the long-awaited coastal path planned for the area, she said.
“We got through it all and dusted ourselves off,” she said. “This was certainly not what we dreamed of when we started this project 20 years ago.
“Our goal was to bring something really good to the city. We lost our homes and went through great anguish. But we are determined to keep fighting and to do something that will be really useful.”
When planners rejected the hotel plan — a decision that sparked local outrage — the family lost control of a five-acre portion of the nearly 30-acre site.
The five acres designated as residential were purchased by a receivership developer, who has since applied for permits to build 18 homes.
But in another twist in the Holmpatrick country saga, this plan has now been rejected by Fingal County Council.
This latest decision on the 18 houses has since been challenged by the developer at An Bord Pleanála (ABP), with the support of Ryan – although she once thought she and her husband would develop this part of the site.
She has written to ABP to support the new housing plan because of the potential impact of rejection on a smaller residential lot still owned by the family.
Ryan recently wrote to both ABP and Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien, unsuccessfully attempting to include the 2017 decision in an inquiry into entirely separate alleged planning matters by former ABP Deputy Chairman Paul Hyde.
Hyde had chaired the three-member board that opposed the Holmpatrick plan, but the much-anticipated report on his alleged conduct in his role at ABP was brought to Minister O’Brien by lawyer Remy Farrell last week.
Prior to its rejection by ABP, the Holmpatrick Cove project had received support from a large majority of Fingal County local councillors, including the current housing secretary.
ABP opposed the plan at the time, claiming it was an inappropriate development for what it called a “rural cluster”. A Green Councilor who criticized the rejection described it in the council chamber as “the most urban rural cluster in Fingal”.
The board’s refusal also sparked protests, marches and petitions from residents in the north Dublin city at the time. The project had received widespread support as it would have provided both a hotel and a swimming pool – both of which the city lacked.
Ryan had also blogged extensively about the experience at the time.
“It is very unusual for people to march for development. The only other example I can think of was the Apple site in Athenry.
“The marches were an example of local democracy and public participation at the highest level. But they were powerless to overturn the planning decision,” she said.
“We’ve always wanted to open up this country to the locals because it’s such a stunning place. But at the moment it is not open to anyone. We were hit hard in 2017 – but we keep fighting,” she said.
https://www.independent.ie/business/commercial-property/holmpatrick-backers-want-to-put-tortuous-planning-saga-behind-them-41878759.html Holmpatrick supporters want to put the intricate planning saga behind them