Monkstown residents: ‘no high-rise ghettos for us please’.

On Tuesday, the High Court overturned a previously approved proposal to build 22 houses and 276 apartments at Monkstown, in south county Dublin. Justice David Holland ruled in favour of the Monkstown Road Residents Association and three named individual objectors.

Among the grounds for the objections were that the proposed site was used by wintering birds and something to do with bats. It was also found that the inclusion of a nine-storey block was in contravention of the local Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown Council’s guidelines on height restrictions.

The original campaign by locals around Monkstown village centred on what a Facebook page described as an “obnoxious” plan to replace the old Dalguise villa on the proposed site with a “huge rental ghetto.”

The latter was possibly more of a concern than migrating birds and breeding bats, especially given the “social” criteria that are now attached to such developments.

Bully for them I say. And fair play to Dún Laoghaire Council for at least attempting to impose restrictions on the height of high-rise apartment blocks. Unlike, for example, Dublin City Council where there are no such barriers to turning the city into the Bronx, and where the draft Development Plan for 2022-2028 includes no proposals to place an upper limit on the number of storeys to which the invariably one and two bedroom apartment blocks may ascend to.

I happen to reside in a part of Dublin that is unfortunate enough to be under the control of Dublin City Council and an elected Council that for the greater part you would not ask to mind your garden, never mind be expected to ensure that the city of your birth is not transformed into some dreadful dystopian mess. On every level.

As someone who used often to walk along the Royal Canal with the bowlers, I can testify that the area now completely dominated by completed – and in the process of being completed – high rise blocks, has just as much claim to being treated the same as Monkstown village when it comes to local heritage and environment.

There are historic bridges and buildings now dwarfed by these eyesores, a long-standing local market gardening business now set in the midst of it all, and a multiplicity of displaced wildlife, including different species of birds, mammals and fish. I am not aware that anyone objected to the high rises in my area on that basis. Certainly, if they did so, they were not given much of a hearing and no local political backing.

Indeed, when some of the local councillors were asked about one set of apartment blocks by residents who had been previously assured that they would not one day wake up to see such monstrosities in place of the distant Dublin and Wicklow mountains, they were told that there were no such plans. Some of them paid for this with their seats in the last local elections.

There is also of course the fact that the commitment to “social housing” and “diversity” and all the rest trumps every other thing for the sort of Councillors that are mostly elected in Dublin working class and not-so-well-connected middle class areas. The “social” part and the “diverse” parts usually take no account of the existing social and environmental concerns of people whose homes these places are now.

So well done to the good burghers of Monkstown and environs. It demonstrates the value of local communities ensuring that ideological and monetary prerogatives are not always allowed to take precedence. At least not in their back yard.

It also perhaps demonstrates the necessity for those of us in less favoured parts of Dublin and elsewhere to start to elect people for whom meaningless jargon and Mammon – easy bedfellows these days all clad in the same happy-clappy colours – are not the guiding principles.


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