Please help us fight to protect the playing fields of St. Paul's College, which are surrounded on 3 sides by St. Anne's Park; donate to this fundraising campaign and share this link.
Read on for:
1. Why Fundraise & Why Now?
2. Fundraising Process & Controls
3. What's it all about?
4. Why are we opposing plans to build at St. Paul's College?
5. Further Context & Background
1. Why Fundraise & Why Now ?
With widespread support from the public we have been instrumental until now in putting a stop to this proposed development.
Nonetheless, on 16th October 2019 the Developer submitted a new planning application; and this was while still awaiting the outcome of its Judicial Review of the decision of An Bord Pleanala to reject its earlier proposed development.
We had already been involved in initiating an earlier Judicial Review of the initial ABP decision to approve the proposed development. Thankfully the success of that case largely protected existing funds we raised in 2017. But given this latest move by the developer, we still need to mobilise considerable further funds to conduct the activities needed for a strong defence of St. Annes.
This year we initiated legal proceedings to have the St. Paul’s lands designated a Special Protection Area (SPA). This we believe is the best path to protecting these lands for generations to come. We have legal costs and need professional expertise to support this element of the campaign.
In addition, we may need funds to support further Judicial Reviews in Ireland and possibly in the European Courts.
It is likely that we will need ongoing additional support from professional environmental and planning experts, not least in the very short term to help us prepare comprehensive and coherent responses to the developer’s latest application.
2. Fundraising Process and Controls
A cross communities committee called ‘Save St. Anne’s’ was established in 2017 to fundraise and co-ordinate activities to protect these lands.
Any funds raised:
- are managed in accordance with Company Law by a Chartered Certified Accountant.
- will be spent carefully and will be tracked for audit and reconciliation purposes.
- that are unspent at the end of this campaign will be given to a well-known and registered charity.
To stand with this campaign, please make a donation and share this link.
3. What’s it all about?
St. Anne’s park on the north side of Dublin, is Dublin City Council’s largest and most important park. It was recently ranked among the top five Green Flag parks in the world, in the People’s Choice competition.
The St. Paul’s playing fields run along a large portion of the main avenue of St. Anne’s park but they do not belong to Dublin City Council.
Up until 2015, the fields belonged to the Vincentian Fathers of St. Paul’s college.
In 2015 they were sold to a property development company which proceeded to made several applications to build on them.
An Bord Pleanála ultimately refused permission to build on the fields in 2018. The developer challenged that decision and it is currently the subject of judicial review proceedings in the High Court.
While awaiting the outcome of the Judicial Review, the developer submitted a new, far larger application. Details can be found on the developers website . This latest proposal is significantly larger than all previous applications. Submissions on this most recent application must be with An Bord Pleanála by November 19th 2019.
4. Why are we opposing plans to build at St. Paul's College?
We are opposed to any building whatsoever on the St. Paul’s fields because of their sensitive location to the fabric of St. Anne's Park, running along one side of its main avenue which is surrounded on both sides by parkland. We believe any building here will negatively impact:
-wildlife living, breeding and feeding in the park and its environs
-the fragile ecosystem of the park
-the protected biosphere at Bull Island, for which St. Anne’s itself is the buffer zone.
But most of all, it will impact the people of Dublin who love and visit the worldwide award-winning park, who understand its history and who know its value can’t be counted in euros per acre.
5. Further Context and Background
In 2015, the Vincentian Father’s of St. Paul’s College in Raheny, Dublin, sold five of their six school football pitches to a property development company for a reported sum of €25 million.
The sale came as a complete surprise to the school community and people in the wider north Dublin area.
At that time, the lands were heavily used on a regular basis by the students at St. Paul’s school and by three local Rugby, Soccer and GAA clubs. The lands were also periodically used for other amenity purposes, e.g. local community games.
The land use zoning for St. Paul’s is Z15. Unlike Z1 zoning which is used to designate land for residential use, the primary purpose of Z15 zoning is to protect land for institutional and community use. Under Z15, residential development is only ‘open for consideration’.
Z15 lands are considered highly desirable by developers as they are frequently in the sylvan settings of religious institutions. Unfortunately, in the last few years, Z15 protections have been undermined and the designation is now viewed both by developers and by the owners of many of these religious /institutional lands, as interchangeable with Z1 across the Dublin City Council area.
We must be very clear in stating that the St. Paul’s pitches are in private ownership. They do not belong to Dublin City Council.
However, much like the Phoenix Park, where several private properties are physically located inside the park, the St. Paul’s pitches are physically located inside St. Anne’s park.
Surrounded on three sides by the public park, it is not possible to access the St. Paul’s pitches without entering through the park, or through St. Paul’s school grounds.
They run along the historic Main Avenue of this former Guinness estate, separated from the park by a fence.
Such is the sensitivity of their location that when the Vincentian Fathers applied for planning permission to put up this fence, the Planning Department at Dublin City Council raised several concerns including visual amenity and damage to mature trees.
It becomes obvious on walking the perimeter of these lands, that anything which happens inside the fence will impact everything outside the fence.
The St. Paul’s lands present an extremely attractive development opportunity because of their location. It is notable that as part of the current planning proposal, there are to be 4 entrance points directly into the park, from the development.
Just 18 months ago, An Bord Pleanála refused permission to build at St. Paul’s. The main reason for this refusal emerged during the planning process, when the lands were identified as the most important ex-situ feeding site for endangered light bellied Brent geese who winter on Bull Island.
Under EU legislation, and applying the precautionary principle, An Bord Pleanála were obliged by law to refuse permission.
The land owner sought a judicial review of this refusal and they are still awaiting a High Court decision on that case.
In the intervening months, the land owner ceased to maintain the lands at St. Paul’s. This had the aim of undermining the grounds for ABP's refusal by deterring the return of the migratory Brent geese last Winter who now compete for limited grass resources on the one pitch that the school has retained and maintained for its own use.
Thank you for your incredibly valuable and much needed ongoing support to protect St. Annes Park. Together we make a difference.