Planning appeal by Skerries Community Association to Fingal County Council’s decision to GRANT permission for a Drive-thru restaurant in Skerries

Click on the link below to see the full appeal made by Skerries Community Association regarding the permission for a Drive-thru restaurant in Skerries. The text (without the graphics) is also replicated on this page.

SCA Drive Thru appeal to ABP Fin 26 Mch

Dear Secretary,

This is the written planning appeal by Skerries Community Association with reference to Fingal County Council’s decision to GRANT permission in the case of application reference F18A/0340, for a Drive-thru restaurant in Skerries, Co. Dublin.

Consistent with the Fingal County Development Plan 2017 – 2023, Skerries Community Association supports the fair and transparent application of planning policies that seek to develop and improve, in a sustainable manner, the social, economic, environmental and cultural assets of the community. We do not believe that these objectives have been met in this case.

Grounds of Appeal:

During the subject planning procedure, Skerries Community Association made constructive written observations in response to the original submission for planning permission in respect of 3 important provisions:

1. The Local Setting and Zoning Objectives 2. The very close proximity to a local school 3. Conflicts with active modes of transport / pedestrian accessibility

Following the Manager’s Order and further submission of “Additional Information” by the applicant, Skerries Community Association became increasingly concerned that these planning provisions were not adequately considered. The Association then submitted further observations

Skerries Community Association: /

re-iterating these points as grounds to REFUSE permission. However, the planning authority has since formulated a decision to GRANT permission and, in the view of the Association, did not sufficiently address our observations and the important planning provisions contained therein.

These same grounds for refusing permission are repeated below and Skerries Community Association now appeals to An Bord Pleanála to overturn Fingal County Council’s decision in this case.

1. Zoning Objectives & Local Setting

In the “Additional Information” submission, the applicant affirms and agrees with the Local Authority’s view that “the proposed development is compliant with the ‘LC’ Land use Zoning Objective”. The SCA disagrees strongly. Specifically, a drive-thru restaurant is not compliant with the ‘LC’ zoning objective, including to “minimise the need for use of the private car and encourage pedestrians, cyclists and the use of public transport”.

In the Additional Information, the applicant says the development reinforces the “Skerries Point Shopping Centre retail viability….to serve current and future demand”. All zoned residential lands local to the centre (Barnageeragh Cove and Kellys Bay) are nearing completion and full occupancy. Future local demand growth will be modest. There are vacant units at the existing centre. The applicant seems to claim to support a “Local Centre” objective, while seeking to underpin “viability” of an under-occupied pre-existing local centre by attracting vehicular traffic to a drive-thru restaurant from beyond the local demand zone. This is clearly at odds with the zoning objective, which requires a local centre to be “at a scale to cater for both existing residential development and zoned undeveloped, now or in the future” as well as “encourage pedestrians, cyclists and the use of public transport”. This proposal clearly seeks to expand the capacity of the applicant’s “shopping centre” beyond the local demands and use for which the site is zoned. This is affirmed by the numerous vacant units at the existing centre, despite full occupancy of the local residential zones. Currently vacant units include large units suitable for a ‘walk-in’ restaurant that could “serve current and future demand”, should it exist.

Developing a drive-thru restaurant serves only to displace zone-compliant businesses. It is noted that there is already an appropriately scaled walk-in fast food amenity at Skerries Point that amply meet the needs of the local catchment and that Objective DMS107 outlines among other provisions that development proposals for fast food/takeaway outlets will be strictly controlled and all such proposals are required to address …..the cumulative effect of fast food outlets on the amenities of an area”. Despite the applicant’s decision to call the local centre a “shopping centre”, the local infrastructure cannot support a commercial remit beyond that for which the site is zoned. The proposed development is not zone-compliant and does not represent a “positive and complementary addition to the range of retail services currently being offered” as claimed. It is in fact a considerable threat to the proper functioning of a Local Centre and adjacent residential zones and schools.

Relevant Fingal County Development Plan 2017-2023 Provisions Zoning: Local Centre – The aim is to ensure local centres contain a range of community, recreational and retail facilities, including medical/ dental surgeries and childcare facilities, at a scale to cater for both existing residential development and zoned undeveloped lands, as appropriate, … The development will strengthen local retail provision in accordance with the County Retail Strategy. Development Management Standards & Fast Food/Takeaway Outlets Fast food outlets have the potential to cause disturbance, nuisance and detract from the amenities of an area and as such, proposals for new or extended outlets will be carefully considered. Objective DMS107 – Development proposals for fast food/takeaway outlets will be strictly controlled and all such proposals are required to address the following:

• The cumulative effect of fast food outlets on the amenities of an area.

• The effect of the proposed development on the existing mix of land uses and activities in an area.

• Opening/operational hours of the facility.

• The location of vents and other external services and their impact on adjoining amenities in terms of noise/smell/visual impact. Objective ED54 – Prevent an over-supply or dominance of fast food outlets, takeaways, off licences, and betting offices in…..local centres to ensure that injury is not caused to the amenities of these …. centres through the loss of retail opportunities. Objective SKERRIES 12 – Continue to support the delivery of enhanced recreational, community, social, youth and educational facilities in the area.

2. School Proximity

The applicant’s response to Additional Request No.1 is not satisfactory. It proposes that “responsibility for access to the proposed development should fundamentally lie with parents and guardians”. Indeed, the provisions of the Fingal Development Plan and Objective DMS108 is the mechanism through which the community, including parents, wishes to exercise that responsibility. Planners must also exercise their responsibility in this case. The facility is likely to be operated by a fast food franchise with significant marketing reach, including to children. The additional information details that elevated signs will be in full view of the school/childcare entrances as well as from recreational space used by teenagers in Kelly’s Bay & Barnageeragh Cove. Parents who are trying to protect and properly develop good dietary habits and wellbeing in their children will not appreciate having to compete with such messaging on a daily basis. Objectives such as DMS108 exist precisely to give parents the power to defend themselves against such pressures within their community, through the planning system.

Relevant Fingal County Development Plan 2017-2023 Provisions Objective DMS108 – Give careful consideration to the appropriateness and location of fast food outlets in the vicinity of schools and, where considered appropriate, to restrict the opening of new fast food/takeaway outlets in close proximity to schools so as to protect the health and wellbeing of school-going children.

Image and proposed signage from additional information raises concerns.

3. Sustainable Transport

The Additional Information only highlights how the proposed layout will not only attract more vehicular traffic by design but will frustrate cycle and pedestrian access to other zone- compliant local amenities, schools and childcare in and adjacent to the Local Centre. It is positioned within a particularly sensitive site with respect to facilitating active modes of travel. There is a specific objective to develop a greenway through this zone (see relevant local objectives in the current County Development Plan). Skerries Community Association, through its Skerries Cycling Initiative promotes such developments and is particularly concerned that the proposal will block any future opportunity to facilitate a cycleway parallel to the railway track for a safe and uninterrupted cycle/pathway along Barnageeragh Road to the railway station. The very confined site straddles the margin between the railway line and the road. The additional information indicates no spatial provision to facilitate such sustainable transport to what is a Local Centre. On the contrary, the resulting road layout facilitates vehicular access to the drive-thru, frustrating access to zone-compliant facilities including a directly adjacent child care facility, specifically discouraging “pedestrians, cyclists and the use of public transport”.

Image from additional information showing no spatial provision for a cycle route along the railway line.

Relevant Fingal County Development Plan 2017-2023 Provisions Zoning: Local Centre – The aim is to ensure local centres contain a range of community, recreational and retail facilities, at ……. locations which minimise the need for use of the private car and encourage pedestrians, cyclists and the use of public transport. Objective SKERRIES 10 – Promote and ensure a safe and convenient road, pedestrian and cycle system highlighting accessibility and connectivity both within the town as well as between the town and surrounding towns and villages. Objective MT17 – Improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity to schools and third level colleges and identify and minimise barriers to children walking and cycling to primary and secondary school Objective SKERRIES 11 – Promote and facilitate increased permeability and accessibility for those using active travel modes, prams, wheelchairs, personal scooters and other similar modes. Objective SKERRIES 13 – Promote and facilitate the development of the Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking Scheme along the Coast Road within the lifetime of this Development Plan. Objective MT21 – Ensure that as soon as possible, but by the end of the lifetime of the Development Plan the environment in the immediate vicinity of schools is a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment, and drop-off by car within a given distance restricted.

Skerries Community Association recommends that An Bord Pleanála refuse permission for this planning application.

Yours sincerely,

_______________________________ Date: ________________________

Michael McKenna, Chairperson

Skerries Community Association