Residents lodge objections over plans to demolish Beechpark

By Aideen O'Flaherty

TWO residents’ associations and a local TD have lodged appeals with An Bord Pleanála against South Dublin County Council’s decision to grant permission for the demolition of former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave’s house at Beechpark, on Scholarstown Road in Rathfarnham.

The local authority granted permission to Ardstone Homes Ltd for the demolition and for enabling works last month.

Liam Cosgrave 17 compressor

Beechpark, the former home of Liam Cosgrave

The site had been the subject of media attention last year, as archaeological digs uncovered an “early medieval enclosed settlement”, according to an archaeological assessment that was submitted to the council last April.

Human skeletal remains were found on the site in August 2018, and a total of 19 test trenches were excavated on site, which confirmed the presence of a ringfort type enclosure – the skeletal remains were uncovered within the interior of the enclosure.

In a separate planning application, Ardstone Homes lodged plans for a 594-unit residential development at the site, 482 of which are to be build-to-rent units and 112 of which are to be build-to-sell units, but a decision has not yet been made by ABP in relation to this fast-track application.

Concerning the application for demolition and enabling works, the Foxrock-based Marston Planning Consultancy lodged an appeal on August 14, on behalf of the Dargle Wood Residents’ Association, against the council’s grant of permission.

In the appeal, where the appellant also requested that ABP hold an oral hearing, it was outlined that the residents’ association’s view is that the bat survey that was carried out is “inadequate”, as it was carried out at a time “that is likely to not offer the most robust survey information”, and that “no survey of the roof-space of the house to be demolished was undertaken as part of the survey”.

They added in their appeal that even though Liam Cosgrave’s house is not a protected structure, the house “has significant historical connections and it would seem remiss, irrespective of the architectural merit of the house, to not have undertaken an assessment of the architectural significance of the property.”

They concluded their appeal by stating that SDCC’s original decision should be overturned “on the basis that the development will be premature pending a residential scheme for the site, and pending the finalisation of the archaeological excavation under licence.”

The Glendoher and District Residents’ Association in Rathfarnham also lodged an appeal on August 14, where they also called for ABP to hold an oral hearing and listed several reasons why they believe their appeal should be upheld, including the view that the planned works are “premature” and “contrary to proper planning”.

Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart has lodged an appeal on behalf of local residents, where he stated that the primary reason for his appeal “is based on the fact that significant archaeological remains and structures have been discovered/uncovered at this site.”

Fianna Fáil councillor for Firhouse-Bohernabreena, Deirdre O’Donovan, told The Echo: “I coordinated all of the local residents’ associations and those in the vicinity of the site [to lodge the appeal].

“We’ve got an architect and planner on board to put in the best possible appeal that we could.

“We can’t understand the council’s ruling, that they can tear down the house to carry out the development work.

“There’s so much heritage in South County Dublin and we don’t have such a good record for cherishing and protecting it.

“[The site] is part of our heritage, and it’s so important for us to preserve it.”

There was four-week window following the council’s grant of permission where appeals were accepted by An Bord Pleanála, and a decision has not yet been made about the appeals.

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