Green Party representative for Balbriggan Joe O’Brien has called on Fingal County Council to make the new planned development in Castlelands the toast of Balbriggan. His call came following the passing of the deadline for submissions on the Castlelands Masterplan. Mr. O’Brien stated that:
I am looking forward to the publication of the new high-level socio-economic development strategy for Balbriggan in the autumn. It is absolutely crucial that it sees the dawn of a new way of doing things in Balbriggan in terms of development. So much development has happened in Balbriggan in recent years that has not had the good of the town and its local communities at it core. The Masterplan for Castlelands will be a litmus test to tell the people of Balbriggan whether the Council mean business as usual or a fundamentally different way of developing the town. The development of Castlelands must be a central part of the strategy not just parallel to it.
I call on the Council to ensure that further Castlelands development will be exceptional, with high spec housing (including A energy rating) and unparalleled amenities and infrastructure. The quality of life for residents should be prioritised over the number of units that can be squeezed into the assigned area. A mix of housing tenure and size should be provided including building suitable for supported housing for older people. The masterplan should be conducted with the Fingal Age Friendly strategy in mind.
The currently assigned green space is inadequate. I call on the Council to dramatically increase the size and number of green areas in the current map. At the moment what is visible is one single limited green area surrounded by potentially very dense levels of housing. This kind of minimalist approach to green areas in Fingal is all too common. Its also key that the plan includes an adequately large community centre, all weather pitches and assigned locations for several grass playing pitches for GAA, soccer and rugby.
Within and around the new development cycle lanes and walkways should be given priority over vehicles especially re connections to local schools. There is also a huge opportunity to properly connect the new development with the beach, Ardgillan Demense and Skerries. I would suggest this could be facilitated by a pedestrian and cycle lane bridge over the railway and the Skerries-Balbriggan road (R127) which would connect up with the footpath to the Lady’s Stairs and thus the beach and Ardgillan.