“Keeping It Green”- An Open Space Strategy For Fingal

The purpose of the document which can be found by following the link below is to define the appropriate strategy for the planning, development and sustainable management of public open space in Fingal.

Currently there is no defined strategy within the Council for prioritising open space management and maintenance. This document brings together in a coherent way existing policies and practices and introduces new and innovative approaches to public open space.

A key concept in the strategy is understanding open space as part of Green Infrastructure. This Strategy seeks to improve open space provision through
better management and to outline qualitative standards for the provision of existing and future open spaces.

The main focus of this Open Space Strategy is publicly owned and/or maintained land, the primary use of which is for outdoor recreation and amenity in Fingal.

Open Space Strategy

Open Spaces – Appendices

Revisions to Conferences and Training Reporting – July Council Meeting

Conferences and Training Reporting

Appendix I-Revised Conference and Training Reporting Template

Appendix II-Conference Report Form

The attached documents are new reporting templates that I proposed at the July Organisation and Procedures meeting of Fingal County Council.

In my view the existing reporting structures were inadequate and it was an issue I felt needed to be addressed.

I was delighted that the new template was agreed by members at the Council meeting.


Fingal County Council – Tree Policy


One of the issues that arises could frequently is in relation to trees in the County. The tree policy states that trees within 5m of a public lighting column would be removed over the 5 years after the policy was adopted. It was adopted in 2010. The adopted tree policy is available on-line by following the link below:

The rationale behind this objective relates to road safety and crime. Dark streets result in people felling unsafe in their own estates and leads to a fear of crime amongst residents and visitors.

Pruning of trees blocking street lights is considered unsustainable by Fingal. Pruning of large trees results in rapid regrowth which quickly blocks the light again. To keep a street light working as designed adjacent street trees would require pruning every 3-4 years which merely results in an unbalanced disfigured tree with multiple pruning wounds which become potential sites of infection by decay causing organisms. Repeated pruning of the sheer number of such trees identified in the area alone would absorb all of the available tree maintenance resources allowing no other maintenance to be done to the detriment of the total tree stock.

The policy of the Council is to put leaflets into the house that are directly affected by proposed works. Where an active residents association exists Council officials are happy to meet and outline the works in advance.

Submission to Fingal County Council – Stage One of the Fingal Development Plan 2017 – 2023

Fingal County Council, in consultation with the community and other stakeholders, is working on a new Development Plan that will shape the future growth of the County over the next 6 years. The review commenced on Friday the 20th of March 2015 and will take up to 2 years to complete, concluding with the publication of the Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023.

The Pre-Draft Plan stage of the Development Plan process ran from March 20th 2015 to 4.30pm on May 15th 2015 and submissions were invited.

My full submission is attached.

Submission to Fingal Development Plan 2017 – 2023

Summary Points:

  1. In tandem with the development of a new plan there needs to be a review of the outgoing plan (2011 -2017). In particular the list of local objectives need to be examined and evaluated. Were they delivered on? If they were delivered on did they make a difference as intended and improve the county? For those objectives that have not been delivered on an explanation and rationale must be outlined as to why they have not been achieved.
  2. One gap in the current plan is the absence of costs associated with delivery of local objectives. It is important that any new plan details what funding will be required to deliver on its objectives. Each local objective should include an estimated cost. It will also show the spread of funding by area so residents can see the investment in their community.
  3. Over the life of the next development plan Fingal will see a significant increase in construction with an estimated 41,000 new homes being built. The aftermath of the construction crash is still being felt and indeed one of the legacies of the boom is poor planning and in many cases poorly developed apartments and houses. The mistakes of the past need to shape how we approach planning. While sustainable planning and development are the buzz words, any new plan need to spell out exactly what that means.
  4. Development contributions under section 48 and section 49 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provide vital funding to infrastructure. Any reductions will have both a serious impact on the ability of the Council to provide the necessary services and the liability for providing services will fall on the commercial sector as well as existing households.
  5. The uncertainty of what a future transport plan may deliver does hamper the County both economically and from a quality of life point of view. The key objective for any transport plan is the ability to serve a growing population. Any decision must be taken with the future population projections in mind.

Plan for Swords Main Street – Presentation by Fingal CoCo 12th March 2015

On 12th March 2015 officials from Fingal County Council presented plans for Swords Main Street to the Balbriggan / Swords Area Committee. The full presentation can be found by clicking the link below:

Presentation – Main Street Swords



National Transport Authority – 2015 Grants Programme

Greater Dublin: Sustainable Transport Measures Grant Programme 2015 Summary

The link below summarizes and outlines projects funded by the National Transport Authority since 2011. It lists every projects funded in Fingal.

STMG Documentation

Fingal County Council Projects Below
Royal Canal Cycle Route (12th Lock-KCC) (CN2)
Planning and design of cycle route on Royal Canal towpath, from 12th Lock to the county boundary with KCC (including ‘deep sinking’ section)
Blanchardstown Sustainable Transport improvements
Design, planning and subsequent implementation of key elements such as pedestrian movement improvements (pedestrian crossings, footpath widening etc.), cycle network development, bus support measures. May include elements of traffic management necessary to support such measures.
Swords Sustainable Transport Improvements
Design, planning and subsequent implementation of key elements such as pedestrian movement improvements (pedestrian crossings, footpath widening etc.), cycle network development, bus support measures. May include elements of traffic management necessary to support such measures.
Ballbriggan Sustainable Transport improvements
Design, planning and subsequent implementation of key elements such as pedestrian movement improvements (pedestrian crossings, footpath widening etc.), cycle network development, bus support measures. May include elements of traffic management necessary to support such measures.
Grove Road cycle route (GDACN route 5A Blanchardtown Centre to Diswellstown Road)
Design and planning of strategic cycle route 5A from Blanchardstown to Diswellstown Road including approaches and linkages to surrounding areas
Swords to Malahide (R106)
Planning and design of a cycle route on the R106 between Swords (junction with R132) and Malahide (DART station / The Hill)
Holywell Distributor Road
Final payment for completion of missing section of distributor road and roundabout that will link up the two existing sections of the distributor road to the north of and west of Holywell housing development in Swords. The provision of this road will complete the road network in the Holywell area, remove traffic from the residential core of the neighbourhood, provide more appropriate routing for bus service and enable traffic improvements measures in the vicinity of the school/local shops.
Ongar Cycle Network
Completion of Cycle Network in Ongar-Castaheany area – Final Payments
Contractual commitments
Finishing out design or construction already committed
S2S Extension Sutton to Malahide Feasibility €20,000
Carrickbrack Road, Howth, footpath €5,000
St Mochta’s School footpath and ramp €5,000
Tara Court, Balbriggan, accessibility ramp €5,000
Donabate Station to Malahide Station €8,855

Total: €1,356,855

Review of Commercial Rates

A new reserved function under the Local Government Reform Act 2014 conferred a power on Councillors to determine the proportion of refund of rates on vacant commercial premises that will apply in Local Electoral Areas.

Following lengthy consideration of the matter at a number of Corporate Policy Group Meetings and at the 2014 Budget Meeting, Councillors decided to continue with the system that has applied up to now with a 100% refund of rates being allowed, subject to the normal legislative criteria being met.

However Councillors made clear at the Budget Meetings that they would like to reconsider this matter in respect of the next financial year. In view of the financial implications for both the Council and ratepayers, it is considered appropriate to commence a review of the matter at this stage so that the appropriate levels of consultation can take place and a position paper agreed. Below is a recent report prepared by the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council and a review of rebates document prepared for the 2015 budget meeting.


Commercial Rates – Rebate Review Document Oct 2014



Analysis of Vacant Properties      By Area



Any decision by Councillors to alter the proportion of the refund rate for the next financial year, would apply to properties that are vacant when the rate is made for 2016. It would not have a retrospective effect. The financial implications of a reduced refund rate cannot be quantified fully, but based on the data we have, it is possible to make the following assumptions based upon a 25% cut:

•Expenditure on refunds of rates would be reduced by up to €1.8m

• Income (i.e. the amount of rates we assess rather than amount we collect), would not change, as we assess rates fully on all properties valued, regardless of whether they are occupied or vacant

• Cash receipts should increase but not by the €1.8m referred to above, as many of the ratepayers in the €1 – €10,000 range will struggle to pay this charge

• Larger ratepayers (in the €50,000 – €500,000 band) are more likely to pay the 25% rates applicable

• Rates arrears are likely to increase (in the short/medium term at least) as we will not be able to process refunds (strike offs) for ratepayers who do not pay the 25% element.

• In the medium/longer term, we may have to make an increased provision for bad debts for rates.

The full impact of any change will not materialise until 2017 as it is at that stage vacancy claims for 2016 will be processed.