Fingal Development Plan 2023-2029: Consultation Phase 1

Sustainable Skerries prepared and made a submission for Phase 1 of the consultation phase.

Below is some information about the process, followed by our submission. Click here to jump straight to the submission.

The Seven Themes

Guiding Questions for a Skerries-Focused Submission

Based on the questions suggested by Fingal County Council.

Theme 1a: People and Place: Housing

  1. How should the new Fingal Development Plan promote compact growth within its settlements in line with national and regional guidance?
  2. Where should new housing be provided to accommodate demand without contributing to urban sprawl and ensuring cnosolidated sustainable growth?
  3. How should the Development Plan promote resilience (i.e. an ability to respond to change including Climate Change) in our urban and rural centres?
  4. What types of homes are required to meet future demand?
  5. How should the new Plan ensure housing choice for all residents?

Theme 1b: People and Place: Public Spaces / Facilities

  1. Which public spaces do you love and why? Especially in and around Skerries.
  2. What types of new public spaces should be provided in Skerries?
  3. How should the Development Plan ensure the provision of social and community infrastructure (e.g schools, creches, community & sports centres etc.) in new residential areas? Are there enough in current residential areas in Skerries?
  4. How has your experience of Covid-19 altered your view of your public spaces and facilities? Do you have any ideas on how they should develop into the future?
  5. How should the new Fingal Development Plan support new ways of working for Skerries residents / employees? Is there a requirement to provide work hubs within the community?
  6. How should the new Development Plan ensure that outdoor spaces improve the Heath & Wellbeing and sense of Community for the citizens of Fingal?

Theme 2: Climate Action

  1. How can the Development Plan address the challenges associated with Climate Change in order to facilitate Fingal’s transition to a low carbon society?
  2. Are there specific climate action policies and objectives that you would like to see included in the next Development Plan?
  3. When it comes to land use, what are the key actions we can take to reduce the impacts of Climate Change?
  4. What policies or objectives should be introduced to help reduce countywide emissions?
  5. How should we manage our coastal areas as the population of Fingal continues to grow? How does that apply to Skerries?

Theme 3: Connectivity and Movement

  1. What are the key connectivity and movement issues affecting workers, residents and visitors in Skerries?
  2. How can we make it easier to get around in Skerries?
  3. How do we increase walking, cycling and public transport use and reduce car dependency?
  4. How can the safety of cyclists and pedestrians be improved? What measures could be put in place to make this happen?
  5. Should we be making [greater] use of shared community cars and bicycle schemes in Skerries?
  6. What other mobility measures could be put in place to reduce car use?

Theme 4: Employment, Economy & Dublin Airport

  1. How can the Development Plan promote Skerries as a uniquely attractive place for business?
  2. and in an addition to the questions Fingal ask: … Should it? Why? Why not?
  3. How can the Development Plan support existing businesses and further economic growth in Skerries?
  4. How can the Development Plan ensure that the potential of our youth is developed and retained within Fingal? / in Skerries?
  5. Are there key sectors of the economy that you think could/should be located in Skerries?
  6. How can the Development Plan support the new work practices that have changed considerably since Covid-19?
  7. How can the Development Plan optimize the potential of the tourism sector in Skerries?

Theme 5: Cultural Heritage

  1. How can we best protect against the detrimental effects of Climate Change on the heritage resource in Skerries?
  2. How can we balance the need for new development with the protection and enhancement of our heritage resource?
  3. What policies and/or incentives do you think can encourage heritage-led regeneration with the retention and reuse of traditional and historic buildings?
  4. Can we better protect and promote our archaeological resource for the benefit of local communities and to attract tourism?
  5. Are there any individual buildings or groups of buildings, Industrial Heritage Sites and features that should be added to the Record of Protected Structures or designated as Architectural Conservation Areas? Why?

Theme 6: Green Infrastructure & Natural Heritage

  1. How can we best protect against the detrimental effects of Climate Change on the heritage resource in Skerries?
  2. How can we balance the need for new development with the protection and enhancement of our heritage resource?
  3. What policies and/or incentives do you think can encourage heritage-led regeneration with the retention and reuse of traditional and historic buildings?
  4. Can we better protect and promote our archaeological resource for the benefit of local communities and to attract tourism?
  5. Are there any individual buildings or groups of buildings, Industrial Heritage Sites and features that should be added to the Record of Protected Structures or designated as Architectural Conservation Areas? Why?

Theme 7: Infrastructure & Utilities

  1. What physical infrastructure is needed to support people living, working, and visiting Skerries?
  2. How can the Development Plan best support and promote new energy generation technologies?
  3. How can Fingal’s Development Plan support more innovative forms of waste treatment, waste reduction, recycling and energy re-use?
  4. How can the Development Plan improve digital connectivity in your area?

Some Background Material

From the profile of the DBEC document, source: https://minutes3.belfastcity.gov.uk/documents/s85192/Item%203%20d%20Appendix%201%20UU_DCU_Dublin-Belfast%20Economic%20Corridor%20Profile.pdf 
See also https://www.dbec.info/  and also https://www.fingal.ie/news/fingal-be-part-dublin-belfast-economic-corridor 
Environmental resilience and management 20. The challenge and rationale could not be clearer as both the UK and Ireland have declared a climate emergency’ as global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. The 68 | P a g e findings of successive IPCC reports are stark ‘climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C’. 21. Moving to the Corridor, the climate modelling simulations suggest the greatest increase in mean annual temperatures in the east of the country, mean annual spring and summer precipitation levels are projected to decrease, and heavy rainfall events will increase in winter and autumn. Storms affecting Ireland will decrease in frequency but will increase in intensity thus bringing an increased risk of damage and coastal flooding. 22. These challenges will only be met by collective methods of environmental resilience or effectively adapting and planning so that the negative climate impacts can be reduced, while also taking advantage of any positive outcomes, either allowing the system to return to its previous state of to adapt to a new state. Environmental management is equally important and will involve the protection of natural assets, human welfare, local distinctiveness of places, productivity and livelihoods, food security and reputation for stable and secure environments for investment in the Corridor. 23. The alignment of the adaptation frameworks North and South in the Corridor offers the opportunity for collaboration to collectively address these shared challenges which are not confined by spatial or administrative boundaries. Some initial ideas ‘floated’ as possible actions in the environmental resilience and management area include: • Protection of existing critical infrastructure, including energy, communications, roads, public transport, water and coastal and inland flood defence systems. • Supporting the harnessing of the potential for the development of new regional renewable energy (wind – onshore and offshore – and wave). • Further development of green infrastructure on the Corridor through the provision of long distance cycling and walking routes. • Provision of mechanisms to continue the management of the Corridor’s offshore resources (energy generation, marine transport and fishing and aquaculture) in light of the particular challenges with Brexit. • Developing collaborative frameworks in the areas of information sharing, researching new technologies and shared learning in public sector energy efficiency efforts and developing the circular economy

Context: Fingal County Council Climate Change Action Plan

Fingal’s Socio-Economic Context

A key strategy for future economic development in Fingal includes appropriately locating intensive employment uses adjacent to public transport networks, and where appropriate, residential developments; encouraging existing economic clusters and developing new clustering opportunities; and regenerating inefficiently performing business and industrial parks, land, and buildings.
The next Development Plan will aim to create sustainable compact communities with improved housing choice, access to social and economic opportunities, enhanced services and amenities for a resident population of some 1.65m people in the Metropolitan area by 2031.

From the Strategic Consultation Document, march 2021

A bit about the current Development Plan

Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023 Skerries

Screenshots taken from the pdf of the Written Statement available on the Fingal website:

Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023 Sheet 5 Skerries

Screenshots taken from the map available on the Fingal County Council website:

Sustainable Skerries Submission Phase 1

Uploaded on 12 May 2021.

FDP Draft Submission by Theme

General comments and Introduction

This submission is made by Sustainable Skerries, a committee of the Skerries Community Association.

Our view is that any development needs to be not only sustainable, but regenerative.

We do not intend to speak for “the” Skerries community, even though we have hosted a well-attended public online discussion which has informed some of our views.

We note that in the current County Development Plan, it was the intention to draw up local plans, which however did not happen.

A word on Agriculture

Currently, there is an absence of the theme of agriculture in the draft document.

Organic and regenerative agriculture, especially for market gardening, can:

  • contribute to the national policy of increasing the percentage of organic agriculture in Ireland
  • help increase the amount of organic produce available from Irish sources – most organic produce purchased in Ireland is actually imported, including many products that can easily be grown here
  • help counteract climate change through drawing carbon down from the atmosphere
  • regenerative agriculture (using no or low tillage) can help mitigate the consequences of climate change:
    • less erosion due to better soil retention during heavy rainfall 
    • better water retention, thus enabling the plants to deal better with long dry spells
    • a higher percentage of the water falling during heavy rainfalls can be absorbed by soil farmed regeneratively
  • help biodiversity: Especially pollinators suffer from the use of herbicides and insecticides in conventional agriculture.

For those reasons, it should be given a high status in the draft development plan. 

The rate of adoption of organic regenerative farming in the farming community could be improved by supporting farmers’ markets and farm shops, by committing to use preferably organic local produce, using an approach similar to the Green Public Procurement rules employed by Sweden since 2006, which have been shown to have had tangible success.

Leading by example is another objective that could be added, namely the objective that Fingal County Council should identify land from its own land bank in each local electoral area to set up model organic, regenerative farms, which could either be run by employed farm managers or by local farmers on behalf of Fingal County Council.

Theme 1: People and Place

We welcome many of the ideas  contained in this section. However, there is a need to lock in the provision of social and community infrastructure in existing areas, not just for new developments. 

A process should be built into the next development plan that would see the drawing up of individual plans for established towns which are not earmarked for future growth, such as our town, Skerries – a bit along the lines mentioned in the People and Places webinar. It is important that expertise and administrative support is provided for communities at local level. In many towns, there are a number of community groups, sports organisations, etc., many of which are in contact with Fingal County Council – what is missing is a local connection between them, somewhat like a localised version of the county-wide Public Participation Network. 

How should the new Fingal Development Plan promote compact growth within its settlements in line with national and regional guidance?Compact development can lead to high-quality, very pleasant, places for individuals and families to live in. Compact development can also lead to the opposite. The key difference lies in the quality of the developments.From a sustainability / regenerative point of view, it is also important that the full environmental impact of any new development will be considered, such as active transport, energy (net-energy positive housing is possible) and biodiversity, including the provision of community gardens as part of the shared green space and allotments within walking distance. This is especially important as compact developments often mean the loss or drastic reduction of individual garden space.
Where should new housing be provided to accommodate demand without contributing to urban sprawl and ensuring consolidated sustainable growth?New housing should be provided within the existing boundaries of established towns, such as Skerries, as long as that does not impact negatively on biodiversity (i.e. areas which are currently natural habitats and of high biodiversity value should not be used).For each town, it would be very useful to undertake a study of the built-up area in order to identify where new development could take place.Given the importance of local, seasonal, regenerative and organic agriculture, it should be avoided to use good agricultural land for future housing development.
How should the Development Plan promote resilience (i.e. an ability to respond to change including Climate Change) in our urban and rural centres?In smaller urban centres like Skerries, the Development Plan should ensure no new development takes place in areas that may be affected by erosion or floodingensure that as much as possible is available locally – that includes the idea of the walkable / cyclable 15 min town as well as the need to ensure as much of our daily needs as possible are met from within the local area (especially food, but also work through e.g. remote working hubs)Existing areas close to the sea should be examined, and management plans need to be drawn up, based on the likely changes to sea level in the next years.Also, surfaces need to be as water permeable as possible. For instance, rainwater run-off could be reduced by replacing hard surfaces in car parks with water permeable paving. This should also be compulsory for the drives of new housing and grants be given for conversions. The installation of rainwater harvesting should also be compulsory in new developments and installation in existing buildings (private and commercial) should be incentivised
What types of homes are required to meet future demand? How should the new Plan ensure housing choices for all residents?One type of housing in very short supply in Skerries is that for “downsizers,” for people who would like to move to smaller units, within walking distance of amenities. Provision of such units would free up the typically larger units those couples or single people are currently living in. 
Which public spaces do you love and why? What types of new public spaces should be provided?In Skerries, we have access to a wonderful coastline. From the North Strand, around Red Island and on to the South Strand, all the way to the Rugby Club, it is easy to access. Where there are new areas, the coast should be sensitively developed as an amenity for the local community.In Skerries itself, there is no wooded area. We would benefit from some additional micro woods.We do love Ardgillan, and are looking forward to better, easier access to its park once the planned Coastal Way is finished.More public performance spaces are needed, both indoor and outdoor.
How should the Development Plan ensure the provision of social and community infrastructure (e.g. schools, creches, community and sports centres etc.) in new residential areas?The provision of social and community infrastructure needs to be an objective not only for new residential areas but also for existing areas. We think the mechanism outlined in the webinar of analysing a locality’s needs and, in consultation with the local community and other stakeholders, working out what the local needs are, should be applied to all towns and villages in Fingal.For instance, Skerries would highly benefit from a remote working hub, and from a theatre / arts centre.
How has your experience of Covid-19 altered your view of your public spaces and facilities? Do you have any ideas on how they should develop into the future?More outdoor facilities (with some sort of protection against the elements) will be required, such as outdoor performance spaces.
How should the new Fingal Development Plan support new ways of working? Is there a requirement to provide work hubs within the community?Work hubs would probably be a very welcome amenity in Skerries. High-quality broadband and the availability of childcare would be very important.
How should the new Development Plan ensure that outdoor spaces improve the Health & Wellbeing and sense of Community for the citizens of Fingal?Outdoor spaces are wonderful amenities for social gatherings. Ways must be found to balance that with the interests of local residents.Also, local resident groups should be enabled to set up micro-community gardens on parts of the green spaces in their area. 

Theme 2: Climate Action

How can the Development Planaddress the challenges associatedwith Climate Change in order tofacilitate Fingal’s transition to a lowcarbon society?In all themes, the transition to a low-carbon society must be a central objective. The adaptation to climate change that will be happening must be central as well.
Are there specific climate actionpolicies and objectives that youwould like to see included in thenext Development Plan?Both the support of organic regenerative agriculture and of microgeneration of renewable energy need to be included in the next plan.
When it comes to land use, whatare the key actions we can taketo reduce the impacts of ClimateChange?There should be regenerative agriculture and tree planting to mitigate erosion and flooding.Fingal County Council should do everything possible to make the change to organic regenerative agriculture super easy for farmers.Organic and regenerative agriculture, especially for market gardening, can:contribute to the national policy of increasing the percentage of organic agriculture in Irelandhelp increase the amount of organic produce available from Irish sources – most organic produce purchased in Ireland is actually imported, including many products that can easily be grown herehelp counteract climate change through drawing carbon down from the atmosphereregenerative agriculture (using no or low tillage) can help mitigate the consequences of climate change:less erosion due to better soil retention during heavy rainfall better water retention, thus enabling the plants to deal better with long dry spellsa higher percentage of the water falling during heavy rainfalls can be absorbed by soil farmed regenerativelyhelp biodiversity: Especially pollinators suffer from the use of herbicides and insecticides in conventional agriculture.For those reasons, it should be given a high status in the draft development plan. The rate of adoption of organic regenerative farming in the farming community could be improved by supporting farmers’ markets and farm shops, by committing to use preferably organic local produce, using an approach similar to the Green Public Procurement rules employed by Sweden since 2006, which have been shown to have had tangible success.Leading by example is another objective that could be added, namely the objective that Fingal County Council should identify land from its own land bank in each local electoral area to set up model organic, regenerative farms, which could either be run by employed farm managers or by local farmers on behalf of Fingal County Council.
What development standardsshould be introduced to assistin the promotion and deliveryof Climate Action throughdevelopment management?Active transport, low-energy / zero-energy requirement for all new buildings, ensuring that as few people as possible have to commute.The Tree Strategy needs to be fully implemented.Carbon free, safe active transport should be possible everywhere, not just in new developments.
What policies or objectivesshould be introduced to helpreduce countywide emissions?The Fingal Climate Action Plan needs to be implemented fully.
How should we manage ourcoastal areas as the populationof Fingal continues to grow?No new developments should take place in areas which are likely to be negatively impacted by rising sea levels, coastal erosion and / or regular flooding.

Theme 3: Connectivity and Movement

What are the key connectivity andmovement issues affecting workers,residents and visitors in Skerries?The primary issues are The dominance of cars as the primary means of transport in the town and between the town and neighbouring towns and Dublin.The lack of safe walking and cycling paths e.g. incomplete cycle path on one side of Barnageeragh road no paths on other side; parts of Dublin road with no footpath on one sideLack of space on (pre-pandemic) commuter train services at rush hour.Inadequate bus services to Dublin, Swords and neighbouring towns.Absence of remote working hubs in the town to help reduce commuting to Dublin and elsewhere. FCC should support the establishment of hub offices/shared work spaces in Skerries to reduce the need for commuting to Dublin.
How can we make it easier to get around in Skerries?How do we increase walking, cycling and public transport use and reduce car dependency?How can the safety of cyclists and pedestrians be improved? What measures could be put in place to make this happen?Bus ServicesFCC should assess the feasibility of providing electric shuttle buses to help older people, children, people with disabilities, parents with young children etc get around townthe adequacy of existing Dublin Bus and Local Link services in Skerries now and in the context of Bus Connects. Services between Skerries and Swords are of particular importance given that Swords to Dublin is the nearest relevant Core Bus Corridor to Skerries under Bus Connects and the planned terminus for Metro Link at Swords.the feasibility of local bus connections between Skerries and Balbriggan, Rush and Lusk.Ensure that new areas in Skerries have sufficient access to public transport i.e. bus stops.
Train ServicesFCC should lobby Irish Rail to increase capacity on rush hour services between Dublin and Drogheda/Dundalk that serve Skerries.FCC should lobby for faster expansion of DART services to Balbriggan.

Walking and CyclingFCC should complete the Fingal Coastal Way as quickly as possible taking account of the views of affected communities and residents.
Prioritisation of walking and cycling may require making some roads around the town part of one way systems. While this may cause some inconvenience, well-being, leisure and the environment should take priority.
An analysis of the active travel options for all Fingal towns should be a high priority for the life of the next Development Plan.
Some points from a Skerries perspective:
CyclingCycling in and around Skerries is not particularly safe given the dominance of cars, lack of cycling lanes and some poor road surfaces. This lack of safety discourages people from taking up cycling.FCC should consider the feasibility of the following in Skerries:Increased provision of cycle paths including completing the existing cycleway on the Barnageeragh road and creating one on the other side of the road.road surfaces in the town and on approach roads to Skerries should be inspected and resurfaced and repaired where necessary to facilitate safe cycling. For example the road surface on large parts of Strand St. the main street of Skerries is very poor and dangerous for cycling. Parts of Grange Lodge Avenue near Ardla cemetery are also very dangerous for cyclists, and again where Grange Lodge Avenue becomes Margaretstown near Dentmagic. The surface on longer stretches of Baltrasna, which is the road down from the main entrance of Ardgillan to the R127, is dangerous for cyclists.incentivising bike rental businesses are to set up in Skerries when the Coastal Way becomes a reality.providing more and bigger bike racks should be provided in the town and at sea front. There should be bike locking facilities at or near the Ardgillan car park.
WalkingThe following should be considered in Skerries:Providing a complete footpath on both sides of the Dublin Road, looking at all options including the introduction of a one way system on this road.Provision of a safe crossing of the Dublin Road at the gate of Kelly’s Bay View.Pedestrianisation of some streets in the town centre and provision of public outdoor seating street art, play features, plant life, performance space, and adequate parking for bicycles and cargo bikes. Even if streets cannot be fully pedestrianised they could be made pedestrian priority streets.Traffic lights often seem to prioritise cars.  There is too much emphasis on moving motorised traffic through the town which means there can be long delays for pedestrians trying to cross roads.More pedestrian crossings are needed. The lights at the pedestrian crossing near White Cottages change too quickly.  The crossing at Skerries Point is in the wrong place.  
Should we be making [greater] use of shared community cars and bicycle schemes in Skerries? What other mobility measures could be put in place to reduce car use?FCC should support car sharing in Skerries by providing the required app, web site and advertising for such a scheme(s) if appropriate.If FCC plans to introduce bike sharing schemes in towns of similar size then such a scheme would be welcome in Skerries. It would be particularly relevant in the context of the new coastal way. Also if such a scheme was available at Skerries train station visitors could potentially cycle to Ardgillan (if the roads were repaired).
How can rural transport and accessibility be improved? See above under Bus Services. Assess effectiveness and coverage of Local Link Louth Meath Fingal and work with TFI to improve these. Ensure residents views are sought as part of this process.Local shuttle bus services could be introduced which operate on an orbital basis around the town to provide a transport link for non-drivers or indeed to reduce car use.
What are the top priorities in meeting the mobility needs of all citizens in a fair and inclusive way?People still need to use their cars and changes to paths and roads must respect this. There is a balance that needs to be struck between facilitating active travel and public transport and respecting the needs of car users.Narrowing of roads and the introduction of one way systems can certainly inconvenience local residents and lengthen journey times by car however to switch to a more sustainable way of life and mitigate climate change we must walk and cycle more.The views of people who may need public transport more than others must be taken into account.
In your view, what are the key priorities to enhance Fingal’s strategic connectivity offered by its air, road and rail corridors? FCC should work to ensure that electrification of the train line extension to Balbriggan is prioritised and delivered as soon as possible.FCC must carefully assess the impact of mooted plans to relocate (partially or fully) Dublin Port to Balbriggan. Such a move will not only have a major impact on Balbriggan but also on traffic on M1 and all relevant road links as well as on all of the Fingal coast including Skerries and its islands in terms of visual amenity, pollution risks and disturbance of birds and other wildlife.
How can we reduce harmful emissions from transport? FCC should do all it can to encourage walking, cycling and public transport use and reduce car dependency and use in the ways already indicated above.work with all relevant agencies to incentivise and encourage purchase of electric vehicles and bicycles.work with relevant providers to ensure there is a greater number of electric charge points installed in Skerries as the number of electric cars and demand for charge points is only going to increase.work to transition as much of its own fleet of service vehicles to electric power as soon as possible.subsidise, incentivise or encourage its own staff to “go electric” and switch to walking, cycling and public transport where feasible

Theme 4: Employment, Economy & Dublin Airport

How can the Development Plan promote Skerries as a uniquely attractive place for business?
How can the Development Plan support existing businesses and further economic growth in Skerries?
·              The DP consultation document refers to sustainable growth in Fingal. It does not address the fundamental question that continued economic growth (so called “sustainable growth”) is not actually sustainable, as resources are finite.·              However, FCC is to be commended for its Sustainable Business Initiative. The public should be informed of progress made and participating businesses should become certified, to inform customers, who are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious.·              The term “Circular economy” is also mentioned as a point of emphasis. Businesses in the circular economy such as upcycling and repairing should be supported via reduced rates.·              An important area for circularity is in the food production sector, which is particularly strong in Fingal. We need to see progress in “the exploration of the potential for regenerative agriculture, promotion of effective agricultural supply chains and digitally enabled, optimised supply chains and peri-urban production”, as referred to here: https://www.fingal.ie/business/green-enterprise-innovation-circular-economy  ·              Organic and regenerative agriculture should be specifically promoted.·              Businesses which comply should be supported and their progress promoted.·              Skerries has a highly educated workforce, most of whom commute to work. The availability of a local workforce, plus high quality of life should make Skerries a very attractive place for business. To that end, Business Incubator space is needed in the town.·              However, high speed broadband is essential for successful business and is still lacking in many areas of the town.·              Traffic congestion in the town is also a negative factor, as local transport is mainly car based. We need improved cycling and walking infrastructure.
How can the Development Plan ensure that the potential of our youth is developed and retained within Fingal? / in Skerries?·              Young people need affordable housing. Such schemes should be advanced. Developers must be compelled to provide higher-density accommodation by constructing multiple-storey apartments in housing schemes.·              The development of living above shop units should be urgently addressed and innovative solutions where access is a difficulty should be explored.·              Adequate school places need to be provided.Cultural infrastructure needs to keep pace with the (economic) growth of the town. Skerries has an active cultural community. It is home to many artists and voluntary groups engaged in the arts. It needs a proper theatre and an art gallery to engage its young (and older) population.
Are there key sectors of the economy that you think could/should be located in Skerries?·            Industrial incubator areas for high tech/fin tech, software start-ups and other low impact knowledge-based businesses.·            The planned development of the high quality Fingal Coastal Way will bring investment in new cycling- and walking-related business opportunities.
How can the Development Plan support the new work practices that have changed considerably since Covid-19?·                 Planning guidelines for new developments should require the provision of co-working spaces and creches. In existing settings, these changes of use should be considered favourably.If people were to increasingly work near to where they live, the provision of infrastructure would need to be improved: whereas local walks and swimming places were traditionally only used to capacity on weekends, recent experience has shown increased demand throughout the week, leading to daily congestion and pressure on facilities such as parking, toilets. Again, improved traffic management and safe cycling infrastructure within the town are called for.
How can the Development Plan optimize the potential of the tourism sector in Skerries?·                 Accommodation space in Skerries has reduced during the pandemic. A hotel is badly needed and should be made a priority in zoning. Skerries’ proximity to the airport could then be better utilised.·                 A common promotion of the wonderful heritage sites in and around Skerries would make it more cost-effective and bring in visitors to provide return on the investments in these properties.·                 The promised development of the Martello Tower at Red Island needs to proceed with due reference to the impact of increased visitor numbers into an already heavily utilised area.·                 Increased tourism in Skerries needs to be matched with infrastructure investment. Fingal coastal towns like Howth and Malahide have already become victims of their success. Likewise, car-based visitors are clogging up access to Skerries and the harbour on a daily basis during sunny weather, not just in the Summer. Harbour Road is a key amenity for the town with beautiful views and excellent provision of restaurants and bars and is thus a favourite meeting point. It is however typically jammed with traffic.·                 To that end, the provision of car parking outside the town needs to be explored. A local (electric) shuttle service could bring people into the centre/to the tourist sites.The provision of car parking outside the town could go hand in hand with the provision of shared bike scheme. This would allow visitors access to the town in conjunction with or instead of a shuttle bus·                 Water quality on Skerries beaches is regularly compromised by poor waste-water management, particularly after heavy rain.·                 More frequent testing of water quality and better communication of problems are a priority.Rainwater run-off could be reduced by replacing hard surfaces in car parks with water permeable paving. This should also be compulsory for the drives of new housing and grants be given for conversions. The installation of rainwater harvesting should also be compulsory in new developments and installation in existing buildings (private and commercial) should be incentivised.  

Theme 5: Cultural Heritage

How can we best protect against the detrimental effects of Climate Change on the heritage resource in Skerries?We see the key threat as any potential rise in sea level. This threat is far more severe to residential and business structures in Skerries than to heritage buildings as such. The two Martello towers are clearly close to the sea but may be sufficiently high up that they are protected. It would be good for this to be formally assessed and this should be happening as part of FCC’s Fingal Cultural Heritage & Climate Change Risk Assessment.The Skerries Mills buildings may be vulnerable to future flooding arising from the nearby Brook stream.
How can we balance the need for new development with the protection and enhancement of our heritage resource?Existing archaeological, historic and architectural structures and buildings of note need to be protected under existing legislation, regulations and policies. New developments, re-developments and refurbishments need to be done in a sensitive fashion that respects and retains cultural heritage sites.The centre of Skerries is an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA). What should this mean in practise? Perhaps an explanation of what this designation means could be published by FCC in Skerries News.There has been a lot of redevelopment and refurbishment works taking place and most of this work seems to be respecting the architectural nature of the town. A lot of property continues to be put on the market and further refurbishment works are extremely likely. There has been some demolition of buildings in the town also. How is the ACA overseen and enforced? FCC should ensure that all demolitions and other works respect the Architectural Conservation Area.
What policies and/or incentives do you think can encourage heritage-led regeneration with the retention and reuse of traditional and historic buildings?Planning permission being granted should always be contingent on maximum preservation of built and natural heritage.Education and raising public awareness is key. This should include information about laws and regulations but also the value of our built heritage for this and future generations.Providing a short brochure to estate agents who in turn could provide this to the purchasers of houses and other buildings would be a good step.Financial incentives are always likely to help whether in the form of grants to help with heritage conscious refurbishment or repairs or tax breaks.Surviving thatched buildings should be preserved and financial incentives / supports provided to owners for maintenance.
Can we better protect and promote our archaeological resource for the benefit of local communities and to attract tourism?Promotion and protection can be contradictory efforts and protection must take priority.Providing maps and information on cultural heritage sites in Fingal would be very helpful.Perhaps this could be done in tiers e.g. tier 1 sites that are easily accessible, have a strong physical/visual presence, are adequately serviced with toilets, bins etc tier 2 that may be a bit off the beaten track, are harder to access, lack services. Tier 1 could be promoted to the public while tier 2 (and even 3) might be just documented on a website for enthusiasts only.
The Fingal Coastal Way can be linked to heritage sites on the route such as the Martello towers, Drumanagh promontory fort and Ardgillan as well as those further inland like Skerries Mills. The community at Loughshinny/Rush have an important heritage site owned by FCC in Drumanagh promontory fort and its Martello tower (very badly littered with cans and bottles sadly) where Roman artefacts have been discovered and where future excavations may reveal exciting discoveries. Stories serve to capture imaginations, especially for young people and Romans at Loughshinny is potentially a great story. Fingal needs to look at other potential stories including St. Patrick at Skerries and Vikings at Lambay for example, and use these stories to foster engagement with our history and heritage.
A child friendly web site and/or app that tells stories like these and links those stories to heritage sites, place names and locations would be very valuable. Skerries children would enjoy learning history through the buildings and stories around us including St. Patrick,  the Vikings at Lambay, Baldongan Castle, the Martello towers, Ardgillan and Milverton demesnes, the Rockabill lighthouse, the Mills, Skerries library and possibly Romans at Loughshinny.The same site/app could equally cover natural heritage.
For Skerries the upcoming renovation of the landmark Martello tower at Red Island is a key project for the town. Martello towers are familiar sights on the Irish coast but few, if any, are open to the public as a restored version of their original purpose. The one at Red Island therefore can serve a valuable function not just for Fingal but for the country as a whole. This project needs to be sensitively done so that it provides accurate historical information without “dumbing down”. Access to the roof for visitors should be a requirement. Many questions arise:Will it be made available if possible for community events, talks and temporary exhibitions. Will there be an admission fee? Can Skerries residents be given free, reduced or recurring admission? What are the parking implications of having an additional visitor attraction in that location? How will additional parking demand be met?How will pedestrian access be managed? Will additional bins be provided to help with the inevitable increased associated litter?
We note the comment in Wikipedia that the tower at Balbriggan is “In extremely poor condition and the most at risk of any of the towers in the Dublin area” so we hope FCC does something to save the tower in our sister town.
How can technology help with highlighting the heritage resource to the tourist audience? How can we widen heritage engagement – physical, practical and virtual – with disparate audiences and new communities? The most obvious way is via informative and easily navigable websites which provide different levels of information depending on the level of interest of the user. Maps and trails are both useful and popular and many towns including Skerries already have heritage trails.Much of the content probably already exists and just needs to be promoted so that people are aware of it.Too often such sites are targeted at tourists rather than locals and FCC should strive to ensure residents of Fingal engage with the heritage in Fingal, Dublin, Meath and Louth. See also the suggestion made above about a child-friendly web site being made available.
Another way to highlight our heritage is to develop an app that contains the same info as the main heritage website for Fingal. It would be great if heritage trails were accessible using such an app and as you walk around the town you could read about sites of interest. 
Finally the use of social media has exploded and there are many such media now. Investing in these can help highlight our heritage to locals and visitors alike.
Are there ways of ensuring Fingal’s intangible heritage of traditions, folklore, language and song will be shared with future generations? Work with historical heritage and other societies to get ideas for suitable projects similar to the Fingal Fields Names project. Local folklore and stories and songs might be. Local libraries can serve as centres for such projects. Information could where possible be input to a web-based database which would also be available for people to browse.Establish an arts centre in the north Fingal coastal area serving Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush and Lusk and beyond. Such an arts centre could play a role in preserving and celebrating intangible heritage.Support and promote Irish Traditional Music Festivals/weekends and other festivals celebrating intangible heritage.
Are there any individual buildings or groups of buildings, Industrial Heritage Sites and features that should be added to the Record of Protected Structures or designated as Architectural Conservation Areas? Why?Both the Record of Protected Structures and the Monuments Record have many entries for Skerries and its townlands.We noticed that it appears that each of the Martello towers occurs in one of these but not the other i.e. the Martello on Shenick Island is not on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS)  though it is on the Recorded Monuments list (DU005-033) while the Martello on Red Island is in the RPS (0189) but not the Recorded Monuments list.The front parts of the attractive vernacular cottages at Sherlock Terrace conceivably merit designation as an Architectural Conservation Area as they are not included in the existing ACA in the centre of the town.  The style of house is unique on this side of Skerries. Many of these have been extended to the rear but the fronts are mostly still reflective of their original state and designs.

Moving away from cultural heritage to culture more generally we note that despite the rich history of drama in Skerries and the valiant efforts of the Little Theatre and Skerries Drama that neither Skerries or Balbriggan has a dedicated performance space like the Millbank in Rush.

We further note the lack of a collaborative creative space for people to create or study art in Skerries. We welcome the planned expansion of the library in Skerries and hope there will be some scope for meetings and workgroups in it but a dedicated arts space in Skerries / Balbriggan is needed preferably incorporating performance, gallery and creative /collaborative spaces and associated facilities.

Theme 6: Green Infrastructure & Natural Heritage

How should the Development Plan protect and enhance the Biodiversity of Fingal?

Given that the population of Fingal continues to expand it is inevitable that more land will have to be turned over to housing, infrastructure, business, utilities etc.  We note and agree with the stated intention to utilise “Brownfield” sites wherever possible but the amount of land thus available will be nowhere near sufficient.  Some “Greenfield” sites will have to be developed.

This being so, every consideration should be given in the selection process to the biodiversity value of these sites.  It should be noted that “waste” or “unimproved” ground is often, by its very nature, of high biodiversity value.  Before planning permission is granted the first step should be an ecological and biodiversity assessment of the site.  It is imperative that any such survey should be independent and not commissioned by the developer or others with a vested or financial interest in the site.  The results should be made public in good time for discussion or objection.

Fingal County Council needs to lead by example in its own practices regarding biodiversity. The connection between the use of herbicides and insecticides and a loss of biodiversity has been clearly proven. The use of herbicides by Fingal CoCo in its management of public spaces/road verges/around trees and lampposts  should be discontinued immediately.

Fingal County Council should support the existing Biodiversity Action Plan for Skerries focused on the Large Carder Bee.

The council should prioritise protection and enhancement of existing biodiversity rich areas in the town such as the Ballast Pit, south strand and the area shown in the map here encompassing the Mill pond, the Brook stream and woods, the marsh area and the Kybe pond. Discussions are underway between our sister committee, Skerries Tidy Towns and ecologist Donna Mullen on what can be done for this area.

What would you like to see in the Development Plan in relation to trees, woodland and hedgerows?

The Forest of Fingal Plan aims to significantly increase the tree cover in Fingal, and this is to be applauded.  However, most of the planting proposed on FCC land involves free standing trees standing on mown grass with no understory.  This severely limits the biodiversity value of such.  We understand the reluctance to allow shrubs and ground cover because of the perceived encouragement of antisocial behaviour but where this is not likely to be an issue understory should be included.

Hedgerows are undervalued and should be planted wherever possible.  This includes sites which have pre-existing fences and metal railings with green space beside them.  Obviously Native species should be chosen.

Use of herbicides and insecticides should cease unless absolutely necessary, i.e. control of Japanese Knotweed; not keeping verges “tidy”.

How should we manage our Coastal Areas as the population of Fingal continues to grow?

It is an unfortunate fact that increased population puts extra strain, and damage to, natural areas.  On the other hand it would be both unfair and difficult to keep the public out of such areas.  Coastal dunes such as at Portmarnock and Skerries South Strand are excellent examples of environments that are susceptible to footfall and erosion.  Provision of boardwalks where appropriate is recommended as is education and increased signage in order that otherwise well-intentioned visitors might not inadvertently cause damage and disturbance to wildlife.

How can the Development Plan improve health and wellbeing in outdoor areas?

Natural settings in outdoor areas have proven benefits to both physical and mental health.  Ensuring that these areas are both preserved and accessible is key.

Theme 7: Infrastructure & Utilities

What physical infrastructure is needed to support people living, working, and visiting Skerries?Promoting more sustainable transport options like e-cycles/e-scooters and ensuring reasonable road layout between Skerries and surrounding towns (leverage the opportunities of the Greenway project planned in the area), better theft protection at the Skerries railway station for bicycles, infrastructure for electric car charging for locals and tourists, car sharing spaces and maybe an electric/hydrogen powered shuttle bus around the area to serve all types of residents and visitors?
A business incubation hub for local start-ups working in tandem with a shared workspace for home workers/entrepreneurs would suit the population and connections of Skerries very well.
Support the development of farm/produce cooperatives which will help modernise agricultural and food production practices and help pave the way for a more dynamic and resilient circular economy which focuses on sustainable practices.
How can the Development Plan best support and promote new energy generation technologies?Seek to generate a scheme for local ownership (shared between local residents, businesses and county council) of electricity-generating infrastructure such as solar farms, land and sea windmills and photovoltaic panels across large buildings   to offset emissions from cars, buses and tractors used locally. 
Trial district heating systems that can provide houses with heating and hot water from centralised biomass boilers fuelled with locally grown biomass such as straw, the principal idea is to turn a farmer’s waste product into a commodity for the farmer. This supports the notion of the circular economy as well.
Infrastructure for cycling and electrical vehicles should have PV panels on them to generate power (for example a car sharing/community car garage area).
How can Fingal’s Development Plan support more innovative forms of waste treatment, waste reduction, recycling and energy re-use?Specifically for the building trade, ensuring access to a center of excellence of passive house/low energy building technology would help speed up the implementation of building methods that reduce the need for heating energy use. Provide funding for the upskilling of local trades and enterprises to choose sustainable materials and methods when constructing new infrastructure.
Create an Upcycling Centre, where recyclable or serviceable materials and items can be re-used by the local community (for a small donation/fee). Could be run by the local community and involve stakeholder groups from schools, associations, etc.
How can the Development Plan improve digital connectivity in your area?All of Skerries must be supported by high-quality gigabit broadband internet connectivity in order to be competitive and to (put pressure on providers such as SIRO to prioritise Skerries/Fingal).
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