DRAFT plans for the development of three new villages and a town centre have been approved by councillors at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
The Draft Planning Scheme for the Cherrywood Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) as adopted by councillors involves the mixed-use residential, retail and commercial development of a 264-hectare area between Cherrywood and Carrickmines.
The ambitious scheme consists of proposals for three new villages, served by a town centre in Cherrywood, with capacity for five schools.
The plan may be appealed to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks of the decision which councillors made at a special meeting of the council on Tuesday, June 26.
The projected population for the Cherrywood town centre is 35,000 but with few people living in the area at the moment it is unlikely that much of what is set out in the plan will be developed for years to come.
The council is one of the biggest property owners within the SDZ and owns a substantial tract of land that it previously intended to develop as a science and technology park.
At the meeting Cllr Jim O’Dea (FG) and Cllr Patricia Stewart (FG) proposed a motion asking the council to undertake a study to assess whether an appropriate site within the SDZ area to locate a “retail warehouse” development could be identified.
In May the Department of the Environment announced new guidelines limiting the size of "retail warehouses".
In practice this would mean that any such outlets built within the Cherrywood SDZ would be limited.
Earlier this year the furniture giant Ikea made its own submission outlining why it believes the Cherrywood lands would be ideal for the development of one of their stores.
“It is Ikea’s belief that this location meets their needs in terms of public transport requirements and a suitable road network, whilst locating here is also an opportunity for a significant international retailer to act as a catalyst for developing this new area,” it stated.
The Swedish company also wrote to councillors recently to say it believed a new store in the area would create 500 permanent jobs and 1,000 temporary jobs during the construction phase.
At the meeting Cllr O’Dea said: “I am of the opinion, and I suppose most people are well aware of the fact, that we are no longer living in the era of the Celtic Tiger. We may need a major retailing company to come in and launch Cherrywood in the future.”
Cllr Stewart said the council should carry out the feasibility study to determine whether an appropriate site for major retail warehouse zoning could be identified in the Cherrywood SDZ if there was a real prospect of generating jobs.
Cllr Denis O’Callaghan said (Lab) a study should be carried out to explore the possibility of identifying a suitable site for retail warehouses throughout the entire county.
He said such a study should be conducted on a countywide basis and should not be limited to the Cherrywood SDZ lands, as the council should also consider other sites such as the Carrickmines district centre.
Councillors agreed on an amendment to the plan which would involve carrying out such a study in the county “including the Cherrywood SDZ”.