Elections in June 2004 changed the representation on Bray Town Council. The members of the previous Council (1999 elections) started their stewardship with the publication of an , commissioned from Brady Shipman Martin, Town Planners, in 1998 by Bray Urban District Council.
Despite a change in zoning on the golf club lands from Open Space to Mixed Use, this report very sensibly proposed building on the high ground, while preserving the flood plain alongside the river as parkland and playing pitch.
Yet, by the time the 2005-2011 Bray Draft Development Plan went on display in May 2004, this proposed allocation had been swapped around so that high density building was encouraged on the flood plain and green open space was relegated to the high ground.
Submissions were invited until 27th July, 2004. A letter - with guidelines specifically recommending keeping flood plains free of development - was received from the OPW in June.
In December, 2004, four new members of Bray Town Council - three from the Green Party and one from Sinn Fein - voted to return the flood plain to Open Space zoning because of the danger of exacerbated flooding. They were voted down by Labour, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
Proposed amendments to the Draft Plan were advertised and put on public display during January-February, 2005, for a period of 4 weeks. Over 350 local people signed a petition in less than a week, asking that the proposed Town Centre zoning be returned to Open Space as they believed - from life experience - this was a vital part of the flood plain. This submission was ruled out of order.
The councillors who put together the 2005-2011 Draft Development Plan were:-
Shortly before the publication of the draft version of the 1998-2004 Bray Development Plan, local reporter, Jan vanEmbden, wrote:-
'Funds could be raised to bring Bray Head into public ownership through the rezoning and sale of council-owned land in other parts of the town, Bray UDC Chairman, Michael Lawlor, said this week.
''Known locally as Rehill's Land, and lying to the west of the town, bordering the Upper Dargle Road, it was proposed to rezone the land to allow a hotel, office accommodation and open space development. The rezoning proposal is one of a number of key changes in the draft version of the new Bray Development Plan, which is due to go on public display shortly following its approval by local councillors this week.
'Urging public support for the new plan, Cllr. Lawlor said the draft version contained several 'pieces of the jigsaw' which could be brought together to ensure the long-term preservation of Bray Head as the town's most important natural amenity.
'"This would be a perfect opportunity to develop what is currently unused land at Dargle Road for the benefit of local tourism, while at the same time raising funds to bring agricultural zoned lands on Bray Head into council ownership, which is the only realistic way to protect it from development in the long term. Funds raised could also be used to redevelop the People's Park and to complete longstanding proposals for the Dargle River walk", he said.
'"Another important piece of the jigsaw is the proposal to rezone Bray Golf Club's existing lands for educational, sporting, commercial and residential development, in order to facilitate their proposed move to a new home on the western slopes of Bray head", he added.
'Cllr. Lawlor said that while he fully respected the right of every group and individual to object to the draft plan, he urged the community to study it very closely and to give it their support.
'In addition to preserving Bray Head and aiding the growth of local tourism, another key priority had to be to 'strengthen and protect' the commercial life of the town centre in the face of serious retail competition from out-of-town shopping centres.
'"Bray town centre has been losing out to out-of-town retail centres such as Cornelscourt and this trend must be reversed, otherwise we will end up with very little commercial or retail life in the heart of our town. We must avoid the 'no main street' syndrome, which has blighted cities and towns in other countries", he warned.
'Parking at the extremities of the town centre area was still within the walking distance of 800 metres which international studies had found were most acceptable to people, and with this in mind, there was tremendous potential for retail and commercial development in the heart of Bray. There were also proposals to tackle the vexed issue of parking and traffic through the establishment of a 'civic forum' comprising representatives of residents' associations, business interests, CIE, the Gardai, the UDC and other groups, as well as more parking spaces and measures to limit the type and size of trucks permitted to enter the town centre area.
'Efforts to develop a new theatre and exhibition centre in Bray were also vital given the growing importance of this sector in the economy. In Britain, more people were now employed in the arts and entertainment than in the coal, steel, ship-building and car-manufacturing industries put together.
'Recent times had seen approval for two new hotels in Bray. The new plan would encourage and facilitate further tourism and hotel related development in the town.
'A comprehensive plan had been drawn up to redevelop the 47 acres of land at Bray Golf Club, now the only major area of development within the urban boundary. Mixed residential, commercial, educational and leisure-related development was proposed for these lands, including provision of a 6.47 acre site for Colaiste Raithin, two GAA pitches, car parks and housing in the form of townhouses, maisonettes and apartments.
'All this was predicted on the relocation of Bray Golf Club and he urged all parties involved in negotiations to come to agreement, which Cllr. Lawlor believed would benefit everyone in the community.'
In April, 2003, the 'Bray People' reported that:-
'The business centre of Bray is set for a radical redevelopment, after plans for a multi-million pound retail and residential development were given the green light.
'The 40 million euro , which will be built on a block of land between Florence Road and Quinsboro Road, and fronting onto Bray's lower Main Street, is seen as the catalyst to reverse Bray's flagging commercial fortunes.
'An Bord Pleanala announced last Friday that it was granting permission to Ballymore Properties to build a large supermarket, six smaller retail units, 57 apartments, and a late night 350 space multi-storey car park.
'Plans for the scheme were first unveiled over eight years ago, but planning permission granted by Bray Town Council was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala.
'It has been languishing with the planning appeals board since then.
'"This is what Bray has been waiting for", said Chamber of Commerce spokesman John Doyle.'
Development at old Bray Golf Links
On October 1, 2003, the Irish Times reported:-
'The sale of a 62-acre site in Bray is the largest property deal this year.
'In the single biggest property transaction this year, a consortium led by Dublin developer Paddy Kelly has paid almost 90 million euro for 62 acres formerly occupied by Bray Golf Club and Industrial Yarns. It is widely regarded as the most spectacular town centre development site on the east coast.
'The land was sold by Eddie Dwyer of housebuilders Dwyer Nolan Developments who spent five years assembling the site, arranging rezoning and providing an alternative 18-hole golf course for the club.
'Apart from Mr Kelly, the other members of the Pizarro Developments consortium planning to develop the land are Durkan New Homes, Alanis Ltd (controlled by the McCormack family), Bray property developers Newlan McSharry and the construction company Pierse. It will be seen as a strong consortium capable of delivering a high quality scheme.
'The strategic location of the land immediately beside the town of Bray will enable the new owners to embark on one of the most comprehensive mixed developments yet seen in an Irish town. It will include more than 1,500 new homes, up to 46,450 sq m (500,000 sq ft) of shopping facilities, and around the same volume of other commercial space, including a leisure complex, a hotel, multiplex cinema and car-parking facilities. There will also be a range of social and leisure facilities and provision for a school and GAA sports grounds.
'Nick Sutton, who along with Gerry Ryan of architects HKR will be designing the massive scheme, said that rather than developing a new town they would effectively be reinforcing the retail core of Bray.
'The development programme is likely to take up to 10 years to complete. It will be designed to enhance the appeal of Bray by including a public square with attractive cafes, restaurants, bars and specialist shops.
'The area along the Dargle river will be developed as a public park with generous landscaping and leisure facilities.
It is also planned to build a bridge over the Dargle to provide more direct access to the DART station in Bray.
'The development opportunities presented by the availability of the old nine-hole golf course immediately beside Bray has long been recognised by the local Urban District Council.
'As far back as 1998, the zoning of the site was changed and the council brought in town planners Brady Shipman Martin to draw up a local area plan setting out the type of development that would be of most benefit to the town. That will now form the framework of the overall scheme.
'James Synnott & Associates acted for O'Dwyer Nolan in selling the land. Joint agents for future developments on the site are Hamilton Osborne King and Palmer McCormack.'
On May 26, 2004, Jack Fagan, Property Editor of the Irish Times, wrote:-
'The retail element of a major new development in Bray is due to be completed by autumn 2005.
'A consortium led by Ballymore has begun developing a 60 million euro shopping centre and residential complex in the centre of Bray, Co Wicklow.
'The at 4/5/6 Main Street will fill an important gap in the local retail market where fashion traders find it impossible to get good sized shops of between 139.35 and 232.25 sq m (1,500 to 2,500 sq ft).
'The centre will have 9,000 sq m (96,875 sq ft) of retail space in all on the ground floor including an anchor store, two large outlets and a range of smaller unit shops.
'Food retailers likely to be pitching for the anchor unit are thought to include Marks & Spencer, Supervalu, Tesco Metro and Dunnes new convenience store. Joint agents, Dooley Auctioneers and Harrington Bannon, are reporting strong interest in many of the shops which are likely to be rented at 807 euro per sq m (75 euro per sq ft).
'The location of the new complex between Main Street, Quinnsboro Road and Florence Road guarantees its success. Most of the site has been used as a surface car-park and the balance was acquired from over 20 different owners.
'The design for the Florentine Centre by Mick Duff of James Twoomey Architects is based on the successful formula of the Funf Hofe Centre in Munich. The four-storey over basement development will include two levels of car-parking (450 spaces over the retail floor) and 57 duplex apartments on the top. Both the retail element and the car-parking are due to be completed by autumn 2005.
'Bray has been one of the fastest growing towns along the east coast and has a population of 26,000 and a catchment area with about 80,000 people.
'Dunnes Stores already has a supermarket and a separate fashion store; Tesco operate out of the Vevay area on the outskirts of the town while Superquinn is based in the Castle Street shopping centre.
'Ballymore is also involved in the development of a much larger shopping centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare, with partners Mountbrook Homes.
'That venture is likely to divert many shoppers away from the well-established shopping centres in the Dublin suburbs as well as the city centre because of the expected lineup of top ranking stores.'
Development at old Bray Golf Links
On June 6, 2005, James Fitzgerald reported in the Irish Times that:-
'Plans for a retail and residential development for Bray, Co Wicklow, similar in overall size to the new Dundrum town centre, are to be lodged with the local council this week.
'The development, to be located on the 62-acre site of what used to be Bray Golf Club, will include more than 50,000sq m of retail space and 1,250 apartments.
'It is thought that a number of large national and international supermarket chains have already expressed an interest in becoming anchor stores for the new development.
'Later this week, the application will be lodged with Bray Town Council. With Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council thought to be earning more than €20 million per year in rates from the Dundrum development, this will be seen as an enormous revenue-generating opportunity for the town council.
'The site of the proposed development is alongside the River Dargle on the Dublin side of the town, with potential for retail development. It would also be regarded as a desirable residential location, especially for commuters to the city via the nearby Dart rail link.
***'In an effort to make the site a more attractive location for residents, retailers and shoppers, the proposal will contain plans for a public park and several landscaped areas along the Dargle as well as a new bridge over the river to link the complex more easily with Bray railway station.
'In a deal some years ago with businessman Eddie Dwyer, of housebuilders Dwyer Nolan Developments, Bray Golf Club exchanged the site of their nine-hole course in return for enough land for 18 holes near Bray Head between the town and Greystones to the south.
'It is thought that Mr Dwyer also agreed to build the course and pay for a clubhouse on the site.
'In total, he spent about five years assembling the site, organising rezoning, and in September 2003, he sold it for 90 million euro to the Pizarro consortium led by Dublin developer Paddy Kelly, one of those involved in the Smithfield market development.
'Pizarro also includes such well-known businesses as Durkan New Homes, Alanis Ltd (controlled by the McCormack family), Bray property developers Newlan McSharry and construction company Pierse.
'The project, if given the go-ahead by Bray Town Council, will be carried out over two phases, with a projected finish date of 2013.'
***The seriously erroneous statement that: " ....the proposal will contain plans for a public park and several landscaped areas along the Dargle ...." was first published in this Irish Times June, 2005, article, at around the time Pizarro's plans were submitted to Bray Town Council. These plans propose to put the park and playing field on the high ground, not alongside the river: this is the entire basis of our community's objection. Yet this statement has been repeated by the Times in further references to the Pizarro project. Despite requests, we have never seen a correction.
2nd Fairway after rain