Bray Golf Club Lands
Action Area Plan
In 1998, Brady Shipman Martin, Town Planners, were commissioned by Bray Urban District Council to prepare an Action Area Plan for the Bray Golf Club Lands. This was published in 1999, and proposed building on the high ground on these lands, while preserving the flood plain as green space. It appears as if much of the answer was there - as follows - before we even began to ask the questions...
1.1. In early 1998, Bray Urban District Council commissioned Brady Shipman Martin to prepare an Action Area Plan for lands currently used by Bray Golf Club.
1.2. This land had been identified as a potential development site in the Bray Land Use Study 1996 (see figure 1). Recent pressure for development has included proposals for the golf club lands and in the interests of achieving the most beneficial use of what is in effect the only remaining potential development site of any magnitude within the Urban District Boundary, it was considered necessary to develop an action plan for its release.
1.3. In the meantime, an Integrated Area Plan (IAP) was prepared for Bray to seek designation under the new Urban Renewal Scheme in 1998. Bray has not been awarded designated status. The IAP proposed to link, both physically and conceptually, the amenity area of the seafront to the socio-economically deprived area of Fassaroe to the west of the golf club lands.
1.4. In this context, the golf club lands are strategically located between the two areas and offer an opportunity to secure sites for certain key developments, such as a carpark which can serve the main commercial area of the town centre. It also offers the opportunity to create alternative physical links through or adjacent to these lands, which bypass the congested town centre.
1.5. A greater degree of urgency was given to the Action Area Plan by the fact that the golf club straddles the two jurisdictions of Bray Urban District Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. Some 3.6 hectares (9 acres or 19%) of the overall site of 19 hectares (47 acres) fall within the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown area.
2. Context - the site
2.1. The site is an area of 19 hectares (47 acres) which lies on the northern bank of the Dargle River, between Main Street, which runs north south through the town centre, and the sea. Part of this land (c3.5 ha or 8.6 acres) is low lying and is regarded as flood plain.
2.2. The site is bounded to the east by the rail-line, which serves to carry both mainline trains and the high speed electrified DART service. It is a major physical barrier to accessing the amenity area of the coastal strip, zoned for protection in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Draft Development Plan 1997, 1998 Amendments.
2.3. To the northwest, the site abuts the rear gardens of a residential estate, whilst to the north east, it fronts onto a heavily wooded valley, zoned for preservation as amenity space and containing a sewage treatment works which is due to be decommissioned in the near future.
2.4. To the west, the site is bounded by a large institutional site currently in part occupied by St. John of Gods, by the back gardens of a terrace of mature council properties, and by the sides of a short row of residential properties fronting onto the River Dargle.
2.5. The site lies a mere 120m from the northern end of Main Street and only 60m from Castle Street and the in-town shopping centre of Superquinn, which is currently undergoing remodelling. As such it occupies a key town centre site.
2.6. At the same time, it represents the largest single parcel of land with development potential, remaining within the town boundary.
The Planning Context
2.7. The land is divided between the two jurisdictions of Bray Urban District Council (81%) and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (19%). Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan was adopted on 13 July 1998. The Bray Urban District Development Plan was adopted on 1 June 1999.
2.8. Bray Urban District Development Plan 1993 zoned the land Z33, for the preservation of private open space.
2.9. The recently adopted 1999 Development Plan zones the land as F1 Mixed Use Development to provide for mixed use development in accordance with the Bray Golf Club Lands Action Plan.
2.10. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan 1998 zones that portion of the site falling under their jurisdiction as F to preserve and provide for open space and recreational amenities.
2.11. As part of the Action Area Plan preparation process, a meeting was held with elected members of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, at which a draft Action Area Plan was presented. Members noted the principles of the Action Plan. However, in the event, the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan was approved prior to the placing of the Bray Urban District Draft Development Plan and the Bray Golf Club Lands Draft Action Area Plan on deposit and under these circumstances, the zoning has been retained unchanged. Future development proposed for that portion of the golf club lands falling within the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County jurisdiction will therefore require a material contravention or a variation of the 1998 Plan.
2.12. All mains services are available to the site. There is likely to be a requirement to accommodate the storm tanks for Bray sewerage treatment works, but these are on-line and sealed and could be accommodated within any riverside open space proposed.>
2.13. There is currently an application with the DOE for cohesion funds for the construction of a new treatment works to serve the combined effluent of Bray and Shankhill. This will require to be sited to the north of Bray and one of the sites currently under consideration for this purpose is the area to the north of the harbour.
2.14. The site is located approximately 300 metres from Bray station. The DART currently terminates in Bray and offers excellent links with the city centre. A number of bus services link Bray both to the city and to the hinterland of Wicklow. One of the potential links into the site lies less than 300m from the N11. However, currently, this stretch of roadway from the N11 into Bray town centre is the most congested in the town.
2.15. The development of the site is dependent upon the provision of a major new access from the Dublin Road or Castle Street. A number of options exist in this respect as indicated on fig 2 and will need to be investigated fully as part of any development proposal submitted to the Council for planning approval. Ideally, access should be taken from a number of points, to disperse the impact of a single point of egress on the adjacent road system. Options for access include:
Industrial Yarns to the north
2.16. This is the most straightforward option in engineering terms. However, it would require the demolition of one of the more recently constructed buildings on the site. Moreover, it would leave relatively little space for development to the north. It will be important to position the road to permit frontage development to the north of the access road, whilst taking care to protect the amenity of the residential properties on Corke Abbey, as set out in 3.2.2. 'Transitional Zoned Areas' of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan 1998. In addition, provision to open up pedestrian links from the proposed new road through to Corke Abbey should be made in suitable locations.
2.17. Finally, the potential junction for this option would be located at the stretch of road which is currently most congested. It will be important therefore to secure adequate land adjacent to this junction and along the frontage of Industrial Yarns to provide a turning lane in both directions. The provision of a turning lane at the junction of Old Connaught Avenue with the Dublin Road would also ease the current situation.
Former convent site
2.18. This option has been investigated previously as part of a former study. Because of the steep gradients in this vicinity, it presents a difficult option, and was therefore rejected on that occasion.
2.19. The complexity and difficulty of designing a junction at this location is compounded by the continued existence of a school on the site of the convent, with its principal access at this point. This generates a substantial amount of additional traffic at the peak morning rush hour, much of which requires to make a right hand turn across oncoming traffic, thus adding to the congestion already present.
2.20. Nonetheless, with appropriate restriction on right turning traffic exiting the site as well as on north bound traffic accessing the site, it could provide a useful secondary access which would help to disperse traffic across several junctions and to shorten local journeys. It would also help to access vacant land which is currently accessible only through Dwyer Park.
2.21. Ravenswell Road is an existing public road which runs from the bridge across the Dargle at the north of Main Street, along the river, to the railway and which provides access to the existing golf course. It is likely that some additional traffic could be accommodated, but the capacity of the junction of Ravenswell Road with Castle Street is likely to be limited and it should therfore be regarded as a supplementary access point only.
2.22. In addition to the access options identified above, there are a number of potential pedestrian access points, all of which should be developed to achieve maximum permeability for the pedestrian and to link the proposed development back into the existing fabric of the town, to the greatest extent possible.
3. Site Analysis
3.1. A SWOT analysis was carried out to identify the strengths, and the following represents the principal findings.
3.2. The site offers a unique opportunity to accommodate a range of uses, including the following:
3.3 Colaiste Raithin, a local secondary gael scoil currently occupies premises on Florence Road. These premises are inadequate and the school has been actively seeking a site within the urban area for some time. The school has currently 279 pupils on its roll. New and enhanced accommodation will enable it to double in size to 550.
3.4. A site of 2.58 ha (6.4 acres) has been identified, abutting the proposed private open space currently under consideration as a second or practice pitch for the GAA, which can be made available for use by the school children during school hours. The Department of Education and Science have no objection to the principal of sharing active sports facilities, provided they are sufficiently close by, and there is no need for the children to cross adjacent roads, en route to the open space. The minimum size of site to be controlled by the school under such circumstances is suggested to be 4-6 acres.
3.5. In this instance, the proposed school site incorporates part of the flood plain to the east and south and the buildings would form part of an urban block, fronting onto and easily accessible from the public street network. Examples of schools which have fitted into urban blocks, at a scale and in a manner compatible with the neighbouring residential properties, are to be seen at Scoil Lorcan in Monkstown and on Charlemont Road in Ranelagh.
The golf club site is perceived as a major piece of open space in the town. Its overall redevelopment will be contentious and care should be taken to ensure that a significant portion of the site is retained as open space, in a well articulated form.
3.7. The local GAA is currently seeking planning permission to develop their existing grounds at the southern end of Main Street, which is insufficient for their needs. They are therefore seeking a replacement site, which has the capacity to accommodate both a match pitch and seating, as well as a practice pitch. The latter could be accommodated within the floodplain, provided some public and school access can be agreed and would form part of the facilities to be used by Colaiste Raithin during school hours.
3.8. The site will be served by the proposed new Sewerage Treatment Works. A site for this has yet to be identified and one of the options under consideration is the area of land immediately north of the harbour. This land, which forms a gateway to Bray, is therefore excluded from this Action Plan, until such time as the design is finalised and the choice of site confirmed.
3.9. If the joint treatment of wastewater from Bray can be provided within the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area, then alternative uses for this site will be considered during the development plan period.
Design Rationale/Development Proposal
4.1. The design rationale, or development concept, can be divided into three distinct but related areas.
Environmental Interventions (see figure 3)
4.2. The site is bounded on part of three sides by amenity features, such as the river to the south, the coastal strip to the east and a heavily wooded valley to the north.
E1: It will be an objective to extend the open space, both private and public, into the site:
4.3. The railway acts as a physical barrier impeding access to the coastal strip.
E2: It will be an objective to create pedestrian links to the coastal open space, via the existing underpass.
4.4. The site is currently well wooded with stands of mature and newly planted trees between the fairways and around the perimeter of the site. Any development will be required to take account of these trees and to incorporate them into the layout, or in certain instances, to provide for their replacement or removal to another position.4.5. In particular, there are a number of species trees, such as the evergreen oaks (quercus ilex) located close to the north west boundary of the site. These are particularly fine mature specimens and their maintenance should be an important principle of development and of planning any new site access.
E3: It will be an objective to retain the mature stands and belts of trees on site, as well as specimen trees. The removal of trees will require consent and replacement of at least an equal number of a similar age and species, unless specifically exempted. No exemption will be considered in the case of the specimen evergreen oaks.
4.6. The harbour occupies a 'gateway' to Bray, and as such should be redeveloped to a standard which reflects this key location. Currently, the harbour is presented as a backlands area, with no positive frontage overlooking it. In the short to medium term there is an opportunity to secure infill frontage development along the southern side of the harbour, although this may require minor shifts in access to existing premises, chiefly the Flogas franchise.
4.7. The development of the lands to the west of the harbour, currently used as hard standing and boat storage, could be redeveloped in mixed uses, with boat related retail and commercial uses on the ground floor and residential above. Its development will be dependent on the rationalisation of the harbour and the replacement of the hard standing and boat storage to the seaward side of the access road.
4.8. Any scheme for its development should include for the extension of the promenade past the yacht club and the maintenance of reasonable public access.
4.9. The harbour suffers from heavy siltation, as well as northerly seas, which restricts its use for larger craft. It is heavily used by the sailing club and its population of swans which have taken up residence since the Bray pumping station became operational, are a local attraction. The redevelopment of the harbour in the context of a marina development has already been mooted. One existing proposal has looked at the construction of a bar to the north, which would provide berthing for a large number of boats outside the existing harbour.
E4: It will be an objective to seek the redevelopment of the harbour in mixed uses, as a gateway project.
4.10. The land to the north of the harbour is currently occupied by lowgrade 'eyesore' industrial units. This site has been earmarked as a potential site for the proposed sewage treatment works.
E5: To provide for, if warranted, a wastewater treatment plant.
If the treatment of wastewater from Bray can be provided for within Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council area, the redevelopment of this site in uses compatible with the overall harbour redevelopment, will be considered during the Plan period.
4.11. The local GAA are currently looking for a replacement site which has the capacity to accommodate both a match pitch and a minimum of one other practice pitch. The practice pitch could be incorporated into the riverside strip of open space. Its location adjacent to the proposed gael scoil site should allow for shared use of the practice pitch by the school, also on the proviso that public access can be maintained on some basis.
4.12. The match pitch has the potential of generating a substantial amount of traffic on certain occasions. It therefore requires to be directly linked to the proposed new access road and ideally adjacent to the proposed car-park. A site has been identified immediately to the north of the proposed carpark, to the rear of Dwyer Park. It will however be important to ensure that the amenity of the latter is not unduly affected. To this end, a minimum 10 metre buffer is provided for between the residential boundaries and the rear of any proposed stands or seating. Any construction of stands will have to have regard to these residential properties, to minimise overshadowing, sound impact and to provide a planted tree screen along the 10 metre buffer zone. The construction of stands along this boundary will help to reduce the noise associated with such a use.
E6: Provide for replacement GAA facilities, including match and practice pitch and related built seating, stands, etc. Secure and maintain planting strip along western boundary to rear of Dwyer Park.
4.13. The reuse of the existing golf clubhouse to provide facilities for the GAA has been considered. However, the accommodation of the GAA requirement for match pitch and stands, as well as the need for a planted buffer to the rear of the proposed west stand, and a vehicular access to the carpark on the south west corner of the site, means that the existing clubhouse must be demolished. The allocation to the GAA of lands as described above, would be conditional upon the provision of public and vehicular access to the carpark and associated residential accommodation and upon nominal and visually unobtrusive fencing to the practice pitch, to restrict animals only, or to protect adjacent buildings as required. In view of the need to retain the open character of the floodplain as well as to facilitate the shared use of the active sports facilities, the location of this use has been approved by Council and is not regarded as indicative.
4.14. The provision of a car park will be dealt with below under traffic interventions. The impact of such a development must be considered under the section dealing with environmental interventions, however. The negative impact of carparks on the surrounding streetscape, is well recognised, in terms of both the lack of surveillance of public areas and the consequent reduction in urban safety and security, as well as their impact in strictly visual terms. Research elsewhere has led to the emergence of a large number of precedents, where the car park is screened by development, thus providing active uses to the frontages overlooking public areas and streets. In this instance, it is proposed to wrap the carpark with apartments on its southern and eastern boundaries, which can avail of the attractive environment and views of the river frontage, or overlook the proposed riverside open space.
Traffic Interventions (see figure 3)
4.15. The single most important traffic intervention in respect of developing the golf club lands is the provision of a suitable access. A range of access options were discussed in sections 2.15 - 2.22 above. The preferred option is to provide a spine road, which runs through the site, from the access point on the Industrial Yarns frontage, via the existing underpass, through to the harbour, which would be reopened for limited traffic only. This spine road would also be connected directly to the proposed carpark. The development of the site will be conditional on the provision of this spine road.
Tr1: Provide spine road access through site, linking directly to the carpark and running through to the rail underpass on the eastern boundary of the site.
4.16. Traffic congestion is particularly heavy, from Old Connaught Avenue into town. The construction of a new junction, accessing the site, will add to this congestion. It will be necessary therefore to provide turning lanes in both directions, in order to facilitate traffic movements and to avoid exacerbating the existing situation.
Tr2: Provide turning lanes along Dublin Road frontage to facilitate site access.
4.17. In addition to the spine road, access provision from other points will be encouraged, in order to spread the anticipated traffic across a number of junctions, although some of these may be restricted to certain turning movements only.
Tr3: Provide secondary access points to the site, including Ravenswell Road, and through or adjacent to former convent lands at Sunnybank.
4.18. Bray Town Centre has been losing out to retail centres, such as Cornelscourt, and this trend is exacerbated by current traffic congestion. Recent efforts to improve the town centre environment have included traffic and parking management. A major deficit still exists in the town centre, in terms of parking provision, which would allow the town to upgrade its retail environment and to widen its catchment. The provision of a car park at the northern end of Main Street was identified as an objective within the Bray IAP submitted to the DOE in early April 1998. Ideally, this facility should be located in the south-west corner of the site, where it is closest to both Castle Street retail area and Main Street. The provision of the pedestrian bridge referred to in section 4.18 and tr5 below, would help to connect it directly to the developing Florence Centre. Figs. 3 and 4 show the proposed carpark location. It is proposed to screen the carpark with single aspect apartments overlooking the open space and the river (see 4.13 above). This location has been approved by Council and is not regarded as indicative.
Tr4: Seek the provision of a carpark in the position shown on figure 4 complete with pedestrian bridge links across the Dargle and to Castle Street.
4.19. Urban and neighbourhood studies carried out over a number of years, in other countries, suggest that people are willing to walk up to 800m in urban areas, to access facilities on a daily basis. Even the most remote part of the site is located within 800m from Main Street and much of it is considerably closer to the retail facilities off Castle Street. Pedestrian linkages on and off site should be encouraged to ensure that the site is well connected to its surroundings and to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport to the car, including train, bus, bicycle, and walking.
Tr5: Provide pedestrian linkages to surroundings, including:
Design Concept and Proposal
4.20. As mentioned above, the site lies within 120 metres of Main Stret and as little as 300m from Bray DART station. The site is thus extremely well linked to city wide transport networks and is correspondingly suited to development at the higher densities appropriate to its urban location.
Higher density 'commercial' spine
4.21. The principle of higher density, particularly residential, development, is currently being debated extensively, in the context of the recently published Bacon Report on House Prices; the study commissioned on Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area; guidance contained in the national sustainability strategy 'A Strategy for Sustainable Development, A Strategy for Ireland', and most recently Circular Letter PD 4/98 Residential Density. This debate recognises the need to depart from the typically suburban densities of 8 houses to the acre and to move towards the provision of well designed higher density living, which can offer a greater level of service and facilities in prime urban locations. In addition, the DOE is set to publish recommended density guidelines, which are expected to formalise this position and are in the process of commissioning this work. The Circular Letter referred to above, recommends that specification by planning authorities of maximum density standards should generally be avoided and that specifying minimum density could be appropriate in some circumstances, for example, locations in proximity to public transport nodes and access points. A minimum density of 16 houses per acre has been suggested, although initial design studies suggest that higher densities can be achieved through careful design. Moreover, it is anticipated that the eventual guidelines are likely to use indicators such as bedspaces per hectare or acre, as a more accurate and useful portrayal of actual density of accommodation.
4.22. The interpretation of densities can be distorted by a calculation of gross density as opposed to nett residential density. The studies referred to above have omitted the land south of the proposed spine road. The residential density of these lands could be in excess of 26 units per acre, depending on the mix of apartments to houses. This is allowing for the provision of c20% (c2 hectares or 4.9 acres) of those lands in public open space usage.
4.23. The achievement of higher densities, whilst maintaining or even improving the standard of accommodation, will place an increasing emphasis on the use of designers.
DC1: Seek the development of the site at a density appropriate to its urban location.
4.24. The site will be accessed principally via a spine road, which will run through the site to the railway on the eastern boundary of the site and from which traffic will be dispersed into and through the adjacent, largely residential areas.
4.25. Certain uses, including the retail and commercial sectors, are less affected by or vulnerable to traffic and related noise, than are residential uses. These uses will be regarded as more appropriate along the spine road, particularly at ground floor level. Residential uses will be acceptable at above ground floor level and it is envisaged that a minimum of three storeys of residential development would be permitted above a retail or commercial use, along this spine, in order to maximise its prime location.
4.26. Development to the north of the proposed road, backing onto the existing residential properties, will also be encouraged, in order to provide greater security to this boundary, as shown on fig.4.
DC2: Seek the development of non-residential uses at ground level along the western end of the spine road, with residential or commercial uses above.
4.27. A site of approximately 6.37 acres has been identified for Colaiste Raithin, east of the proposed GAA practice pitch, contained within the riverside floodplain and overlooking the Dargle. This site will meet the standards of the Department of Education, provided access to the adjacent practice pitch can be achieved. Public access to both the GAA practice pitch and the gael scoil grounds out of hours should be encouraged.
DC3: Seek the development of a school on lands indicated on figure 4, and secure an agreement with the GAA for the use of the practice pitch by the school during school hours and by arrangement. This location has been approved by Council and is not regarded as indicative.
4.28. Those areas which overlook the proposed open spaces along the river, the railway and the park within the centre of the site, are regarded as particularly appropriate for higher density accommodation, comprising a range of apartments, duplexes, etc. These locations can also avail of the superb views south and west across the town.
4.29. The areas immediately adjacent to the residential areas at Corke Abbey will be developed principally in townhouses which respect their neighbours, particularly in terms of building heights. Even these locations however should be able to accommodate a marginally higher density if well designed. There should be a presumption in favour of well designed terraced housing, flats and duplexes, as well as a mix of unit types, such as old persons housing, apartments on the corners of blocks, smaller or starter units, family housing, etc.
DC4: Seek the development of the site in a range of unit types, sizes and densities, which make the most beneficial use of this well serviced, prime site.
4.30. In seeking to achieve a social mix, the Council will require an element of social housing to be provided. All suitable proposals will be considered by the local authority, from the provision of affordable housing in a variety of tenure types, to the provision of sites to the local authority.
4.31. In the older areas of any town or city, it is common to find a very low occupancy level, as the life cycle of the family changes and the children move away, leaving often no more than a single person in some of the often relatively larger, older properties. On the other hand, many older people find their accommodation outmoded, in terms of convenience, etc., and would move to suitable, preferably sheltered accommodation, if this was available. There is currently very little provision made for this type of accommodation, either locally or nationally.
4.32. Elsewhere, in parts of the UK, sheltered accommodation is accepted as social housing, which is frequently sought in local development plans as a percentage of all new units of residential accommodation in developments of greater than 20 units. This helps to ensure the provision of accommodation types which are not generally provided in commercially generated schemes. It also provides a return, albeit at a reduced rate, for the developer. Elderly persons or sheltered accommodation should also carry with it a reduced requirement for carparking, which can provide an additional if minor incentive for its provision.
DC5: Seek a minimum of at least 25% provision for social housing to include local authority housing in enclaves of generally not greater than 30 units.
5.1. Figure 4, together with the following schedule of accommodation, provides an indication of the development which might be achieved on site.
5.2. It is important to realise that the increase of residential densities requires a higher standard of planning and design, to ensure that the quality of the residential environment on offer is not eroded and ideally is improved. In most instances, this will require the services of qualified professionals.
5.3. The above table gives an indication of the required level of parking for development based on existing Development Plan standards. This Plan is currently under review and it is strongly recommended that the level of required parking should be relaxed, in view of the accessibility of the site by public transport.
5.4. Parking provision for the commercial elements of the scheme will be provided by a combination of on-site parking and parking within the structure of the building, as basement, or decked parking. Parking courtyards will be landscaped to help protect the amenlity of the occupants.
5.5. Some parking for the apartments will be provided as grouped parking on shared surfaces, whilst in some cases provision may be made for decked parking integral to the block. In this instance, this should be fully screened from the outside.
5.6. Bicycle parking will be sought as part of the overall scheme. In particular, secure bicycle parking in the vicinity of the GAA match pitch, perhaps utilising land to the rear of the proposed stands will be encouraged. Additional provision should be made in terms of bicycle parking stands, adjacent to apartments overlooking open space, and integral to the commercial elements of the scheme.
6.1. The implementation of this Action Area Plan will be largely dependent upon the activities of the private sector. The Plan is intended to establish guiding principles for use in preparing development proposals for the site.
6.2. Certain activities or elements were identified to conform to the criteria of the IAP guidlines and were therefore included for designation. Specifically, the development of a carpark, together with a pedestrian footbridge and the single aspect apartments on the south and east elevations, were included in the Bray IAP as a sub-area. Bray has not been awarded Designated status.
6.3. The development of the harbour as a flagship project was also included.
6.4. It is envisaged that the site will be developed by one or more private developers, who will be expected to adhere to the policies and principles of this Action Area Plan in achieving that development.