Joe Behan - Independent Councillor - Wicklow County Council

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Florentine Fiasco

Archive Statements > 2018

Florentine Fiasco
3rd May 2018

Councillors were informed without notice on Tuesday night last that the Council management has agreed significant alterations to the proposed car park for the new Florentine Centre. We were further told that the developer has suggested additional radical alterations to allow him to develop apartments instead of shopping units. This is despite the fact that the project has been signed off by Councillors and Bord Pleanala and the developer was understood to have accepted all aspects of the proposed development before his tender bid was accepted.

It now appears that underground car parking is replacing surface level car parking even though the Council had specifically decided against underground parking for various reasons. It also appears that the developer would stand to gain enormously from any move to replace first floor shopping units with apartments and this gain would be at the expense of the taxpayers and citizens of Bray and the county. Incredible as it may seem, a majority of Councillors at the Bray Council meeting have agreed to consider this and plans will be put to Councillors in the next few weeks. If Councillors agree in principle with the proposed major change, the developer will not have to go to the bother of applying for planning permission in the normal way. Instead Council officials will take charge of the proposal and it will be run as a Part 8 process which bypasses the normal planning system for regular planning applications for ordinary citizens. This is completely and absolutely outrageous. A major developer in this country is being allowed to make and propose significant changes to a development after the tender process is completed and whereby he stands to make huge additional profits at the taxpayers’ expense.

It further was revealed on Tuesday last that the developer will be closing the Florentine car park in 2 weeks time. Again, unbelievably, the Council management has no alternative car parking put in place for the hundreds of cars which will be displaced when the car park closes. While there are plans to put a temporary surface for 120 cars in the old Bray Golf Club within the next few weeks, the extension to the Herbert Road car park is unlikely to be even commenced for some time. This is wholly unacceptable treatment of the shoppers and traders in the town. It means we are facing a total shambles in Bray in 2 weeks time with inadequate parking and no clear plan to replace all the spaces which will be lost.

I am calling on the Chief Executive of the Council to take charge of this chaotic mess and halt the closure of the Florentine car park until enough alternative parking spaces are actually available for use. Furthermore, he should instruct the developer to build the shopping centre and car park specifically according to the design agreed by Councillors as part of the tender process. If he does not comply, the agreement should be rescinded and we should consider alternatives for the entire Florentine site.

Cllr. Joe Behan


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