The Archdiocese of Dublin has made a submission to Dublin City Council on the Draft Dublin City Development Plan 2022–28 in response to the public invitation to submit views as part of the statutory planning process.
The Draft Plan proposes a zoning status for certain institutional lands which would preclude any housing or office development in all but “highly exceptional” circumstances. In its submission, the Archdiocese has pointed out that this would unfairly restrict options which might be appropriate in the event that a church or school property was no longer required to meet the needs of the mission of the Church in particular areas. A more reasonable approach would be to allow future uses of redundant sites to be considered on their merits, without unnecessary restrictions.
Individual sites were referenced in the submission to illustrate the scope of the proposed zoning restrictions. The submission made it clear, and the Archdiocese reiterates, that it has no plans for any change of use of current properties, other than a project in Finglas West which is already well advanced. Most Precious Blood – Cabra West Parish has in the past, also facilitated the construction of social housing across a significant portion of their church site.
Dublin is experiencing great change, as reflected in population movement, commuting patterns and social and cultural attitudes. The Church in Dublin is acutely conscious of the need for responsible stewardship of the resources in its care and the need to develop new ways of accompanying the people of our time. The Archdiocese recently published a Statement of Mission which highlights the need for new thinking and a shift of mind-set. This Statement was issued to mark a period of review and renewal which is beginning across the Archdiocese. Like every charity, the Church in Dublin is required to satisfy itself that resources continue to be appropriately used in support of its mission.
In that context, it is likely that in the future specific properties will become redundant. It is appropriate that the Archdiocese would highlight its concern at possible unfair restrictions on the range of options in that event. Unfair restrictions could give rise to the appearance and reality of discrimination, however unintended.
It is not long since the Church, through the Irish Episcopal Conference, was asked by Government, through the Minister for Housing, to cooperate in addressing the housing crisis by making surplus land and buildings available for housing development. In response, the Bishops’ Conference indicated their desire that redundant parish properties should, as in the past, whenever appropriate, be made available for housing and especially social housing. It seems ironic that this would appear to be made more difficult by the proposed zoning status of significant numbers of properties in Dublin.
The Archdiocese welcomes the opportunity to bring its concerns to public attention during the consultative phase of the preparation of Development Plan.
- Archbishop Dermot Farrell is Archbishop of Dublin.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby +353 (0) 86 862 3298.