The consultation period for Sallins local area plan closed today. A number of representations I’d made to the council over the previous period were contained in the eventual draft so I was already quite pleased with the shape of the plan when it issued for consultation. Nonetheless I made a final submission today reiterating some key points and highlighting where omissions still existed.
In brief I covered the following areas:
My full submission is available in Word format here or I reproduce a text only version below:
Sallins village has grown rapidly in recent years and the village infrastructure has been under strain for some time. Now a public transport hub, the village has become a focal point for commuter driven growth and has witnessed rapid expansion. The rudimentary facilities that served a population of hundreds are no longer adequate to serve a population of five thousand plus.
This submission is intended to compliment the draft development plan which it is felt marks a good first step in establishing a framework of future village development. The draft plan acknlowedges the services and amenity deficit and attempts to address same. It is also welcome that the draft plan recognises the unique environmental and heritage aspects of the village in particular with regard to the surrounding waterways (Canal and Liffey).
2. Sallins Bypass Route
As a first observation it should be stressed that current volumes of traffic through the village place huge strain on local infastructure and traffic flows. Congestion occurs constantly as traffic volumes struggle to pass through the village from both sides. Pedestrian and cycle usage is hindered also. Heavy traffic such as HGVs are particulalry undesriable given that the same corridor is used daily by school children and ordinary village traffic.
In this light it is considered vital that progress on the bypass continue and that the project move to detailed design and construction stages as a matter of urgency.
The emerging preferred route also is welcomed in particular the fact that the residential estates along the western side of the village will no longer be impacted.
Whilst understanding the constraints and again stressing an outer route is most appropriate I would state a concern that the emerging route comes very close to an area of outstanding natural and heritage landscape, namely the Leinster Aqueduct and surrounds. It would be my strong view that the route developement along this stretch should seek to minimise impact upon the natural, environmental, aesthetic and heritage aspects of the location.
I would also suggest that some form of sound barrier be considered to insulate the estates on the outskirts of the village as traffic can already be heard from the N7 in some parts.
3. Road Reservation and Green Space
The green space in estates Sallins Pier, Sallins Wharf and Castlesize which was originally designated for inner bypass route has been established by local usage as amenity space. The precedent has been set over many years by children at play, by formal and informal residents events and by general usage patterns. Given the shortage of green space within the village as a whole, it is particularly important these estates now retain the access and amenity use of the green spaces within those residential areas. It is recognised that legal and other implications can arise from a change of zoning and that wording is provided within the draft plan to secure the land as amenity without a zoning change. It is felt whatever formula is necessary should be applied to ensure this land remains available to the residents.
4. Parking within village (casual and commuter)
It is noted that the draft plan has a stated goal of parking management within village and that Pay and Display may be introduced. It is felt that such management of spaces would be of benefit to the village and would discourage inappropriate all day parking within village which currently manifests frequently as a side-effect from the railway station.
It would be essential that any such parking management scheme would cover the possibility of residential estates being used for all day parking instead. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure estates do not become car parking targets once street level spaces have come under a management structure.
Within the railway station carpark there are currently two different operators and differing fare structures which may be a contributory factor to commuter parking within the village (the underground is ran by a private operator whereas the older carpark is managed by Irish Rail). Standardisation of this system would be welcome. Enhancement and general tidy up of the station car park would help encourage greater takeup of the spaces within.
There are a number of junctions around the village such as Osberstown Court and Main Street, Chapel Avenue and Main street, where double yellow lines have recently been introduced. Greater enforcement is needed of these as problem parking continues.
5. Amenity and Waterways Developments
Sallins is home to many many young families yet is severely lacking in childrens’ amenities. A playground would be a most welcome and much used feature at any location within the village.
The linear park proposal is very welcome and would allow utilisation of the great natural amenity which surrounds the village (the Liffey) but which is not easily accessed at present.
Other enhancements to further utilise the surrounding environment would be creation of a towpath walk from Odlums mill site around by Obserstown bridge and back around into the village by road. An informal route is already in use from the Sallins Pier estate but the towpath could be ehanced by some surface gravel, additional safety rings, bench etc.
It would also make sense to site on of the proposed footbridges to connect this route back to the linear park area and other side of the village without having to travel back down onto the main street and around.
6. Civic needs and security
Increased civic building or land usage would be of benefit to the village also. There are a number of derelict buildings (in particular Braithwaithe house) which could be sympathetically developed into a library, post office, community centre or Garda sub-station.
A community centre is badly needed as the existing building is dilapidated and over subscribed.
A Garda sub-station would enable more pernament Garda presence within the village. Whilst Sallins is mostly peaceful, there have been repeated recent incidents of anti-social behavour and vandalism and it may be worth considering a CCTV system, around the central square at least. Of course additional amenity provision would help address these
7. Protected Structures
In addition to currently protected structures the well at mouth of GAA grounds and dry dock at Canal bank beside Sallins Pier should be protected and included on list of such structures in final area plan.
8. Pavement Improvements
A sound and solid footpath should run from the beginning of the village at the Naas approach right out to the Clane road. Pavement should be of sufficient width to allow buggies and/or wheelchairs to use with dishing on all kerbs.
As part of the Castlesize road widening project it it suggested that a footpath be provided along the new stretch of road from Sallins village out to Bodenstown cemetry. This would allow local people visit the cemetry in safety.
Also the road from Osberstown junction to Osberstown canal bridge is only partly paved and as this forms part of a popular walking circuit this should be paved in entirety as well.
The proposal to widen the canal bridge and to widen footpath across same is considered essential and its inclusion in development plan welcomed, as currently children use this daily for school access and safety is an issue with the current narrow pavement. On one side there is virtually no pavement, from Odlums mill up over the bridge, and access to the canal is made difficult and dangerous.
9. Traffic Management
The junction at Osberstown Drive/Chapel Avenue/Main Street has a pedestrian crossing just past it. It is suggested to relocate this crossing just slightly to come in line with the existing junction, to regulate access for motorists entering the Main street from either side and also to enable pedestrian traffic cross to the school, church and train station in safety from the other side.
Another junction requiring control measures is road from Osberstown cottages onto R407 where a set of lights have been erected but not yet enabled. This junction should be incorporated into the overall traffic management scheme with alacirty to enable residents here access the main road.
Whilst it is envisaged traffic flows within the village will ease greatly once the bypass is operational there are still reasonable volumes of local traffic which could benefit from additional control measures. In particular internal village traffic accessing school, train station, church and motorways will still intersect and conflict at key points.
A longer term solution to manage traffic flows around the village could be the creation of a one way system as illustrated in below diagram:
The solution above would require construction of an extra bridge across canal and is understood to be a longer term solution. However it may be the best long term approach.
Traffic flows in above diagram are indicative as is exact location of new bridge, many permutations on above theme would probably work in practice.
(The Parish Development proposals also involve changes to traffic flows around the church block and surrounds which I support. This measures outlined here are viewed as complementary to the parish development project.)
10. Disability Access
Any further development within the village should be made accessible to people with disabilities. Sallins train station currently has no elevator crossing. Assurances have recently been provided that one will be included in the statino upgrade but this was not referenced in the original planning application. This should be mandated.
The widened canal bridge and/or the new footbridges should be rendered suitable for disabled access also as should any other new route ways or developments within village.
11. Canal Moorings
Currently several boats occupy the canal harbour at Sallins on an informal basis. No formal mooring scheme is in operation and there is frequent mobility of boats and also some competition with casual traffic for moorings. Whilst some boats are effectively permanent, most are not recognised as such for postal address, electoral register etc.
Also sewerage provision is inadequate and majority waste currently exits directly into canal waters. This is undesirable for the canal bank residents and the broader environment.
In conjunction with Waterways Ireland, a more formal system of mooring posts should be created.Appropriate ’berths’ could be assigned to various boats with casual ’berths’ available for more transient visitors.
A pump out station or other sewerage management mechanism for the boats should also be considered.
12. Cemetry Provision
A site should be identified as a replacement for Bodenstown cemetry which is currently the parish cemetry but has finite capacity. Perhaps a site along the canal/Liffey bed could be identified if one is not available within the new parish development scheme.
13. Recycling Bays
Recycling bays are required within the village. I have been working with the council environment officer to locate such a facility within the Wateways develoment and have secured agreement from the site owner, developer and anchor tenants. However a difficulty exists in identifying a suitable parking space which could be freed up. Each space within the development has a designated usage as per planning permissions.
If a space could be allocated within the development this would enable recycling bins become available in the short term.
14. Public Transport
Whilst the village is considered a public transport hub due to the commuter rail service, provision of public transport at local level is less comprehensive. Ironically it can be easier (and cheaper) to travel to Dublin from Sallins at certain times than into neighbouring Naas. A public bus service should run 7 days a week and into the evening to allow access to the wider range of recreational amenities in Naas town. Currently the last bus runs at 7pm.
Also the village is barely served by Bus Eireann, probably as the rail link exisits. However orbital routes such as to Maynooth college would be most useful.
A public transport corridor to include links from Sallins rail station, Millenium Park, Monread Triangle and Naas Hospital has been mooted on several ocassions and is referenced in the Naas town development plan currently in force. Some form of light rail or shuttle bus service to operate at both off peak and business hours would be welcome.
15. Market Square
The demographics of Sallins village and its picturesque setting, coupled with its proximity to rural/ agricultural areas should support the development of a farmers’ market and other specialist type retail activity. The village could establish a niche for high value, principally locally sourced products which would enhance the villages chracter and identity.
16. Educational Needs
Having come under intense strain at an earlier stage, Sallins N.S. has recently been extended which should provide sufficient capacity for current population levels. However any further projected population growth would have to encompass capacity planning at the primary school level and funding for additional places if necessary. (Any new developments should be subject to this consultation under new Department of Environment guidelines anyhow)
Whilst the new classrooms were obviously welcome, playing fields and playground facilities at the school have been reduced to make way for the additional buildings. Zoning of the field next to school would appear an opportunity to address this and provide playing areas appropriate to the school size.
Traditionally Sallins students have attended secondary school in neighbouring Naas or sometimes Clane, however it is becoming increasingly difficult to find accomodation. It should be considered whether the current population merits a secondary school in its own right or whether Sallins should be considered as catchment for Naas secondary expansions. Provision will have to be made at some level for the current crop of primary school children to move onto second level in the near future.