Update from Bray Municipal District Meeting 3rd November 2021
Yesterday evening we held our Bray Municipal District meeting, our first hybrid meeting which allowed many of us to be present in the Town Hall for the first time in many months.
On the Agenda for this meeting were the following items.
Adoption of the Bray Municipal District Budget
The Municipal District Budget is a fairly rigid process with little room for changes, however there is one area which allows for greater influence, namely the ‘Discretionary Fund’. This fund is allocated to each Municipal District and members can make decision on how it is allocated. In 2021 there was no Discretionary Budget as it was decided not to increase the property tax which I was in favour of and believed was the right decision.
Although I have my own views on the LPT and believe it is a flawed system, currently it is what we have to work with. The changes this year to new bands will see a decrease for many and as such I supported a small increase to allow for the area to have a Discretionary Budget for the year ahead. These are difficult decision to make but done so with the wider community in mind.
This allowed Bray to have €265,000 Discretionary Fund this year.
The overall budget was passed on a vote with 7 Councillors for and 1 Councillor against the budget.
We then moved onto the discussion of the Discretionary Fund element.
In advance of the meeting, I had asked the District Engineer to provide a report on issues that had been raised with the MD by all Councillors, members of the public, through previous consultations such as Part 8 reports and the 2019 Health Check for Bray Town. The Engineer made a presentation on works totally €265,000, €200,00 going towards footpath improvements and €60,000 towards the development of Bray Head which has a SAO (Special Amenity Order) on it.
This proposal was then discussed by the members. Any member could bring forward proposals, make comments, make suggestions and then any proposals went for a vote. There were 3 motions (proposals) put forward.
1. Accept the proposal to allocate €200,000 to footpath repairs but suspend any decision on the €60,000 element until further submissions are made.
2. Make no decision on the €265,000
3. Make an allocation based on proposal submitted.
I voted against options 1 & 2, and supported option 3.
I did this for the following reasons.
· I supported the proposed allocations and am aware of these issues being raised by our community many times.
· €250,000 has recently been awarded to the Ballywaltrim area in Bray from Healthy Ireland Funding.
· Kilmacanogue has been recently awarded funding for a biodiversity project.
· Enniskerry has received significant funding to carry out works at the Bog Meadow Car Park & other improvement works in the village.
· The allocation of monies to footpath repairs is across Bray, Enniskerry & Kilmacanogue and represents real issues around accessibility for the community.
· The recommendations from Bray Health Check carried out with significant consultation in 2019 supports the work being proposed.
· Delays due to Covid can have a negative impact on getting work carried out due to delays, the more time officials have to organise work the sooner we will see it in place.
The following allocation was passed by a vote of 5 for and 3 against.
It was decided at the meeting to allocate the funds as follows
€200k for footpath repairs. Bray MD have no other funding available for such repairs. Damaged footpaths cause real accessibility issues for everyone but especially those with a disability or access issue. These issues are constantly raised by Councillors and the public and need to be address.
€5,00 for new benches in Sidmonton Park. The current benches are 30 years old and are not suitable for wheelchair users. This really popular park has huge involvement of the local residents in its management and has a lot of use.
€30,000 for development of a plan for the former Par 3 on Bray Head in consultation with the SAAO Committee, Bray Head Residents Association, and other stakeholders such as Biodiversity Bray. Any plan will be sensitive to the area and biodiversity.
€4,000 to support the work of Bray Fire Services and Robbie Doyle and their work on the installation of defibrillators in the area and equipment to help train the community in CPR.
€5,000 for Fáilte Park, Bray. Works to be identified in consultation with the Residents Association. This is Brays longest standing age friendly housing scheme and needs significant improvements in the common areas.
€3,000 for Christmas lights in Enniskerry. Enniskerry does not at present receive support for this work, however Bray supports the Bray Chamber in the sum of €20,000 for the lights and Christmas event in Bray.
€3,000 for the development of a master plan for the People’s Park. This has been identified as a need recently by the DARA (Dargle Area Residents Association) and members of the community. It will allow the wider community to be part of the development of a plan that outlines the community views for the area in the future.
Presentation on Pollinator Plan & Bray MD Approach
The members received a presentation on the District current approach to supporting the Pollinator Plan and the plan itself. There was a good discussion on the actions. The Engineer outlined why some areas were chosen for less mowing and the development of meadows and welcomed feedback from the community or the Elected Representations of any changes that could be made.
Árd na Gréine
The proposed housing scheme will comprise of 21 no. 2 bed houses (2-storey) and 10 No. 3 bed houses (2-storey). Work is progressing well with the construction of the units. The brick and block laying to the external walls is complete. The installation of site services is continuing. The new ESB substation to the site has been powered up in preparation for the connecting of the houses. Internally, fit out is continuing with the installation of kitchens and bathrooms, and painting of houses. The houses are due to be ready for occupation early in 2022.
Following Planning under MD approval in November 2020, design development and tender, the tender evaluation has now been completed, by WCC’s shadow consultant team. Following this a Stage IV approval was lodged with the DHLGH on the 13th of October. WCC could potentially expect to commence pre contract discussions mid November 2021. This is for a high specification and A2 rated apartment block of 14 No ambulant/accessible units, comprising of 8 No one beds, 3 no three beds, and 3 no two beds, all with ‘dual aspect’, balcony or winter-garden.
Respond Housing Association have commenced the preparation of the tender documents
Respond Housing Association have commenced the preparation of the tender documents
Council staff are continuing to look at issues in relation to access; a preliminary design of a bridge is also currently being undertaken. We have engaged with the Housing Agency with regard to design and master-planning of the scheme.
Offer letters have issued to applicants for this development. It is expected that tenants will take up occupancy before the end of 2021. It is proposed to hold a pre-tenancy meeting in early November.
The Roads report was presented which outlines work in the area. Councillors had an opportunity to raise issues and seek clarification. I sought a date for the reinstatement of the bollards at the rea of the Town Hall (McDonalds) which will be confirmed shortly.
Update on Bray Harbour
RPS Ltd were appointed to further appraise and develop a masterplan for the onshore elements of Bray Harbour following the report by RPS Ltd of the Bray Harbour Improvements Feasibility Study. This work is essential to provide clarity to the overall direction of the Bray Harbour Improvements before progressing to detailed design. Draft options for regeneration of onshore facilities around the harbour that would enhance the public realm and reorganise space to provide for additional water-based leisure and commercial activities was presented. Initial discussions took place between the council and some key property owners and leaseholders that would be affected by proposals to relocate their facilities in early October. RPS Ltd have been instructed to follow up with all of the relevant stakeholders to determine the viability of the options being considered. Additionally, RPS have been asked to explore an option that does not necessitate relocating existing occupiers but aims to gain space for the public realm and new activities by a combination of reduced parking provision and land reclamation. A foreshore licence will be required for all of the offshore works agreed following the completion and approval of the Bray Harbour Feasibility Study and the Bray Harbour Masterplan. It is hoped that we will be in a position to appoint a consultant for the detailed design of all the works before next summer.
Update on Bray Central
Due to Covid-19 there has been some impact on the works and program. These impacts have been assessed over the last few weeks and the main contractor has commenced back with works on site. The overall works are coming to a close and practical completion is anticipated to be before the 31st of January 2022. The crane removal has marked the end of large elements of the construction work. Heads of terms have gone out to several new retail and leisure tenants. To date, there is excellent interest from a number of operators for the smaller retail units.
As always please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information.