Plans for Shanganagh Park at centre of legal action now under review by council

Dún Laoghaire council’s plans to relocate Cuala GAA club’s pitches in Shankill park strongly resisted

Plans to relocate sports facilities in a South Dublin park, which led to a High Court challenge last year, are under review by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, following a public consultation report which found low levels of support for the project.

The local authority wants to redesign Shanganagh Park in Shankill, with the relocation of playing fields leased to a Dalkey-based GAA club to the centre of the park – a move strongly resisted by large numbers of Shankill residents.

The council in 2019 produced a master plan to upgrade the park from local to regional status. Phase one of the project involved the provision of floodlit grass pitches, a sprint track and a shared baseball and cricket area. The creation of this “active recreation zone” in a meadow area at the centre of the park was a “priority for the park upgrade because of a dire lack of facilities” to support sports clubs, the council said.

As part of the plan, GAA pitches leased to Cuala GAA, currently at the western edge of the park next to the Dublin Road, would be moved to the centre of the park, close to housing estates.


In 2021, the council began its planning process for the project, which attracted almost 400 public submissions, 72 per cent of which were opposed to the plans, largely due to concerns with traffic, and the loss of the open space and biodiversity.

However, the council said sport clubs had been asked to only make one submission each and “it is therefore considered that support for the project is much greater than the 69 submissions received”.

Last May, the plans were approved by the council. Two months later, local residents initiated judicial review proceedings against the decision on a number of grounds, including that the planning application referenced the previous, rather than current, county development plan, as well as environmental concerns relating to reports on overwintering birds and impact of floodlighting on bats. In October the council conceded the case.

The same month the council hired community engagement firm Connect the Dots to hold consultations with residents and sports clubs, as well as schools.

Its report published in recent weeks found “very strong feelings on the proposed plans, with most generally expressing negative opinions”. A recurring suggestion from all groups was “that the existing location of sports in the park was much better suited to facilitating this than the area proposed in the plan”.

The existing pitches had the additional benefits of being close to public transport links and parking facilities, respondents stated. “Any noise or light pollution associated with sports activities is lessened by virtue of them being located in an already busy area,” the report said.

A spokesman for the Save Shanganagh Park campaign said the lack of support for the council’s plan was evident. “It is clear from the Connect the Dots report that the only people who want these facilities in that meadow area are the council themselves. Despite three rounds of plans and consultations and court orders, we haven’t seen any plans that take on board the wishes of the community or the sports clubs.”

The council should “swallow their pride” he said, and upgrade the sports facilities in their current location “The sustainable route from an economic, social, and environmental point of view all points to upgrading and enhancing existing facilities rather than ripping out open green space.”

Colm Small, Cuala club secretary, said the club was reserving its position until it saw the council’s revised plans. He said, however, while it “always wants more pitches” it had not sought a relocation at Shanganagh.

“Cuala are 40 years in the park, we are absolutely comfortable keeping what we have and where we are. We have two pitches at the front and we never looked for anything more than that. Cuala never wanted this, and weren’t behind it; this whole park redevelopment is actually fully on the council.”

The council had been due to initiate a new planning process on February 3rd but a spokeswoman said it was now “reviewing the representations and consultations” and would be “reporting back shortly”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times