In Cabra, Gas Station ‘Las Vegas Lighting’ Is Ruining Neighborhood, Residents Say

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In his garden on Monday night, lit by the red neon of the gas station canopy a few feet from his wall, Steve Doogan says he knew when he bought this house that there was a permit for a station -service.

But he never imagined that such a massive structure would be allowed in a residential area, he says.

The disused old garage building that used to be there was unimpressive, he says, even though it looks like it belongs on a highway.

“It’s one of the most personally offensive things,” he says. “You have that kind of Las Vegas lighting at the end of the garden.”

In January 2019, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the large self-service petrol station on Old Cabra Road, said Deirdre McFeely, secretary of the Glenbeigh Area Residents Association.

This was after an appeal and residents had to accept the decision, she said.

But they were surprised, she says, when the service station was completed earlier this year. There was the bright red neon light pouring into some gardens.

But also, the square deviates from the planning permission on several points, in particular the height of construction, the absence of vegetation and the positioning of the panels.

“As a community, it’s hard to know what to do or where to turn when you feel completely let down by the scheduling system,” McFeely says.

In early September, Dublin City Council issued an enforcement notice to petrol station owners, the Nissan Coal Company, for breaching planning permission conditions, including that that light must be diverted from houses neighbours.

The owners of the Nissan Coal Company did not respond to a request for discussion on Friday sent through its online form.

But on July 28, the company had requested a “retention authorization”, to keep certain characteristics such as the height of the building which do not comply with the authorization granted.

Sparkling light

Doogan says he’s having trouble determining from the planning file if that bright red light shining in his garden was allowed by the planners.

In any case, it affects his garden all evening in winter, he says.

He also has large double doors in his kitchen, so once the red light comes on, it invades his house as well. “With the winter evenings coming, it happens earlier and earlier,” he says.

The lights go out around 11:15 p.m. when the station closes, he says. (This is in accordance with the building permit.)

McFeely, who is also his neighbor, says Doogan and a few others living next to him are particularly affected because their backyards are right next to the gas station.

However, the whole area would benefit if the owners complied with all the reasonable conditions set out in the initial planning permission, she says.

On September 1, Dublin City Council issued an enforcement notice citing planning conditions stating that property owners must comply with a lighting plan agreed in advance with the planning authority.

And that: “Lighting serving the site should be directed away from adjacent dwellings and should be directed and covered in such a way as to reduce light spill onto adjacent houses and gardens.”

The notice had to be complied with in the period from September 12 to November 14, it said.

It doesn’t appear that any effort has yet been made to deflect the bright red light from the gas station canopy, which sits a few feet from Doogan’s garden.

Steve Doogan’s garden. Photo by Laoise Neylon.

McFeely says there’s no need for the back of the canopy to be lit at all.

It’s the front that needs to be visible to passing traffic on the road, she says. “They could have implemented a less offensive design and still made so much money.”

In addition to unwanted bright lights in some gardens, McFeely says the large sign at the front of the gas station is supposed to be lit from the outside, which would be much less intrusive.

That means lights shining from the base rather than bright red lights coming out of the panel, she says.

The owners were supposed to plant trees – or hedges – at the back of the resort as cover between the resort and Doogan’s garden, she says, but they didn’t.

McFeely is surprised that no one checks that what was built in the end complied with the building permit granted, she said.

Says Doogan: “It’s so weird that they’re allowed to build whatever they want.”

keeping it

In July, Nissan Coal Ltd submitted an application for conservation authorization. It is a way to obtain authorization after the fact, for work that was carried out without it.

The application indicates that the current development is in accordance with the development plan of the city, and in accordance with the good planning and sustainable development of the area.

This request indicates that the gas station awning is higher than permitted. The owner requested, among other things, “modifications to the forecourt canopy, including increased height and a revised design,” it says.

The application also requested permission to place the main free-standing sign at the front – called a totem sign – 3 meters from the path, despite the planning permission having said it should be 4 metres. (This sign currently appears to start about 1 meter from the edge of the trail.)

The owners have also requested permission to install new LED signs and vending machines, among other things.

Several public representatives have weighed in on the app.

“This stay request appears to be the result of an execution planning decision to ensure these original terms are met,” wrote Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan and Councilor Darcy Lonergan.

“The orderly development of the city cannot be ensured if the developers believe that the planning conditions are optional,” their submission reads.

Additionally, while the positioning of the totem sign was addressed in the retention request, the requirement for external lighting was not, they wrote.

Independent Councilor Cieran Perry said: ‘As height and the possibility of trespassing on neighboring properties is always a contentious issue, it is unacceptable for the developer to increase height in breach of planning and then seek to retain it.’

Given existing complaints about the lighting, any additional LED signs should be handled through the standard planning process and not a hold request, he says.

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