Plans to develop a large new cemetery within the grounds of the Citywest Hotel and Convention Centre in Dublin may have to be buried following an objection by a local resident who claims it will be “a waste of space”.
An appeal had been lodged with An Bord Pleanála against the recent decision of South Dublin County Council to grant planning permission to the hotel’s owners, Cape Wrath Hotel, for the new cemetery on the site of the former 18-hole golf course at Citywest.
The resident, Colm McGrath, claims the cemetery is “unsustainable, unnecessary and unviable” due to a dramatic reduction in the demand for burials in Dublin.
The proposed cemetery will contain a total of 8,047 burial plots and columbarium walls as well as a single-storey reception building on a 13.45-hectare site.
Cape Wrath Hotel, which is part of the property investment group Tetrarch Capital, also plans to provide new access from Garter’s Lane to the N7 with two access points to serve the proposed cemetery.
It reduced the number of car park spaces from the original proposal of 110 to 66 in response to a request for further information from council planners.
The company said the development would provide a significant quantum of burial plots to serve existing communities in the Saggart, Rathcoole and Fortunestown area together with a wide range of burial types that would cater for people of all beliefs.
It said the project would also involve extensive tree planting with the cemetery being designed to reflect the fairway character of the site’s recent use as a golf course through a series of interconnected “parkland” areas.
The hotel’s owners said the cemetery would be managed and maintained by a third party operator.
Another part of the golf course, which has not been in use since 2000, is currently the subject of a separate planning application for a solar development.
In the appeal, the local resident, Colm McGrath claims there has been a strong falloff in demand for burials in cemeteries across west Dublin.
Mr McGrath said the ratio of burials to cremations in Dublin was currently 30:70.
He claimed a recently opened cemetery in Lucan had anticipated up to nine burials per week but were averaging only two burials per month.
Mr McGrath said the existing cemetery in Saggart has an average of one burial per month.
“I submit therefore that the proposed cemetery at Citywest is unsustainable, unnecessary and unviable; in simple terms – a waste of space,” he said.
The appellant said the Saggart community deserved better and more imaginative development proposals from the owners of one of the largest hotels in Europe.
“The overarching tenet of planning is that it be for the common good. This proposal fails in that regard,” he remarked.
Given the site’s location next to the Citywest hotel, he said the proposed development represented an inexplicable underutilisation of a prime leisure and recreational asset.
Mr McGrath said the proposed cemetery made no sense unless it was “a philanthropic gesture” by Citywest’s owners.
Saggart Village Residents’ Association has expressed concern about the “ad hoc approach” to planning on the Citywest lands and called on the council to develop a local area plan for Saggart.
The Rathcoole Community Council also raised concerns about the loss of designated green leisure space and the potential for the cemetery to create additional traffic congestion around Saggart.
A ruling by An Bord Pleanála on the appeal against the cemetery is due before the end of January 2024.
Cape Wrath was paid €34 million last year by the Department of Integration for providing accommodation to Ukrainian refugees and other asylum seekers at the 764-bed hotel in Citywest.