Friday, 21 April 2017

Stock: Official stats overestimate the rate of construction

There are 2,003,645 houses and apartments across the State, an increase of just 8,800, or 0.4pc, since 2011. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) says there are currently 421 dwellings for every 1,000 people in the State, a fall from 435 just five years ago. It says that while most homes are single-dwelling units, some 95 buildings have 100 units or more. The most populated building in the State has 372 dwellings, and is home to 882 people. The drop off in the number of homes available is due to the marked slowdown in new house completions.

Read the rest of Paul Melia's article in the Irish Independent

Frank McDonald: Housing dysfunction is laid bare by CSO

The staggering scale of Ireland’s housing crisis has been laid bare by theCentral Statistics Office, with figures from the 2016 census showing that the total stock grew by a tiny fraction – only 0.4 per cent – over the previous five years, despite a huge increase in demand for accommodation. In what the CSO described as a “clear picture” of some of the main developments in housing since 2011, only 8,800 units were added to the stock in that period, in sharp contrast to the growth of 225,232 dwellings recorded between 2006 and 2011, towards the end of the property bubble era.
Read the full article @ Irish Times

Friday, 31 March 2017

Nationwide planning aid for third parties and communities faced with objecting to planning applications

Brendan Buck maintains a planning aid service for individuals and communities faced with objecting to planning applications of all sizes. Please contact Brendan on 087-2615871 or email to obtain:

§  answers to questions people often ask about planning

§  clear, simple explanations of how the planning system works

§  signposting on where to go next

§  Information is provided on all aspects of the planning system including national policy, plan making, the planning application process, enforcement and appeals.

If, having contacted Brendan you still need help, our planning aid service offers a limited amount of free, general planning advice ('limited' means up to 15 minutes' advice by email).

Brendan is a professionally qualified planning advisor and is happy to answer enquiries on any planning-related issues in Ireland. He responds to respond to approx. 200 queries a month on a range of topics including how to comment on planning applications, the planning process, planning appeals and enforcement.

Brendan’s advice is professional and independent and is a key method to help people to engage in the planning process.

Please be aware that:

1.  We don't provide pre-application advice about a specific site or planning application - you'll need to contact your local planning authority for this.

2.  We don't provide free advice to other professionals (e.g. architects, surveyors). Professional advice is subject to professional fees.

Concerns over Donabate traffic arising from recent planning permissions

The issue of construction traffic in Donabate has once again been raised with the HSE with a local TD claiming that it is of major concern for local residents. A number of projects are taking place in the area including the development of the National Forensic Hospital. Other works include work on the Tusla resident childcare facility project which is due to be completed in the first quarter of this year. Furthermore, construction work is due to commence on the ground floor of block 1.2.3 at St. Ita's hospital campus towards the end of this month. Deputy Alan Farrell (FG) said: 'Construction traffic in Donabate is a major concern for many residents in the local community, particularly as we approach further development for the new National Forensic Mental Hospital at St. Ita's.

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

Planning expires on 36 social housing units in Arklow, County Wicklow

Bitter disappointment was expressed by members of Arklow Municipal District that the chance of having 36 new Cluid housing units built in Arklow is all but gone. Cllr Tommy Annesley raised the matter at the latest district meeting, saying that he heard that a planning application for 36 units on the Vale Road was about to expire and the members knew nothing about it. 'We need to find out what this is all about. We need to get more information on this,' he said. Cllr Miriam Murphy supported this view and said that she was shocked to learn of the situation. 'We get regular reports from the housing officers, yet this is the first I am hearing of this. I am not in the habit of sleeping through meetings and this has come as a big shock to me. All of a sudden there are 36 houses on a list. Why was this not outlined to the public representatives?' she asked.
Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

Airport gets go-ahead for solar farm to power reservoir

Dublin Airport has secured planning permission to build a small solar farm that will help power a large reservoir that delivers 500 million litres of water to the airport every year.
The DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, said that the solar arrays will provide as much as 50pc of the reservoir's power needs. The array will stretch over 650 sq m, according to planners.
It will be connected directly to the pumping station adjoining the covered reservoir, allowing the electricity it generates to be connected to the airport's internal power network.
"However, it is intended that the electricity generated by the proposed development will contribute to the energy requirements of the reservoir, which provides 500,000 m3 of water per annum to the Dublin Airport campus," according to DAA planners.

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

€90m Cork docklands plan gets green light

DEVELOPMENT of Cork's vast docklands is set to be kick-started by a €90m office block aimed at resolving a chronic shortage of commercial space in the city centre. The Navigation Square complex, which is comprises four separate blocks on a 2.25 acre site in the heart of Cork city centre, will provide accommodation for up to 3,000 employees and more than 310,000sq ft of office space. It ranks as the largest development of its type ever undertaken outside Dublin. Yesterday, An Bord Pleanála (ABP) confirmed the withdrawal of all remaining planning appeals to the development. The project was granted planning permission by Cork City Council last September but a number of planning objections were lodged. The withdrawal of all appeals now means that construction work will begin immediately.

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

Niall Quinn's 72-bedroom extension to hotel falls foul of elderly Christian brothers

Plans by former soccer international Niall Quinn to build a 72-bedroom extension to his Kildare hotel have fallen foul of an elderly group of Christian Brothers. This follows the congregation of five Christian Brothers, aged 69 to 88, claiming that the plan by Marchford Ltd for Lawlor's Hotel in Naas will disturb its tranquil life in the adjoining St Patrick's Monastery. In August 2014, Quinn joined up with Kilcullen Bakery to buy Lawlor's Hotel from examinership by making available €2.24m to fund a financial recovery for the hotel firm, Marchford Ltd.

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

Gerry Gannon Seeks Planning Permission For 209-Bedroom Clongriffin Hotel

Planning permission is being sought for a 209-bedroom hotel at Clongriffin, Dublin 13 , by developer Gerry Gannon.
The application, filed by Gannon Properties, will see the development of a seven-storey hotel with a fitness centre, function rooms and other services, located close to a planned Dart station, reports the Irish Independent. The hotel development will also comprise of 20 apartments "for short-term letting for holiday and business use".
There has been an increase in planning applications close to where the proposed Gannon hotel development is over the past year, with CG Hotels receiving planning permission for two expansion projects adjacent to its Radisson Blu hotel at Dublin airport, which will cost in the region of €60 million, as well as a new hotel adjacent to it. The construction of a new terminal-linked four-star, 11-storey hotel, is also being planned for Dublin Airport's Terminal 2.

Carrick-on-Suir solar energy farm granted planning permission

Tipperary Co. Council has granted planning permission for a solar energy farm to be developed near Carrick-on-Suir town. 
Kerry based Solar Sense SPV 1 Ltd was been approved conditional permission to construct 36,500 square metres of solar panels on ground mounted frames on a site in the townlands of Ballynagrana and Deeparklodge, Carrick-on-Suir. 
However Solar Sense will have to wait until March to find out whether full planning permission has been granted to the renewable energy project. 
The Council's grant of permission can be appealed to An Bord Pleanala up to four weeks after the conditional grant of permission was made, which was last Wednesday, February 8.
Read the full article @ The Nationalist

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the “Act”) has been introduced to deal primarily with the current housing supply shortage and to tackle issues in the rental sector. We examine the key provisions of the Act. 

The main provisions of the Act are:

1.     the introduction of a fast-track planning process for developments consisting of 100 or more houses and for student accommodation of 200 or more bed spaces;

2.     the potential for a second extension of already extended planning permissions for developments comprising 20 or more houses;

3.     the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones (“RPZs”) and rent caps;

4.     the extension of Part 4 tenancies from four years to six years;

5.     the restriction on landlords terminating tenancies of 10 or more units within the same development within a specified six month period where they intend to sell the properties; and

6.     the repeal of the right of landlords to terminate a ‘further’ Part 4 tenancy within the first six months on no stated grounds.

The Act introduces a fast-track planning process for large strategic housing developments. A ‘strategic housing development’ includes the development of 100 or more houses and the development of student accommodation units containing 200 or more bed spaces. An application for the alteration of an existing planning permission where the alteration relates to these types of developments would also qualify for the fast-track planning process. Once the relevant provisions of the Act have commenced, applications for these developments are to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála. For developments located in strategic development zones, applicants may instead choose to make the application to the planning authority.

Rental sector

While developers welcome the Government’s steps to fast track the planning system, it will take cooperation by a number of parties, most notably the local authorities and An Bord Pleanála, to ensure that efficient procedures are implemented to complement the provisions in the Act. 

Work can proceed on €150m Clerys scheme after Siptu withdraws appeal

Trade union Siptu has dropped its opposition to the controversial redevelopment of the iconic Clerys department store after striking a deal for former workers who lost their jobs when the business closed without warning. The country's biggest trade union has withdrawn its appeal against a grant of planning permission awarded last December, paving the way for work on the €150m redevelopment to get under way.

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

Irish Rail in court challenge over bridges of Clare County

Iarnród Éireann has brought a legal challenge to Clare County Council over its decision to include 19 rail bridges on a list of protected structures. The railway operator has said the decision may mean it will have to seek planning permission for works on county bridges on the Limerick-Ennis line. This could ultimately mean the closure of the entire line for a time, Stephen Dodd BL, for Iarnród Éireann, told the High Court. Mr Justice Seamus Noonan gave Mr Dodd leave to seek judicial review of the council’s recent decision to add the 19 bridges to the list. The leave application was made on an ex parte, one-side-only represented, basis.
Read the full article @ The Irish Times

Solar power developer sues over Wexford refusal

A High Court challenge has been brought over An Bord Pleanála’s refusal of permission for a solar power generating facility in Co Wexford. Highfield Solar Limited is suing over the board’s decision last month refusing permission for construction of a photovoltaic energy development on a 90-hectare site near Killinick.

The proposed Grahormick Solar Farm contains a single storey electrical substation building, an electrical building, solar PV panels mounted on steel supports, 6km of new roads, and 13km of electric cabling.
If constructed, the solar panels would be assembled in rows over the property.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

Irish Times Planning Clinic - Replacing a shared property boundary

Six months ago my neighbour applied for and was granted planning permission to develop a large complex that abuts my property. As I was sick at this time, I did not pay any attention as I had a lot to contend with. The other day I looked at the plans and I noticed that they sought to replace our mutual boundary hedge (full of beautiful old mature trees – oak, ash, beech, etc) with a 2.4m high concrete block wall. They did not consult with me in any way prior to their application. The planning permission states that “the development shall take place with the plans submitted”. Does this mean that they must now remove our mutual boundary hedge? Can they do this despite the fact that I was not consulted on the matter?
You describe the hedge as a “mutual boundary hedge”. This means that it is a party boundary and that you have joint ownership. Therefore your property (legal) boundary runs through the centre of the trunks/stems of the hedge. One party cannot substantially interfere with or remove a party wall, hedge or fence without the consent of the adjoining owner.
Read the full article @ The Irish Times

Friday, 20 January 2017

The first distillery in 175 years has been cleared for construction in Donegal

PLANNING PERMISSION HAS been granted to Sliabh Liag Distillery to build the first distillery in Donegal for 175 years.
Earlier this month An Bord Pleanála approved the application for the development, which will be built in the picturesque mountains near Carrick and include a visitor centre. Building on the main distillery is expected to start at the end of 2017, according to James Doherty, Sliabh Liag Distillery’s chief executive.

'Use it or lose it' clause needed to deliver homes

The figures from the Department of Housing suggest it's time for a 'use it or lose it' clause to be included when planning permission is granted. It beggars belief that in the midst of a national housing crisis, which is particularly acute in the capital, that so few homes are being delivered. In the first 10 months of last year, just under 11,800 homes were built nationally. This figure is unlikely to exceed 15,000 when the final tallies are complete, at a time when a minimum of 25,000 are needed. But while some developers have suggested the planning system is to blame for the lack of new homes coming onto the market, the official Government figures from the Department of Housing suggest there are more profound problems. There is no planning reason why 23,746 units across 331 sites in the capital are not being built to help address rising prices, inflating rents and bringing the homeless crisis to an end. Sources suggest a lack of finance and the imposition of development levies and high building costs, particularly the imposition of VAT on new homes, is hampering delivery. This is a problem particularly prevalent in construction of apartments.

Opposition to proposed Castleknock Lidl mounts

Leo Varadkar ‘disappointed’ by granting of approval for supermarket in the Dublin suburb of Castleknock. The planning permission for the proposed Lidl supermarket also includes approval for a medical centre and a number of other shops. Opposition appears to be mounting in Castleknock to this proposal.

Unite union sought social housing exemption for former Dublin HQ

A trust connected to the trade union Unite applied to be exempted from social housing for a development at its former headquarters on Merrion Square in Dublin while one of its top officials was planning the occupation of Apollo House in the city centre last month.
Unite's application for a Social Housing Exemption Cert was granted by Dublin City Council on 16 December, the day after its official Brendan Ogle gained access to Apollo House to begin a four-week occupation by homeless people and volunteers.
A group called Hands Off The Homeless, which held a demonstration outside the building, have reacted angrily to news it was lying empty during the occupation of Apollo House.

RTE News

Why Aren’t the Council’s Own Sites on Its Vacant Sites Register?

Dublin City Council officials have known since 2015 that they would have to put together a vacant sites register by 1 January 2017.
So when that register appeared online that day, and it was entirely blank, some were dismayed.
“It seems to me they could have started this whole process in the middle of last year,” said Green Party Councillor Ciaran Cuffe.
“We knew this legislation was passed by the Dáil over a year ago, so they could have worked on it before now.”

What about the Council’s Land?

Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, each local authority is required to establish and maintain a register of sites that were, in the local authority’s opinion, vacant for the preceding year.
The measure is aimed at tackling vacancy by listing the owners of vacant sites, and serving them with an annual levy of 3 percent of the market value of the site.
That includes council land, but Dublin City Council didn’t include its own vacant properties on the vacant site register it published earlier this month. It’s unclear why.
The minimum size requirement for a site to be placed on the register is 0.05 hectares. Of 112 sites owned by Dublin City Council in the city, 85 are this size or larger, according to a list given to People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh.
Cuffe said that information on the council’s own vacant properties would be clearly available. “I gave [Dublin City Council Chief Executive] Owen Keegan a list of city-council owned properties over a year ago,” he says.
“We should have taken our own sites and included them on the register at this stage, but there may be a reluctance to do that from senior management,” he said.
Dublin City Council’s press office has yet to respond to queries relating to the listing of its own properties on the register, why they didn’t list them, and what prevented them starting the whole process earlier.
When asked after Monday’s monthly council meeting at City Hall, Assistant Chief Executive Declan Wallace didn’t give a direct answer as to why the council’s sites hadn’t been loaded up onto the vacant site register yet.
The council is “a big organisation”, said Wallace. “Different pieces of land are internally owned by housing, by development, by parks, by a whole range of interests.”
They will be loaded up, he said.

Looking Bad

Cuffe says there are plenty of vacant sites the council could have inspected and determined the owners of prior to publishing their register.
“I think it’s an own goal, not just by Dublin City Council, but by all four local authorities,” he says. “I mean you couldn’t make this up.”
It could have at least more details explaining the complexities of the process, said Cuffe.
Cuffe wrote to Chief Executive Owen Keegan about the vacant vacant sites register. It takes time to determine which sites to place on the register, Keegan replied, in an email to Cuffe.
“It is also a requirement of the Act that for a site to be entered on the Register the Council must be satisfied that it has been vacant for the preceding 12 months,” he wrote. “Details of ownership, title to the site and the market value pertaining to the site must also be ascertained.”
Information on the ownership of a site and its market value, wrote Keegan, “is not always readily available and it can be time consuming and labour intensive to get the required information”.
So, the problem could be a resource issue within the council, said Cuffe – a suspicion shared by Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.
“Part of the problem for local-authority staff, given the amount of cutbacks over the last number of years, is that they do what they have to do today and their isn’t sufficient time to do what you can put off until tomorrow,” says Lacey.
That’s an issue that has come up in relation to the slow progress on social housing projects, too.
Lacey says Dublin City Council no longer has the number of planning and architectural staff it once had. Because of this, he’s willing to be patient with the filling in of the vacant sites register.
“I would be prepared to give the council the month of January to produce the register,” he says. “I got the impression that there was a sense that we want to be really careful about this because if a site goes on public display that is not owned by the person they say it’s owned by, or if it’s under the size, or if there’s an active planning permission being pursued on it, it could discredit the whole process in the early stages.”
But it will likely take longer than the rest of January to fill in the register.
In reply to the Green Party’s Cuffe, Keegan wrote that the council intends to write to the owners of 60 properties in the inner city by mid-January, “giving them the required notice of our intention to place their properties on the Register”.
Owners then have 28 days to appeal the council’s decision to place their property on the register to An Bord Pleanála.

Resources and Outreach

As Cuffe sees it, there are two takeaway lessons from publishing the blank register. Sufficient resources need to be put in place to tackle vacant sites, and the council management has to communicate better with councillors and the public, he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McAuliffe says that tackling derelict sites is also part of that. The public want to see progress, he said.
In his letter to Cuffe, Keegan said council management are “reviewing out [our?] very conservative approach” in determining whether a building or site is derelict – something he’s been saying for a while.
At Monday’s council meeting, Labour Councillor Mary Freehill said that councillors were told some time ago how much vacant land there was in the city, and that she wanted regular updates on the progress of the register and levy.
“I’m earnestly asking you that you make all the resources available,” she said. “This is absolutely essential to supply.”
Says Cuffe: “I find it frustrating and I think we need to up our game in terms of communication as a council, and incidents like this don’t help.”

Dublin Inquirer

News Florentine Centre gets planning Go-Ahead

Planning permission has been granted to Wicklow County Council by An Bord Pleanala for a 13000m2 retail and cinema development at the heart of Bray’s Main Street.  The development is estimated to cost €24M.
The Cathaoirleach Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Fitzgerald,  welcomed the decision and looked forward to the realisation of this scheme which has been foremost on the agenda of local councillors for 20 years and which will have a hugely beneficial  impact on Bray as a town.
The Cathaoirleach of Bray Municipal District, Cllr Steven Matthews, expressed his satisfaction with the decision saying:  We could not have picked a better time to come to the market with this project”.
 This site has been the subject of three previous  planning applications by Ballymore Properties. After a number of false starts, the site reverted to use as a car park five years ago. Bray Town Council acquired the site in late 2013 and the Wicklow County Council appointed team, led by Des O’Brien, Bray Municipal District Manager, has brought it to the planning stage and is now in the process of engaging  with potential development partners.
The development will be built around a new pedestrianised street which will open up from the Main Street and end in a public space.  The new street will comprise of two anchor stores of 3,000 and 1,000 square metres respectively, 8 retail units totalling 3,449 square metres and  3 restaurants totalling 545 square metres,  a 5 screen multiplex cinema and undercroft parking.
The final design configuration will be determined by the retail mix and the requirements of the occupiers. The principal aim of the scheme is to complement the existing retail offering and to reinvigorate the shopping experience in Bray. The presence of the cinema and restaurants will add vibrancy to the town’s evening economy, which is of significance to Bray as a Purple Flag town.
Wicklow County Council, Chief Executive, Mr Bryan Doyle, added: “ This will reinforce the role of the Town Centre as the key meeting and shopping place for the citizens of Bray, now that we have the green light we hope that we will see the new development open in  2019”.

Lidl overcomes opposition to win new store go-ahead

German discount retail giant Lidl has overcome opposition from independent retailers' body RGDATA to secure planning for a new store at Greystones in Co Wicklow.
This follows An Bord Pleanála granting Lidl the go-ahead for the store in spite of opposition from RGDATA, local school Temple Caraig and Councillor Derek Mitchell (FG).
The decision by An Bord Pleanála followed Lidl opening its 150th store here last month with new stores at Glenageary in Dublin and Virginia in Co Cavan.

Irish Independent

Judicial challenge to Dún Laoghaire Harbour plan

THE Save Our Seafront group was granted leave by the High Court last week to challenge a decision by An Bord Pleanála to approve cruise ship docking in Dún Laoghaire Harbour.
Mr Justice Max Barrett granted the group leave to judicially review the board’s decision on a number of grounds and adjourned the matter until January 31.
Last year planning permission was granted for the controversial multi-million plan to develop the harbour.
The new cruise berth is aiming to attract super cruise liners, which are restricted from docking in or near the capital due to a lack of capacity.
After several delays An Bord Pleanála eventually gave the €18 million cruise berth project the green light with several extensive conditions.
But Save our Seafront claimed that while last November’s decision by An Bord Pleanála restricted the size of ships accessing the harbour, it could still result in a significant loss of amenity to existing harbour users.
The chairman of Save Our Seafront, local TD Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP), claimed that the board’s decision did not properly take into account the environmental implications of dredging and other aspects of the plan.
 “We applied for a judicial review in order to protect Dún Laoghaire Harbour for the people and the natural environment,” Deputy Boyd Barret stated.
“A giant cruise berth in Dún Laoghaire Harbour would negatively impact on all users of the harbour - walkers, boat users and the varied wildlife.
“Our harbour is a wonderfully historic and cultural asset and should be developed to enhance all aspects of our harbour rather than limiting it to giant cruise ships.”
Senator Victory Boyhan, a former Dún Laoghaire Rathdown county councillor, strongly argued against granting planning permission for a super-size cruise ship terminal in the harbour.
He stated: “It was the (An Bord Pleanana’s) inspector’s opinion that the sensitivity of the harbour having regard to its architectural heritage, social importance, recreational value and its proximity to designated sites of European importance were not taken into sufficient consideration.”
A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanála said they did not comment on cases that are the subject of a judicial review.
“In fact, the board has a firm practice of avoiding comment on cases that it has decided,” the spokesperson said. “This is to do with the quasi-judicial nature of the work.”

Dublin People