Cot­ter in ‘fast track’ bid to build 934 homes in Dublin

Irish Independent - Business Week - - COMMERCIAL PROPERTY - Ron­ald Quin­lan info@paulm­c­ info@paulm­c­

DE­VEL­OPER Michael Cot­ter has be­come the first house builder to avail of the Gov­ern­ment’s heav­ily-an­tic­i­pated in­tro­duc­tion of a tem­po­rary ‘fast-track’ plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion sys­tem for large -scale hous­ing schemes.

Viscount Se­cu­ri­ties, a com­pany owned and con­trolled by Mr Cot­ter and his fam­ily, has sub­mit­ted a pre-ap­pli­ca­tion pro­posal to An Bord Pleanala for a to­tal of 934 new homes at Clay Farm in Leop­ard­stown in south county Dublin.

Should it be ap­proved, the scheme would see the de­liv­ery of 363 houses and 571 apart­ments on the site which is be­ing de­vel­oped by Mr Cot­ter’s Park De­vel­op­ments.

While the in­tro­duc­tion of the fast-track plan­ning sys­tem was first an­nounced last Novem­ber by the then hous­ing min­is­ter, Si­mon Coveney, as part of the ‘Re­build­ing Ire­land’pro­gramme, it was only re­cently signed into law by his suc­ces­sor, Eoghan Mur­phy.

Mr Cot­ter’s de­ci­sion to wait for the new leg­is­la­tion rather than sub­mit a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for Clay Farm to Dun Laoghaire Rath­down County Coun­cil would ap­pear to be an as­tute move.

With or­di­nary plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions for large hous­ing de­vel­op­ments to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties typ­i­cally ap­pealed to An Bord Pleanala, ul­ti­mate ap­proval can, in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, take up to 18 months to se­cure.

The fast-track plan­ning reg­u­la­tion, signed into law by hous­ing min­is­ter Eoghan Mur­phy on June 23 last, will see the pe­riod for such de­ter­mi­na­tions re­duced to a max­i­mum of 6 months. Tak­ing that into ac­count, Mr Cot­ter can ex­pect a de­ci­sion on his com­pany’s pro­pos­als for Clay Farm by next Jan­uary at the very lat­est.

Un­der the terms of the scheme, de­vel­op­ers seek­ing per­mis­sion for strate­gic hous­ing de­vel­op­ments (SHDs) of 100 units or more are no longer re­quired to ap­ply to their re­spec­tive lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the first in­stance, but can in­stead ap­ply di­rectly to An Bord Pleanala.

The new fast-track plan­ning reg­u­la­tion came into ef­fect for­mally on July 3 last and will ap­ply ini­tially un­til De­cem­ber 2019.

De­pend­ing on its suc­cess, the scheme will then be sub­ject to re­view with the pos­si­bil­ity that it could be ex­tended un­til De­cem­ber 2021 (the end date of the Re­build­ing Ire­land pro­gramme).

Out­side of plans for the pro­vi­sion of new homes, UCD has sub­mit­ted its own pre-ap­pli­ca­tion pro­posal to An Bord Pleanala, seek­ing a 10-year plan­ning per­mis­sion for 512 stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion units, with the ca­pac­ity for 3,006 bed spa­ces.

The pro­posed de­vel­op­ment of seven apart­ment blocks in­cludes the pro­vi­sion of a stu­dent fa­cil­ity cen­tre and 994 car park­ing spa­ces. UCD lodged its pre-ap­pli­ca­tion with An Bord Pleanala on July 3 last – the date on which the fast-track plan­ning sys­tem came into ef­fect.

Hous­ing min­is­ter Eoghan Mur­phy has also brought re­vi­sions on the Part 8 process for lo­cal au­thor­ity own de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als (i.e. so­cial hous­ing, and in­fra­struc­ture ser­vic­ing both public and pri­vate de­vel­op­ments, li­braries, fire sta­tions, swim­ming pools etc.) into op­er­a­tion.

The re­vi­sions set a max­i­mum time­frame of 20 weeks for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to make de­ter­mi­na­tions of such de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als.

THE new ‘ fast­track’ plan­ning reg­u­la­tions for schemes of 100 or more res­i­den­tial units and 200 or more stu­dent bed spa­ces be­came law at the start of this month and they are a pos­i­tive move to speed up the plan­ning process. Ac­cel­er­at­ing plan­ning is one of the pil­lars of the ‘ Re­build­ing Ire­land’ strat­egy launched last year. The new reg­u­la­tions are com­plex and present big changes and de­vel­op­ers and their ad­vi­sors will have to come to terms with them quickly in or­der to take full ad­van­tage. I dis­cussed the new sys­tem with John Downey, Char­tered Town Plan­ner.

This is a re-work­ing of a plan­ning sys­tem that doesn’t work, where a third-party ob­jec­tion can de­lay the ap­pli­ca­tion process by be­tween 18 and 33 weeks, bring­ing the to­tal process to over 70 weeks. The big change is that the ap­peal to An Bord Pleanala (ABP) has been moved to the start of the process, rather than at the end, fol­low­ing an ob­jec­tion or re­fusal. This in­creases the work­load on de­vel­op­ers and their pro­fes­sion­als in pro­duc­ing in­for­ma­tion for the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The new process is in three stages: Stage One is con­sul­ta­tion with the lo­cal au­thor­ity and this is re­stricted to a max­i­mum of four weeks. If the lo­cal au­thor­ity can­not ar­range the pre-plan­ning meet­ing in time, the ap­pli­cant can move di­rectly to Stage Two.

Stage Two is con­sul­ta­tion with ABP, lim­ited to seven to nine weeks. ABP ad­ju­di­cate whether or not the ap­pli­ca­tion is valid and can qual­ify for Stage Three. ABP must de­cide if the ap­pli­ca­tion com­plies with the Sec­tion 28 Na­tional Plan­ning Guide­lines, cov­er­ing is­sues like de­sign stan­dards for apart­ments, roads and es­tate lay­out. Im­por­tantly, at this stage, ABP is not com­ment­ing on the de­tails of the ap­pli­ca­tion - it is merely de­cid­ing if you qual­ify for Stage Three.

At Stage Three, ABP con­sid­ers re­ports from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and ob­jec­tions and must grant or refuse per­mis­sion within 16 weeks. ABP can­not re­quest ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion at this point.

Sig­nif­i­cant changes in­clude that an ap­pli­cant can pro­pose an ap­pli­ca­tion (at Stage One) that does not com­ply with the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plan (e.g. on den­sity) but which meets na­tional plan­ning guide­lines. John Downey also pointed out that Stage Two re­quires the ap­pli­cant to con­sult with all statu­tory bod­ies (which used to be the lo­cal au­thor­ity’s job) - and the public be­fore lodg­ing.

John Downey agrees that the new reg­u­la­tions are a pos­i­tive move and sug­gests that ‘ tweak­ing’ and bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and ABP will be needed to un­der­pin the suc­cess of the scheme.

Lessons From The Mal­dives

I spent last week in the Mal­dives where I spoke at a con­fer­ence aimed at boost­ing the very suc­cess­ful tourism in­dus­try.

The Mal­dives is an ex­tra­or­di­nary coun­try - the small­est in Asia, and with less than one per­cent of its ter­ri­tory com­pris­ing land­mass, spread over ap­prox­i­mately 1,000 is­lands. It is stun­ningly beau­ti­ful, with white sandy beaches, crys­tal­clear turquoise seas and beau­ti­ful weather.

Tourism is the main in­dus­try, with 1.3 mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally, whilst the coun­try has a pop­u­la­tion of just 400,000 or so. I was struck by the gen­eral pro­gres­sive at­ti­tude, an abil­ity to

Michael Cot­ter’s Viscount Se­cu­ri­ties have sub­mit­ted plans to build 934 homes in Leop­ard­stown

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