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