Green light for massive Docklands development will ease office crisis
Development of badly needed office and residential accommodation in Dublin city centre will accelerate in the coming years after a large-scale planning scheme for the Docklands was given the green light.
The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), Kennedy-Wilson and Oaktree are among site owners expected to benefit from a fast-track planning process approved by An Bord Pleanala yesterday.
Some 366,000 square metres of office space and 2,600 homes will be developed across 22 hectares of land in the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock under the Docklands Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme.
Two landmark buildings up to 22 storeys (88m) are allowed, but most development will be eight-storeys high.
SDZ status means that projects can be fast-tracked through planning, subject to criteria.
Dublin City Council said it was aware of a number of developers with a "keen interest" in the SDZ, and was awaiting the submission of applications.
NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh, below, said it was a "key milestone" in the development of the Docklands.
"An Bord Pleanala's timely decision means that the development of properties in the Docklands SDZ area under the control of NAMA receivers and debtors can now be accelerated over the coming years, to meet the emerging supply shortages in office and residential accommodation in the centre of Dublin," he said.
NAMA plans to invest €2bn in new projects over the coming years, and is a key landholder across the Docklands including sites previously controlled by Treasury Holdings, developer Harry Crosbie and the now-defunct Dublin Docklands Development Authority.
In its annual statement, it said its "likely focus" of attention would centre around the Docklands, with commercial office space needed to accommodate continued expansion of the financial services sector.
The LA-based investment manager, Oaktree Capital Management, is also a major landowner, and is working with NAMA in the South Docks.
The bad bank has also received 121 expressions of interest from companies keen to invest in joint venture projects.
US private equity firm Kennedy-Wilson also controls land in the area.
Property Industry Ireland (PII), part of IBEC, said the SDZ would fast-track high-quality accommodation in the city.
"The current shortage of large-scale office space in the heart of Dublin is already beginning to drive up rents and increase costs for businesses trying to locate in Dublin," PII director Dr Peter Stafford said. The Dublin Chamber of Commerce said approval would help address a commercial property crisis in the city.
THE Docklands SDZ (Strategic Development Zone) is effectively a masterplan covering the development of 22 hectares of land in the city centre.
It comprises 20 city blocks spread across two main development areas – the North Lotts (13ha) on the northside of the Liffey, with the remaining 9ha at Grand Canal Dock on the southside.
The area is divided into five hubs – Spencer Dock, Point Village, Grand Canal Dock, Britain Quay and Boland’s Mill.
Half of all development is earmarked for new homes, with some 2,600 units planned, sufficient for 5,800 people.
In apartment developments of 15 units or more, a minimum of 15pc must be for family-sized three-bedroom homes of at least 100 square metres. This is designed to encourage families to live in the city, and prevent further urban sprawl. Associated services including shops, cafes, health centres and creches will be provided.
In addition, there will also be as much as 366,000 square metres of office and commercial floorspace, giving capacity to employ 24,000 people. Most buildings will be eight storeys high, but there is scope in certain areas for taller properties in the range of 10-12 storeys (40-48m).
In addition, two new pedestrian and cycle bridges across the Liffey are planned from Forbes Street to New Wapping Street, and from Sir John Rogerson Quay to Castleforbes Street. Each will cost up to €7m each. There is also a public transport bridge planned across the Dodder, connecting York Quay and Britain Quay, which will cost some €15m.
The St Laurence O’Toole School will be rebuilt or upgraded to cope with future demand, and further schools may be provided as required. The SDZ was established by statutory instrument in December 2012, by Environment Minister Phil Hogan. Dublin City Council developed the scheme, which was submitted to An Bord Pleanala for approval.
In effect, it allows developers – including NAMA – to enjoy a fast-track planning process.
The public cannot make submissions on individual projects, which will be approved by the city council, assuming they comply with the scheme.