Zoe reapplies for massive scheme in Ringsend area
THE ZOE Developments building company is about to reapply for its massive Ringsend scheme in Dublin 4 which will see the site of the old Victorian gasometer play host to the largest residential schemes in the city centre outside the docks.
Zoe's new ambitious plans for high rise apartments off Barrow Street and South Lotts in Ringsend has been slightly reduced to just 640 apartments, as opposed to 655 previously, and the plan still includes offices, shops and a hotel, but it is likely the densities here are also reduced.
The previous multimillion pound scheme proposed by Zoe, although curtailed, was passed by Dublin Corporation which required that the developer to provide social affordable housing equivalent to 15pc of the residential units to comply with the Grand Canal Docks Rejuvenation Area Plan.
However, this was rejected by An Bord Pleanála following an oral hearing which heard objectors describe the plan as too high and that it could cause pollution. Zoe Developments built by far the greatest number of inner city apartments over the last ten years constructing up to 5,000 units over the decade. Recently the company also agreed to pay up to £14m to acquire Loreto Abbey, a former convent and boarding school in Rathfarnham. These buildings are likely to be converted into apartments, while seven acres to the rear wil be used for housing.
The latest planning application for Barrow Street, to be located close to the proposed new Barrow Street DART station, under construction, still incorporates the frame of the Alliance gasholder, a listed structure, and also includes the removal of moderately contaminated sold at the former storage site.
This aspect of the development caused some concern among local residents who not only objected to the heights of the buildings, but also to the cancer-causing gases and chemicals from years of fuel storage posing potential risk.
Growth boost for East Cork
THE FUTURE of East Cork as a growth centre was underlined by the planning application lodged for over 600 houses at Broomfield, Midleton by McInerney Construction. The move brings the number of new homes planned for East Cork to 2,000 with over 1,000 planned near Cobh and another 500 in Youghal
The Broomfield scheme will be a site of 70 acres purchased from local farmer Pat FitzGerald for an unconfirmed £7m, or £100,000 per acre.
There will be eight different house types, and prices will range from mid-£90,000s for apartments to about £175,000 for four-bed detached homes. Irish and European are the agents, and the scheme also includes sports tennis courts, soccer pitches and all weather play areas.
The move is likely to prove a catalyst for the reopening of the town old railway station which was closed about 20 years. The current population of Midleton is around 7,000 and this is expected to rise to over 10,000 in the next three years. Consequently, over 1,000 new homes are in the pipeline with rezoning provision for another 1,000 homes.
The move follows a new development of over 1,000 new homes in Ballynoe area of Cobh which is already on a rail line. Iarnród Éireann is now considering opening the station at Ballynoe, particularly since another 385-house plan has been lodged for a site east of Carrigtwohill.
Meanwhile, 500 units are coming on stream in Youghal which is witnessing a huge surge in residential accommodation building.
The renewal of the Midleton and Carrigtwohill line and stations is part of the Cork Land Use and Transportation Study update and has the backing of the city and county councils.
Wage rises a threat to brick
By CON POWER
BRICK could be in danger of being designed out of the construction picture as a result of a doubling of wage rates in the bricklaying sector over the past two years.
A leading building expert argues that bricklaying is no longer a controllable element in the construction process.
The legal wrangle between the bricklayers' union BATU and Michael MacNamara & Co has catapulted the troubled industrial relations scene in this sector into the national headlines. ``Contractors have been disappointed with the results of direct employment of bricklayers,'' Jerome Casey, editor of the Building Industry Bulletin, comments. ``Costs have soared, productivity has fallen and disimproving industrial relations have put project completion times at risk.''
The bulletin quotes Michael Webb of PKS quantity surveyors who reports an ``undoubted'' move away from brick during the past twelve months. Although rate-for-rate brick and block is still cheaper than dry systems, when one adds in speed of erection and the risk of disruption, he says it is no longer first choice.
In the housing area, which accounts for more than two-thirds of brick usage, economist Mr Casey says urban planning authorities should perhaps be reminded that quality housing facades and streetscapes can be achieved by using materials other than brick.
Cost containment in bricklaying can only be achieved by demand reduction, according to the economist. Environment Minister Noel Dempsey has already noted that the building industry was running close to capacity and tender prices are rising fast.
He warned that the Government would not allow major increases in infrastructural investment under the National Plan to be ``simply frittered away in increased prices''.
Bord Gais manual
DOMESTIC home builders were yesterday presented with a new Bord Gais guideline manual detailing the best practice standards for the installation of natural gas in the home.
Guidelines for builders clearly outline the technical requirements for laying mains and service lines and positioning meters in homes. It is the first in a new series of Bord Gais technical handbooks and at its launch Francis Rhatigan, chairman of the Irish Home Builders' Association, said the manual will formalise existing guidelines and is an essential reference point.