Tuesday 22 October 2019

Developers in fast-track bid for 5,000 new homes

Developer Michael Cotter is seeking approval for 934 additional new homes at Park Development’s Clay Farm scheme in Leopardstown, Dublin 18.
Developer Michael Cotter is seeking approval for 934 additional new homes at Park Development’s Clay Farm scheme in Leopardstown, Dublin 18.
Donal Buckley

Donal Buckley

Housing developers have been quick to respond to the new fast-track planning facility for housing schemes of more than 100 dwellings. As many as 17 proposals with up to 5,161 dwellings have been submitted to An Bord Pleanala since it opened its doors for the processing of Strategic Housing Development applications in early July.

Interestingly, about half of the units are apartments, with two of the projects providing 911 student flats. Only five of the applications are for Dublin projects, but these account for more than 2,800 of the homes.

Kildare commuter towns account for three projects, county Galway has two projects and there are one each in Clare, Wexford and Cork.

Among the better known developers to avail of the scheme are Michael O'Flynn, Michael Cotter of Park Developments, David Kennedy of Formation Group and Pat Crean of Marlet.

Developers can apply for fast track planning for Strategic Housing Developments (SHDs) if the projects comprise more than 100 residential units, or 200-plus student bed spaces, or are a mix of both.

Developers apply directly to An Bord Pleanála but must consult first with the local planning authority and then with An Bord Pleanála, which will decide as to whether the proposal would qualify for a formal application. Such applications are to be ruled on within 16 weeks, when a public consultation and submission by the local authority also takes place.

While the introduction of the fast-track planning scheme had been heavily anticipated by developers and the wider property industry since it was announced by former housing minister Simon Coveney as part of the Government's original Rebuilding Ireland plan last November, it was only finally signed into law on June 23 by his successor, Eoghan Murphy.

The first and largest of the SHD applications to date followed just 10 days later with Michael Cotters' plans for 934 new homes at Clay Farm in Leopardstown in Dublin 18. Should his company Viscount Securities' scheme be approved, it would deliver 363 houses and 571 apartments. However, while the planning process may be fast tracked, the delivery of the actual development won't necessarily be acclerated. Cotter is one of those seeking permission to build over a 10-year timeframe.

For more than 30 years, Cotter's companies have developed both housing estates and commercial properties in the surrounding area, including The Park in Cabinteely, The Gallops in Leopardstown and The Park retail park at Carrickmines.

Also in Dublin 18, receiver Pearse Farrell of Duff & Phelps is seeking an SHD for 482 apartments at Carmanhall Road in in Sandyford business district, a site which had been part of Cork developer John Fleming's empire.

It is close to the Sentinel Building which Galway-born developers the Comer Brothers bought but which has been derelict for almost 10 years. It is also close to a site where Ires Reit is currently awaiting a Bord Pleanala ruling on its appeal of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's refusal of 467 apartments.

Closer to the city centre, Cairn Homes, headed by Michael Stanley the Stanley family, has sought an SHD for 399 student accommodation bed spaces and a retail café at the Donnelly Centre on Cork Street.

Cairn already has a number of developments under way, including Marianella in up-market Rathgar. In South West Dublin developer Pat Doherty, best known for his Harcourt Developments company, and the Titanic Quarter Belfast, is planning 526 residential units comprising 459 houses and 67 apartments on a site at Fortunestown Lane and Garter Lane, Saggart. As reported in the Sunday Independent, the applicant company Greenacre Residential has the backing of Nama.

Meanwhile, University College Dublin has sought an SHD for 512 student units with 3,006 bed spaces at its Belfield campus in Dublin 4. That's an average of almost six beds in each unit. However, the seven-block project could take up to seven years to build.

So far only one SHD is proposed for Dublin's northside. Pat Crean's Marlet has sought an SHD for 536 units comprising 104 houses and 432 apartments, as well as a créche facility on a site east of St Paul's College, Sybil Hill Road, Raheny, Dublin 5.

Marlet, which is backed by major investment firm M&G ,is also seeking forward funding for a number of other multi-unit developments in Dublin.

In Kildare there are three SHD proposals with a combined 760 units.

Ballymount Properties Ltd, headed by David and Patrick Kennedy, is planning a 241-house project as well as a neighbourhood retail area, café and childcare facility on the 50 acre site of the former Magee Barracks at the Dublin Road on the northern side of Kildare Town.

David Kennedy was reported to have paid €8.2m for the site earlier this year. At one stage it was reported to have had a €2m guide price.

Kennedy is chief executive of London-based property company Formation Group, where former Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, is the chairman and former Fianna Fail Minister Batt O'Keeffe is also a director.

Nearer to Dublin, McCourt Investments Limited plans to develop 123 houses and a crèche at Kill Hill and Earls Court, Kill, Co. Kildare.

On the north west side of the county, Ardstone Homes proposes 394 homes and a childcare facility, in Barnhall, Leixlip.

Last year Ardstone Capital raised substantially more than €100m towards its plans to develop about 3,500 houses in the Dublin commuter belt as well as in Cork and Galway by 2021. Ardstone Capital is headed by Donal O'Neill and Donal Mulcahy and it has acquired several prime office and retail assets in Dublin, Britain, Spain and Germany. It has also sold on a number of its Dublin office investments.

Developer Michael O'Flynn is also seeking a 10-year permission for a project with 515 homes, a créche, retail unit, clinic and community centre, at Ballinglanna, Glanmire, a few miles east of Cork City and close to the M8, N25 and Jack Lynch Tunnel.

Two SHDs are being sought for Galway. Burkeway Homes Ltd plans 113 houses at Truskey East, in the coastal village of Bearna, about five miles west of Galway City centre.

To the north of the county, Arlum Limited plans 124 dwellings at Halfstraddle, Ballygaddy Road, Tuam.

Outside Wexford town, local developer William Neville and Sons plans 182 houses and 205 apartments at Carcur Park. The group also owns a number of hotels including the Royal Marine in Dun Laoghaire, a substantial tract of Cherrywood Strategic Development Zone, Dublin as well as properties in Britain.

In Ennis, Co. Clare, Abadair Investments plans 148 units at Ballymacaula, Circular Road.

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