Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ires Reit appeals to ABP over refusal at Sandyford

The proposed apartment development at Rockbrook, south County Dublin, has been refused permission
The proposed apartment development at Rockbrook, south County Dublin, has been refused permission
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The State's biggest private landlord, Ires Reit, has appealed Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's refusal of its application for the development of 467 apartments at Rockbrook in Sandyford to An Bord Pleanala.

In rejecting the application last March, planners at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown told Ires, which is backed by Canada's Capreit, that the proposed development would, among other things, have an overbearing impact and be "visually unacceptable".

Had the proposal from Ires Reit for three 14-storey blocks received the green light, it would have seen the Rockbrook scheme essentially completed.

In 2005, the project's original promoter, the developer John Fleming was granted permission for the development of 900 apartments. While some 400 of these have been delivered, the onset of the financial crisis in 2008 effectively stalled the project in its tracks.

In turning down the application of Ires Reit, planners at Dun Laoghaire said last March that its proposal for three 14-storey apartment blocks would detract from the visual dominance of the unfinished Sentinel Building, which also sits on the Rockbrook site. The Sentinel Building is owned separately by Galway-born developer brothers, Luke and Brian Comer. The Comer Group acquired the property for a knockdown price of €850,000 in 2012.

In a further outline of their reasons for refusing Ires Reit's application for its development at Rockbrook, planners at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown said: "The proposed development would set an undesirable precedent, seriously injure the amenities of property in the vicinity and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area."

The council also warned Ires Reit that any future planning application for the three-hectare site would need to address other "significant issues" related to landscaping, drainage, amenity and transport.

When Ires Reit applied for the planning permission last September, its chief executive, David Ehrlich, said he believed Housing Minister Simon Coveney's initiative to "rationalise planning regulations" had had a "positive effect" on the ability of the company to progress its plans for the project.

In its appeal to An Bord Pleanala, Ires Reit referred once more to the efforts of the Housing Minister to address the housing crisis, arguing that its plan for the Rockbrook site would help to fulfil government policy.

It has also argued that the project's proposed delivery of high-density development meets the conditions set down in the 2016-2022 Sandyford Urban Framework Plan.

Addressing Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council planners' contention that its plans would set an "undesirable precedent", Ires Reit said it was "not at all clear" how this could be the case. The company noted that the urban development plan for Sandyford encouraged the completion of the project because it would "consolidate the area by repairing edges and promote a coherent street pattern and skyline".

Ires Reit is heavily invested in the Irish property market, having spent upwards of €600m to acquire a portfolio of some 2,377 apartments here.

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