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Planners reject housing project despite shortage

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An artist's impression of the proposed Iona Quarter in Glasnevin in Dublin

An artist's impression of the proposed Iona Quarter in Glasnevin in Dublin

An artist's impression of the proposed Iona Quarter in Glasnevin in Dublin

A planning application for 147 homes and apartments built on a derelict site in Dublin has been rejected by the city council, even as the housing crisis in the capital worsens.

UK development firm Westhill Atlantic had hoped to build the residential development on the site of the former Smurfit packaging plant on Botanic Road in Glasnevin on the northside of the city.

The Westhill plan called for 147 houisng units including 66 two, three and four bed houses. Crucially, these were to be marketed as family homes at a time when the market is desperately seeking new supply.

By most estimates about 9,000 homes a year have to be built over the next five years just to keep up with demand. The vast majority of those are needed in and around Dublin.

As well as the houses, Westhill's plans were for 67 apartments and 14 duplexes, which the company said was in order to meet council regulations.

The €40m development would have created an estimated 500 construction jobs over the course of its creation.

The Iona Quarter as the development was to be called had met with local concerns, but the company had been engaging with local residents for some time.

A spokesman for Westhill said the planning decision was a "major dissappointment".

"Westhill Atlantic purchased the site at Botanic Road, Glasnevin last year and has been working with both the officers of Dublin City Council and with the local residents association to develop a residential led redevelopment of this former industrial site," he said.

"The proposed Iona Quarter is a mixed use development of predominantly new homes that seeks to provide a stunning contemporary landmark development within Glasnevin whilst being respectful to the immediate conservation area in which it is set.

The Planners have rejected the scheme which would have provided 147 new homes for Dublin. Westhill submitted a development proposal for 66 houses, 14 duplex units and 67 apartments, together with a small element of retail, commercial and potential community use space.

"The planning refusal is a major disappointment for all involved in the project and will delay the project by at least 12 months.

"However, Westhill remains committed to working with the Planning Authorities to produce a scheme that will be a valuable addition not just to the architecture of the area but to Dublin as a whole.

"In the short term, Westhill Atlantic is considering its options as to the next steps it might take," the spokesman added.

The decision is a blow to Westhill, which has assembled a portfolio of sites around Dublin as well as Meath and Louth.

The company tends to work with developers and provides financing for projects through individual investors and institutions.

The firm has completed several projects in the UK. It also has interests in Eastern Europe.

The decision is now likely to go to An Bord Pleanala for appeal. If the Iona Quarter had gone ahead it would have been one of the few major housing developments being carried out in central Dublin.

The likes of Gerry Gannon and Sean Mulryan are building homes but they are in the suburbs. Apart from a small apartment development in Percy Place, there is little development going on inside the canals in Dublin.

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