Sunday 20 October 2019

Time costs money, says O'Flynn as new housing beset by planning delays


Michael O'Flynn Photo: INM
Michael O'Flynn Photo: INM
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Delays in the system of processing and deciding on planning applications are impeding the delivery of new homes and serving to drive up the prices of the scarce supply of housing currently on the market, according to developer Michael O'Flynn.

The issue was thrown into stark relief last week with the decision by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to grant permission to O'Flynn's company, O'Flynn Capital Partners, for the development of 240 new homes at Beech Park in Cabinteely, south county Dublin.

While O'Flynn expressed his happiness with the decision, he told the Sunday Independent it was a pity that so much time and money had been lost in the effort to secure it. He said: "I'm delighted that the council have made this decision, and I very much welcome it. Unfortunately, time costs money, and it's a pity that we have lost so much time here. We already have people interested in the housing, as well as industries in the area who are interested in renting the accommodation."

All told, the planning process and the requirement for O'Flynn to take a High Court action against the council have taken nearly three years to conclude. Having spent a year preparing a plan for the site, O'Flynn Capital Partners (OFCP) lodged its planning application in May 2016. When Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council refused permission for the development two months later, O'Flynn sought a judicial review of its decision.

But while the developer issued proceedings in September 2016, it took until May of this year for the case to come before the courts, and a further three months before Mr Justice Robert Haughton delivered a ruling.

Finding in favour of OFCP, he found that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council had misapplied the terms of its own planning scheme for the Cherrywood area when it refused the company permission to build 164 houses on the Beech Park site. The site falls within the Cherrywood strategic development zone (SDZ). Designation as an SDZ is intended to speed up the provision of amenities and to streamline applications for development.

Judge Haughton was highly-critical of the council, saying that it had "misconstrued and misapplied" the terms of its own planning scheme, and that it had either had an "improper motive" for doing this, or had taken "irrelevant matters" into consideration. He ruled that OFCP should be allowed to submit a fresh application for the project. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council approved OFCP's new application last week.

While the Sunday Independent asked the council to comment on its handling of the O'Flynn application, no response was forthcoming at the time of going to press.

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