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Local authorities slash and ‘dezone’ land that could be used for 100,000 homes


The National Planning Framework plan was published in 2019

The National Planning Framework plan was published in 2019

The National Planning Framework plan was published in 2019

Local authorities around the greater Dublin area have slashed enough land to deliver more than 100,000 new homes from their housing delivery plans including dezoning significant areas of the commuter belt, according to research by Savills.

John Ring, director of research at Savills Ireland, said the 100,000 figure is based on an analysis of draft county development plans for the four Dublin local authorities plus Kildare, Wicklow and Meath. They compared land zoned under the current draft plans to previous county development plans.

Significant areas of land previously zoned for residential development have been ‘dezoned’, despite the growing need for new homes, because they don’t meet priorities for balanced regional development under the National Planning Framework (NPF), he said. 

That national policy framework, which was published in 2019, favours the building up of regional centres over Dublin-centric development, and local authorities must align their plans with the national strategy.

Under the NPF, population growth by 2040 should be equally split between greater Dublin and the rest of the country, with specific growth plans for each county.

Dublin city is set to grow by between 20pc and 25pc by 2040, while Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford are supposed to grow by 50pc over the same period

Zoning and dezoning is being calibrated to those aspirational projections, rather than to the reality of housing pressure which reflects factors such as the booming Dublin jobs market, said Mr Ring. 

“That plan is never going to work if the assumptions underpinning it are wrong, so we’re setting ourselves up to fail,” he said. 

“There is a logic to that – but in reality, the National Planning Framework’s aspiration for things like a 50:50 spilt of population growth between greater Dublin and the rest of the country isn’t what’s happening on the ground.” 

Meanwhile, lands are being dezoned by councils in response to the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR), the Government’s planning oversight body, which is telling councils to comply with the National Planning Framework, he said. 

“You have the Office of the Planning Regulator writing to councils telling them that they must dezone land earmarked for development that the councils believe are required to meet housing needs,” he said. 

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