'Remove objection or we will sell development to social housing'
A construction company, owned by Celtic Tiger developer Bernard McNamara, said it would sell a new development to a social housing association if a resident did not withdraw a planning objection.
Development firm Roxtip warned at least one local resident that they would send a letter to their neighbours alerting them to the "consequences" of their decision to lodge a planning appeal against the development.
In the letter, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, Roxtip's contracts manager Eamonn Hassett wrote to the resident telling them the company would sign a deal with a housing association if they did not withdraw an appeal against the development the following day. He said the appeal would delay the project by four months.
Eamonn Hassett told the resident the company had received an "unsolicited offer" from a housing association to buy the entire 29-house development in Donabate, north County Dublin.
He said this would result in less traffic in the area and would be looked at favourably by An Bord Pleanala when it was making a decision on the project. He also said it would remove the need for show houses, sales and marketing costs associated with putting the development on the open market.
"To date, we have not discussed your appeal with any third party, but if the appeal is not withdrawn on Tuesday, we will feel obliged to circulate a letter on Tuesday evening advising residents in Beaverbrook and Cois Inbhir of the consequence of your appeal in pushing Roxtip to accept the housing association offer and sign contracts now," Mr Hassett wrote.
He said the company would "welcome the opportunity" to work with the resident and address the issues highlighted in their objection.
He signed off the letter by again telling the resident that if he did not hear from them he would send a circular to their neighbours telling them the development would be sold to a social housing association. Roxtip is the first residential development company set up by Bernard McNamara since the one-time billionaire builder went bust at the height of the property crash.
The developer went bankrupt in the UK in 2012, with debts of €1.2bn. He had moved to Britain in 2011 and emerged from that bankruptcy in 2014.
Dublin Fingal Labour TD Brendan Ryan said any move to "subvert or hinder" a person's right to lodge an objection to a planning decision is "totally out of order".
"If a developer is engaging in such activity, be it directly or indirectly, then this needs to stop. Residents are concerned about developers riding roughshod over their communities. The bad old days of developer-led planning cannot return and we need to root this out before it takes hold again," Mr Ryan said.
Questions from the Sunday Independent to Roxtip about the letter sent on behalf of the company went unanswered last week. When details of the letter were put to Mr Hassett, he said: "The first thing is they have withdrawn their appeal. I am not prepared to comment on this, to be honest with you."
He would not say if this was a typical strategy applied by the firm during the planning process.