Builders seek reversal of planning guidelines for bigger apartments

Builders and estate agents have piled pressure on Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to reverse new planning guidelines, hitting out against moves to increase the number of larger apartments in the south Dublin suburbs.

The objections centre on requirements for three-bedroom dwellings in 40 per cent of the units in big apartment blocks in “new communities” such as Cherrywood, the largest undeveloped land bank in the council area.

Similar rules for build-to-rent apartments have also met resistance, with builders saying institutional investment would be damaged at a crucial time.

In a sign of tension in the market as the council finalises its 2022-2028 development plan, one major developer wants exemptions from the 40 per cent requirement which is supposed to apply to schemes of more than 50 apartments.

Quintain, which plans thousands of Cherrywood homes, called for a moratorium for well-advanced projects and those sent to planners before councillors adopt the development plan in March.

‘Significant delay’

“Otherwise, a significant cost and time will be incurred to review and adjust the affected schemes to comply with the new plan requirements which will inevitably cause significant delay to the delivery of much-needed housing.”

In a submission published on the council’s website, the company insisted there was only “limited demand” for three-bed apartments and said it had already made a significant financial outlay advancing projects.

To back up its argument, Quintain sent in separate papers from estate agents Knight Frank and Savills Ireland.

Knight Frank said the 40 per cent requirement should not be adopted, adding that demand trends favoured smaller units: “Introducing this requirement may delay the delivery of schemes as projects are reassessed and at worst render some high-density developments unviable.”

Savills said market demand for homes of more than two bedrooms was “very much” focused on houses as opposed to apartments in suburban locations. “We have witnessed this trend growing further over the course of the last year as families are increasingly seeking to buy or rent residential units with private outdoor space (ie a garden),” it said.

‘Build to rent’

Cairn Homes, another builder, said the justification for setting a minimum percentage of three-bed dwellings in build-to-rent schemes was not supported by the council’s own market analysis.

“The build-to-rent model is critical in delivering the shortfall in housing. If new stock is not built, then prices and rents increase. The lack of supply will have a detrimental impact on the wider society through increased rental costs, urban sprawl, etc.”

Cairn also said some parking standards should be changed to “maximum figures” to encourage reduced parking provision and reliance on private cars, for climate reasons.

Glenveagh Properties said the requirement for “certain percentages of three-bed units within residential schemes, in this case 40 per cent, is not considered commercially viable” given current market trends.

Glenveagh has also objected to the council’s proposal on external storage requirements for apartments, saying it “would place an undue burden” on developments and appeared greater than Department of Housing requirements.

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