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Zoning For Affordable Homes

Dublin City Council cannot zone land for affordable homes because that clashes with national legislation, the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has said.

Last November, Social Democrats Councillor Stocker proposed that the council create a new land-use zoning, Z16, which would be a mixed-use zoning, with the majority of the residential development (80 percent) to be social and affordable.

As things stand, councillors are reluctant to rezone industrial land because the housing built there may not deliver for the residents’ needs, said Stocker. “If we rezone we have no control over the accessibility, affordability and suitability of the housing that will go on the site.”

A majority of councillors voted in favour of including Stocker’s new zoning in the draft of the new Dublin City Council City Development Plan, for 2022 to 2028, which is the council’s planning bible.

But last week, the OPR said in its submission to the city development plan that while it acknowledged the council’s concerns in relation to housing affordability it would “strongly question the rationale for the Z16 approach”.

Land-use zoning stipulates things like whether the land is suitable for employment use, residential use or recreational use, it says.

Affordable housing “constitutes residential land use and does not represent a distinct ‘use’ within a land use zone and should not be used as part of a zoning objective”, it says.

The OPR recommended that the council remove it from the new city development plan.

The mix of social and affordable housing in private residential developments is already set out in law, under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, it said.

That refers to the 10 percent of all large new developments that developers usually give to the council for social housing (or they sometimes give the homes elsewhere or provide land instead).

For land bought after 1 August 2021 (and planning permissions granted after July 2026) developers should provide 20 percent social and affordable homes.

Licensing Big Outdoor Events

Local councillors will get the heads up in the future if a big concert is set to happen in their area.

In January, independent Councillor Damien O’Farrell had asked what the process is for approving big events.

He asked because residents near Fairview Park and St Anne’s Park weren’t being consulted or informed about concerts set to take place there, O’Farrell said on the phone on Tuesday.

“People should have a right to know and not read about it in the papers,” he says.

At Monday’s meeting of the council’s North Central Area Committee, councillors got a briefing on licensing of concerts. In the future, area councillors will be told about any applications for licences, said a council report.

When a promoter or event organiser wants to hold an outdoor concert with more than 5,000 people, they need to apply for a licence, says the report.

Promoters must advertise that they’ve applied in a national and a local newspaper and create a draft event management plan, which should be on display at the council’s planning counter for five weeks, says the report. People can make observations and submissions for free.

Dublin City Council officials meet with the promoter together with statutory agencies including the Gardaí, Fire Brigade and HSE before they decide to give the concert the nod, says the report.

“I wonder why councillors are not involved in this process,” said Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney at the meeting.

There is a €2,500 licence fee for each event and Cooney wondered whether the money could be used to fund some free concerts. Perhaps by “up and coming bands”, she said.

Social Democrats Councillor Catherine Stocker wondered whether the council applies to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to be designated venues, which would ensure that all the concerts in its parks are covered by the new ticket-touting legislation.

(“When designated, reselling of tickets above the original sales price for that venue will be prohibited,” says the government website. )

“I think we would all agree that if we are running concerts in our parks we want them to be covered under that legislation,” said Stocker.

321 Rentals in Finglas

Councillors in the North West Area of the city were generally sceptical of plans put before them at a meeting last Tuesday, showing 321 build-to-rent homes on a plot in an industrial estate in Finglas.

In June last year, Dublin City Council rezoned a swathe of industrial estate at Jamestown Road, including this site, opening it up to be used for housing as well as for jobs.

At the time, some councillors said they were worried that without a coordinated plan for what could be built where on the 43ha of land, it would be a chaotic free-for-all.

In May 2021, even before the land was rezoned, Jamestown Village Ltd had applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission for 400 build-to-rent homes on the site. It’s downscaled that to 321 now.

At the council meeting on Tuesday 15 February, Siobhan O’Connor, a planner with Dublin City Council presented the updated plansto councillors.

The scheme is six storeys at the highest point, and made up of 111 one-bedroom apartments and 211 two-bedroom apartments, as well as a gym, a cafe, a creche, office space and 193 car parking spaces, said O’Connor.

The applicant seeks to contravene the city development plan’s rules around height, density, the mix of homes, and car parking, she said.

The proposed building is 21 m, while the city development plan allows just 16m in height at that spot. Taller buildings are allowed under national guidelines.

It is up to An Bord Pleanála to decide whether that should be allowed, said O’Connor.

Ahead of the June rezoning meeting, Dublin City Council officials said they would draw up a masterplan to ensure that the large site was developed in a coordinated way. Some site owners said they intended to develop an affordable housing project.

Dublin City Council hasn’t yet responded to queries about what stage the masterplan is at.

O’Connor said the council clearly outlined how they want the big site to be developed in a report, variation 33 of the old city development plan, prior to the rezoning.

Residential development should constitute a maximum of 70 percent of the entire development, but in the Jamestown Village Ltd proposal, 87 percent is residential, said O’Connor.

“We will certainly be going through that with a fine-tooth comb and comparing the details of that variation with this application,” O’Connor said.

The council will then make a submission to An Bord Pleanála and the board is due to make a decision on the plans in May, she said.

Most councillors said they would prefer it if the developer waited and submitted plans in line with the masterplan that the council is drawing up for the area.

“There is a plan for that whole site so someone going off doing their own thing just doesn’t sit well,” said independent Councillor Noeleen Reilly.

Reilly said that build-to-rent housing is a “bad move for the area” and that the housing model is contributing to anti-social behaviour.

Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan asked why there are no three- or four-bedroom homes included in the development.

Connaghan also asked whether the development has to take into account the Housing Need and Demand Assessment, a detailed look at what kind of housing is expected to be needed in the city in the next while.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Briege Mac Oscar said the six-storey buildings should be set back from the road “in consideration” of the one-storey houses on the other side of the Jamestown Road.

Mary Callaghan, Social Democrats councillor, said that that aspect of the design was “absolutely unacceptable”.

During the rezoning debate, the council promised that large buildings wouldn’t be built beside existing houses, she said. “We need to have respect for the one-storey houses.”

Several councillors raised the traffic problems in the area. Issues like traffic are supposed to be dealt with through the masterplan, they said.

“I hope it’s rejected,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly. “I think there are major concerns with this whole development.”

All the councillors’ comments will be put forward as part of the chief executive’s report to the board, said O’Connor.

Laoise Neylon

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at

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