Council Briefs: Far More Planning Permissions Than Homes Under Construction, and Time for a New City Retail Strategy

Paper Homes

At the end of last year, fewer than a quarter of the homes with planning permission in County Dublin were being built, suggest figures from the Dublin Housing Supply Coordination Taskforce.

Roughly 6,200 homes were under construction in the last quarter of 2021, out of around 28,500 homes with planning permission.

At Tuesday’s meeting of Dublin City Council’s planning committee, city planner John O’Hara gave a run down of the figures to councillors and committee members – and a few reasons why that might be.

It could be site-assembly issues, supply chain issues, a shortage of construction workers, or financing issues, he said. And, he said, “you’ll read in the press about sites getting planning permission and being flipped on”.

Fergus Sharpe, head of public affairs at the Dublin Chamber, asked how the new zoned land tax might change things.

O’Hara said that with Revenue in charge of it, there might be more fear and consistency. The council-enforced vacant site levy had so many hurdles and avenues for appeal, he said. “It was just … hardly worthwhile operating it.”

O’Hara said he thinks the council should stop so readily extending five-year planning permissions, when a developer hasn’t moved to build anything. “My own view, is it should be curtailed.”

His overall takeaway from the report’s data was that indicators were moving in the right direction as, compared to a year earlier, more homes had planning permission and more were under construction. “But that pace needs to be much higher to meet rising demand.”

Architect Jonathan McKenna, from Metropolitan Workshop, said there are lots in the pipeline but, particularly when it comes to the larger schemes, they’re not going to suddenly all come to fruition.

“They won’t want to flood the market,” he said. “It’s not going to come all on stream at once.”

The Future of Shopping

Dublin City Council and neighbouring areas need to come up with a fresh retail strategy, said deputy city planner Deirdre Scully at Tuesday’s planning committee meeting.

Councillors at the meeting agreed to write to the Department of Housing to ask for support to help them to do that.

The landscape has changed a lot since the last strategy was drawn up in 2008, she said, which was a response to the M50 outer ring of retail and what it meant for shops within the city.

There’s been the continued rise of online shopping, for one, she said.

A strategy would mean surveying Dubliners as to how and where they spend money, she said. “Looking for those trends and where those are going.”

Said Labour Councillor Declan Meenagh: “It’s out of the bag at this stage, I don’t think we’re going to bring it all back.”

But, he said, other organisations and groups struggling to find places, should then be able to move in to empty spaces in a long-term and affordable way.

Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland, a Labour councillor, said she can imagine a shift in the next decade towards people spending money on community and activities rather than consumption, given greater awareness of climate impacts.

“I’m wondering, how do we figure that into our retail strategy?” she said.

Author:

Lois Kapila: Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general assignment reporter. She covers housing and land, too. Want to share a comment or a tip? You can reach her at [email protected]

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