Council Briefs: Councillors Vote Again to Curtail Build-to-Rent Housing, and the Council Hands a Win to the Bookies

Councillors Continue with Push to Curtail Build to Rent

At a meeting on Tuesday, councillors voted through provisions in the next development plan that would restrict build-to-rent housing in the city.

In the last vote on that part of the plan before it is finalised, councillors backed banning build-to-rent schemes of fewer than 100 homes, and requiring that, in each new development, at least 60 percent of the homes should be built to the design standard used for build-to-sell homes .

Compared to other new-build rentals or homes for sale, build-to-rent apartments can be smaller, with less storage and no private outdoor space.

Dublin city councillors are in the final stages of the process of drawing up the new city development plan, which lays out their vision and rules governing how the city should grow and change between 2022 and 2028.

Drawing up the city development plan takes almost two years, with rounds of drafts, and councillors’ motions, and officials responses, and public consultation.

This week, councillors are voting on the final version of the new plan, which will come into effect before the end of 2022.

Grappling over policy responses to build-to-rent housing has been one of the major debates during the process.

The council’s chief executive, Owen Keegan, had recommendedto councillors that the mix of design standards should be flipped around, so that in each new development at least 40 percent of homes should be built to the higher design standard. But councillors rejected that idea.

“The level of build-to-rent in our city is bad for our city,” said Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey, at the meeting. It is “using up spare land”.

Independent Councillor Nial Ring said that build-to-rent housing “is substandard, inferior and is going back to tenement buildings almost”.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, of Fianna Fáil, has indicated that he plans to scrap the build-to-rent regulations anyway, said Ring.

Dublin City Council chief planner John O’Hara said the council hasn’t received any communication from the Department of Housing yet to that effect. “We can only, as the executive, work on written communication from the government.”

If the minister does scrap the build-to-rent standards then the council managers will bring that forward as a variation to the city development plan, said O’Hara.

The Office of the Planning Regulator previously said the council’s attempt to curtail build-to-rent housing in the way proposed was in conflict with national legislation, which allows for 100 percent build-to-rent housing developments.

The Council Hands a Win to the Bookies

Last November, councillors voted to seek to ban new bookies, gaming arcades and adult shops from opening up on the ground floors of buildings across the city. But that ban never made its way into the new city development plan.

“It is the policy of Dublin City Council to seek to prohibit betting shops, gaming arcades and adult shops at street level in our city,” said the motion, tabled by Councillor Damian O’Farrell, which was agreed unanimously.

O’Farrell said he was disappointed to find that the change was not included in the new city development plan.

At the full council meeting on Tuesday night, O’Hara, the council’s chief planner insisted that the meaning of the motion had, indeed, been incorporated into the draft city development plan.

O’Hara pointed to a paragraph in the new plan that says: “To seek to prohibit adult shops, betting shops and gaming arcades in proximity to residential areas, places of public worship and schools and to seek to prevent an excessive concentration of such uses having regard to the existing presence of such retail outlets in an area.”

That is a stronger ban than the one O’Farrell proposed, he said. “There is no missing motion. The overall intent is contained in the plan.”

But O’Farrell insisted that, with that language in the development plan, bookies would still be able to open up at street level in some parts of the city. In the plan, bookies are “open for consideration” under eight zoning categories.

Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan said he would ask the council’s law agent to look at the issue. (The law agent is a solicitor who advises the council on legal issues.)

Later in the meeting, O’Farrell said the law agent had agreed with him. “The law agent has accepted that a mistake was made by DCC planners in relation to my motion 136 in that they didn’t realise the significance of the motion.”

But it is too late to rectify that now, he said, because the proposed ban would have had to go out to public consultation for it to be incorporated into the new city development plan. “Paddy Power got a break today,” said O’Farrell.

Author:

Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

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