Regulatory burden needs to be relaxed in Georgian Dublin, says city manager
Residential use will be encouraged to stop vacancy and dereliction, says Owen Keegan
Dublin city manager Owen Keegan: “The city council must recognise that, however well-intentioned its regulatory other interventions have been, they have undoubtedly contributed to the current unsatisfactory state of affairs.” Photograph: Alan Betson
The “regulatory burden” on owners or prospective developers of Georgian houses needs to be relaxed to bring these buildings into residential use, Dublin city manager Owen Keegan has said.
Council policies and statutory requirements in relation to building, fire and disability access regulations were a “powerful incentive to inactivity” by property owners, facilitating vacancy, which leads to dereliction.
“For its part the city council must recognise that, however well-intentioned its regulatory other interventions have been, they have undoubtedly contributed to the current unsatisfactory state of affairs,” Mr Keegan said.
“If the current trend towards vacancy and dereliction is to be reversed and refurbishment for sustainable residential uses promoted then the city council is going to have to be much more flexible and facilitating in its regulatory role.”
The council needed to be “much more conscious of the market realities” to ensure heritage buildings were reused without compromising architectural integrity to “an unacceptable extent”.
Mr Keegan was speaking at a joint council and Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland conference on the future of south Dublin Georgian squares.
A study by senior council planner Paul Kearns found the south Georgian core had lost its commercial appeal, with vacancy rates of up to 20 per cent.
The council has commissioned conservation architects to develop templates building owners or prospective buyers will be able to use to convert houses to residential use.
Zonings that required developers to have a residential “component” in an office building had been counterproductive, Mr Kearns told the conference. “Developers either walked away or shoehorned in a bedsit.”
Chartered surveyor Michael Cleary said there was a need to set up a specialist development agency like the Dublin Docklands Development Authority to direct the development of the area as a residential quarter.
Felix McKenna of the National Asset Management Agency, speaking in a personal capacity, said there was a “compelling reason for defending the notion of tax reliefs” for those converting buildings to residential use.
He said residential development would most likely be through individuals with an interest, not by institutional investors.