Land of religious congregations in Dublin may be rezoned for housing

Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 01:00

LAND OWNED by religious congregations in Dublin is set to be rezoned to allow for residential development following a decision to change the Dublin City Development Plan.

The plan, which sets down what developments are permitted in the city, had barred some 770 hectares of institutional land on 186 sites across the city from being used for housing.

More than half the land is held by religious bodies.

Properties that will be affected by the new zoning include more than 130 primary and secondary schools, third-level colleges, health facilities, barracks and museums.

Among the schools are Muckross Park College, Donnybrook; Alexandra College, Milltown; St Louis High School, Rathmines; and the Sisters of Charity St Mary’s home and school for the blind in Dublin.

All Hallows College in Drumcondra and Marino Institute of Education, Dublin, are included, as is RTÉ’s complex at Montrose in Donnybrook.

Legal action taken by the Sisters of Charity resulted in the High Court quashing that zoning last June. Mr Justice Frank Clarke said the council failed to give adequate reasons for such “highly restrictive” zoning.

Dublin city councillors last night voted by 24 votes to 12 to change the development plan so that applications for residential development could be open for consideration at the institutional sites but only in certain circumstances.

In any proposal for residential use on a site it must be demonstrated how the retention of the main institutional and community uses on the site, including space for any necessary expansion, would be secured.

A quarter of the site must be set aside for accessible public open space and/or community facilities unless the footprint of the existing buildings exceeds 50 per cent of the total site area of the institutional lands in question. In such circumstances a 10 per cent public open space requirement would apply.

A group of Labour councillors proposed an amendment so that any residential development would not exceed 5 per cent of an institutional site. However, in a report to councillors, assistant city manager Philip Maguire said such a cap would be “unnecessarily restrictive” and prejudged every planning application regardless of the merits of the case.

“It should be noted that the High Court took the view that there must be some proportionality between the aims of the planning regime as a whole and the effect on individuals whose position may be affected by decisions made in that planning process,” he said.

Councillors accepted the manager’s recommendation and voted by 22 votes to 16 against the amendment.

Independent councillor Cieran Perry proposed an amendment which would continue the ban on residential use but it was defeated by 22 votes to 10.

The changes will be available for public consultation before they are formally ratified by the city councillors and included in the plan.