Council reject Hibernia lobbying over Newlands Cross rezoning

Efforts by investment giant to lobby for land rezoning shot down by south Dublin council

Kevin Nowlan of Hibernia Reit wrote to local authority chief executive Daniel McLoughlin on September 27th, lobbying for the land to be rezoned. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Kevin Nowlan of Hibernia Reit wrote to local authority chief executive Daniel McLoughlin on September 27th, lobbying for the land to be rezoned. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Efforts by Hibernia Reit to lobby South Dublin County Council to rezone land it paid nearly €30 million for last year for residential development were rejected by the local authority.

Last September the property investment group purchased the land near the N7 at Newlands Cross, from the Irish Rugby Football Union. The site was zoned for agricultural use.

Representatives from Hibernia met council planning officials three times last year to present proposals for a large housing development on the 144-acre site.

Minutes of one meeting in late September show Hibernia officials were told the proposed plan “would not be in compliance” with current zoning, set out under the County Development Plan 2016-2022.

There were “no plans in place” to amend the zoning to permit housing, council officials told the developer.

Kevin Nowlan, chief executive of Hibernia Reit, wrote to local authority chief executive Daniel McLoughlin on September 27th, lobbying for the land to be rezoned.

Not resolved

Mr Nowlan said there was “no doubt” the land would be developed for a mixed-use housing project in the medium term. But if several issues were not resolved in the short-term, he said, the “development potential of the overall site will be significantly diminished”.

Proposed housing on the site would have a high proportion of “apartments designed for the rental market”, he said.

The developer proposed sharing the cost of a new access road from the site to the Red Cow Luas station, which would pass through council-owned land.

Mr Nowlan said that, if planning began for the site that day, building would be “unlikely to commence before 2023/2024”. If the proposal was held up until the next county development plan was approved, it would be 2028 “before the first unit is built”, he said.

Delaying building on the land, amid the current housing crisis, would be a “lost opportunity”, he said.

‘No surprise’

In a short response, Mr McLoughlin shot down any chance the land would be rezoned to residential-use under the current development plan, which will not be up for review until June 2020.

Mr McLoughlin said council planning officials had made that position clear, and his comments “will come as no surprise”.

“In addition, I want to make it absolutely clear, Hibernia Reit is not authorised to identify lands in this council’s ownership, as part of any discussion around future speculative zoning proposals,” Mr McLoughlin said.

Problems

The correspondence was obtained by The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) officials also had problems with the development proposal, following queries about road access from council officials, due to its location near the N7.

TII said any development on the land had “national policy considerations”, due to the impact of increased traffic.