Irish Water row threatens major new housing scheme

Utility can only supply water for a fraction of the homes in planned Maynooth development

Plans for a large-scale development of more than 400 homes by Ireland’s largest housebuilder in Maynooth, Co Kildare, could be jeopardised by Irish Water’s lack of supply capacity. File photograph: Getty Images

Plans for a large-scale development of more than 400 homes by Ireland’s largest housebuilder in Maynooth, Co Kildare, could be jeopardised by Irish Water’s lack of supply capacity. File photograph: Getty Images

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Plans for a large-scale development of more than 400 homes by Ireland’s largest housebuilder in Maynooth, Co Kildare, could be jeopardised by Irish Water’s lack of supply capacity.

The semi-State utility firm told Cairn Homes there was supply capacity for 40 homes on the Mariavilla site, just one-tenth of the number for which housebuilder has sought fast-track planning permission.

Cairn has warned Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe that of its 30 sites, the company is “not in a position to build on 19 of these as of now”. It cited difficulties and delays in getting local area plans approved or altered and specifically mentioned the cases of Clonburris, Brennanstown Road and Cherrywood in Dublin.

The company told the Minister there “would be little or no apartment supply over the next few years”, something seen as crucial to alleviating the housing crisis across the State and particularly in Dublin.

Records of a meeting held in November, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show Cairn drew attention to the mismatch between apartment supply and new office supply.

Mr Donohoe told the company his motivation for increasing stamp duty on commercial properties in the October budget was to signal the need for a shift from office to housing supply.

Loan-to-income rules

Michael Stanley, Cairn’s chief executive, and John Reynolds, its chairman, told the Minister that land use remained a critical issue as is the need to increase housing output in the €275,000-€350,000 price bracket, where price rises were “restrained by the macroprudential loan-to-income rules”.

The housebuilder is one of a number using the fast-track planning system launched last July to speed up the planning process, bypassing the local-authority decision-making processes.

Instead of developers applying to their local authority, whose decisions could then be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, applications for large developments can be made directly to the board.

Cairn initially lodged an application for the Mariavilla site last September, in advance of its meeting with the Minister.

After the meeting the Minister asked Cairn to meet officials in the housing delivery office in the Department of Housing to discuss “issues around site activation and planning”.

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