Nama clashes with Fingal council over lands with space for up to 7,000 new homes

‘Bad bank’ urges local authority to abandon moves to delay developing Dunsink lands

Nama has clashed with Fingal County Council over the future of lands in northwest Dublin that have space for up to 7,000 new homes.

The State-owned “bad bank” has urged the county council to abandon moves to delay developing the Dunsink lands for the rest of the 2020s by placing them in Fingal’s long-term strategic property reserve.

In a submission on Fingal County Council’s 2023-2029 draft development plan, Nama urged the council to allow early use of the Dunsink lands to help tackle the housing crisis, and argued that the proposed delay was at odds with sustainable development.

“Failure to prepare such a statutory context in the 2023-2029 cycle, unnecessarily stalls development on this site until the 2030s at the earliest but possibly the early 2040s, at a time when Dublin has a major housing shortage,” Nama said.

Nama was established at the height of the financial crisis to buy soured property loans from banks. The body retains security over lands in Dunsink, a short distance from the city centre, and also at Lissenhall near Swords and at Belcamp.

Nama said the “prime residential development lands” on which it has security at Lissenhall also had space for 7,000 new homes.

The agency is lender to Bovale Developments, which has made a separate submission to Fingal on its Lissenhall lands, citing the same number of potential new homes.

“We welcome the inclusion of Lissenhall on the list of locations where [a local area plan] will be prepared and strongly urge the preparation of such a statutory context within the first year of the development plan cycle,” Nama said.

Public consultation

The agency’s submission to Fingal council was one among more than 1,800 sent in a public consultation on the draft plan. The local authority said it would be inappropriate to comment on any of them, adding that its chief executive would issue a July report on the submissions and that councillors anticipated adopting the plan next March.

In its submission, the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) issued binding recommendations to the council to tackle “clear breaches” of legislation in the draft plan and also of certain Government and regional policies.

"In particular, the extent of lands zoned within the draft plan needs to be justified to ensure a sufficient and stable supply of residential and employment land is aligned with the core strategy and in the right locations where sustainable transport options are being provided," said the office of regulator Niall Cussen.

His office said the core strategy in the draft plan “does not contain any significant capacity for additional significant residential or employment land use zoning” without a commensurate reduction elsewhere. It also called for “greater clarity and focus” in prioritising better located land for housing.

The regulator was established in 2019 to oversee the planning system on foot of a recommendation made by the Mahon tribunal. “The OPR works proactively with local authorities in the deliberations on their plans to ensure the best outcomes for communities which are consistent with regional and national planning policies,” it said.

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