Ranelagh rezoning ‘not a mistake’, says council

Decision could spark legal action over controversial apartment scheme

Dublin City Council says a zoning decision that could spark legal action over controversial apartment plans for the upmarket suburb of Ranelagh was not a mistake.

In December planners gave Ardstone Capital subsidiary Sandford Living permission to build 667 apartments on a Milltown Park site that had belonged to the Jesuit Order of Catholic priests, owner of nearby private college Gonzaga.

Sandford threatened legal action when it saw that the council’s draft development plan subsequently zoned the Ranelagh site Z15, unless the authority “rectified the error”.

Z15 zoning threatens the project, as it bans anyone other than an institution from building in areas with this designation.

Dublin City Council confirmed in a statement that the draft development plan proposed that the Z15 zoning that the Milltown site had before it got planning permission be retained.

The council pointed out that An Bord Pleanála gave Sandford permission to build the apartments while public consultations on its draft development plan were under way.

An Bord Pleanála gave Sandford’s build-to-rent scheme the go-ahead in the face of local opposition backed by TDs Ivana Bacik of Labour and Jim Callaghan of Fianna Fáil. Ranelagh residents described the plan as “horrendous”.

Sandford’s advisers Thornton O’Connor point out in a submission that Dublin City Council also supported the project as it was for new housing.

Council staff dubbed parts of the Milltown development a “planning gain” as they added to public amenities.

‘Effective sterilisation’

Thornton O’Connor argues that the council’s subsequent Z15 zoning and “effective sterilisation” of the Ranelagh site “constitute an unlawful and unconstitutional” breach of Sandford’s property rights.

The planning consultants add that Sandford has high-profile lawyers Arthur Cox on standby to advise on legal action.

Dublin City Council’s draft development plan proposes altering what Z15 zoning permits.

The document limits it to institutional development, which means that only organisations such as religious orders, using the property for their own purposes, can build there.

In the 2016-2022 development plan, Z15 allowed new home building and other projects, along with institutional use.

Sandford’s advisers say the land should be zoned Z12, defined as “institutional land with future development potential”.

Planners will report to Dublin city councillors on all 3,000 submissions received on the draft plan at a meeting in July.

The council will invite the public’s views on any material amendments to the draft plan in August, before it is finalised in October.

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