The new State body responsible for developing housing projects on State-owned land has suffered a setback to one of its first major schemes. The Land Development Agency has been refused permission to build more than 200 new homes at a former Army barracks in Co Kildare.
An Bord Pleanála has rejected an application by the agency to develop 221 social and affordable homes on the site of the former Devoy Barracks in Naas.
The board said the plans had provided insufficient car-parking spaces for a development that did not have high-frequency public transport connections.
The site on the John Devoy Road is adjacent to the headquarters of Kildare County Council, close to Naas town centre.
Alongside its concerns about the lack of parking spaces, the board said the development would be “dominated to an unacceptable degree” by surface car parking that would run contrary to guidelines for urban housing projects.
The agency had sought planning permission for 36 houses and 185 apartments and duplexes in buildings up to five storeys in height, as well as a creche on the 4.1 hectare site under the fast-track planning process for strategic housing developments.
A total of 30 units were to be provided for social housing with a two-bed apartment costing €166,782. The remainder was to be dedicated to affordable housing.
The board’s planning inspector said the Land Development Agency had sought to rely on reduced parking rates and on-street parking, which was “excessive” when large areas of off-street parking such as basements could have been used.
The inspector said the problem could not be resolved by way of a condition to granting planning permission.
The plan attracted 36 third-party submissions to An Bord Pleanála, with many claiming the pace of development in Naas needed to be slowed as construction on more than 1,300 new housing units had begun in a short time period.
They expressed concern that there was no commensurate increase in social and community infrastructure with some claiming the height, scale and density of the project was “out of character” with the location, with its layout dominated by roads and car parking.
Although the council said it considered a residential development was appropriate for the location, albeit at a higher density than other existing housing developments in the area, it recommended that planning permission be refused because of the lack of car park spaces and their “haphazard positioning” within the site.
Council planners believed the shortfall in car-park spaces would result in unauthorised car parking on streets and footpaths within the development as well as the council’s own offices and other housing estates in the area.
The agency claimed it would deliver “an attractive and well connected” new development on the site of the former barracks.
In its submission to the board, it said the proposed development was consistent with the Kildare County Development Plan and regional and national planning policies, including ones on transport and sustainable travel.
Although the reduced provision of car parking to just 235 spaces represented a material contravention of the development plan for Kildare, the agency claimed it was justified in the context of national planning policy to reduce reliance on private cars.
Under the county development plan, a total of 416 parking spaces should have been provided for the site.
Commenting on the board’s ruling, a spokesperson for the LDA said that while disappointed with the outcome, the decision was based primarily on the issue of car parking.
“We welcome the fact that the board responded positively to the principle of the development and its overall design,” the spokesperson said.
The agency said it would review the ruling in detail before re-submitting a fresh application to address the issues raised by An Bord Pleanála. The project was an important development for Naas and the broader community in Kildare which was consistent with its strategy of improving the supply of affordable homes, it said.