Irish property investment group Tetrarch Capital has written to 40 councillors in Fingal to seek their support for a rezoning of five hectares (12 acres) at Howth Estate for the construction of 195 senior living residential units and 50 affordable homes for first-time buyers.
In a letter sent on Monday, Tetrarch said it would be happy for the zoning to “very clearly condition the lands for the development of a retirement community and affordable homes only and exclude their development for traditional residential use.
“We will work with the council to identify first time buyers who qualify for affordable housing and all affordable homes will be offered for sale at prices within the council’s affordability threshold,” the letter from Tetrarch’s co-founder Michael McElligott adds.
The group said the area earmarked for the development equates to about 2.5 per cent of estate lands and were formerly in amenity/golf course use.
“We are writing to you specifically to ask you to consider the merits of our proposal and are seeking your support for the zoning of these lands,” it adds.
Tetrarch acquired the Howth Estate in Dublin in May 2019 from its long-term owners, the Gaisford-St Lawrence family, for an undisclosed sum. It is hoping to secure the rezoning for Fingal’s next development plan, which runs from 2023 to 2029.
In the letter to councillors, Tetrarch cites data projecting that the population of over 65s in the country could increase from 650,000 at the time of the 2016 census to 1.6 million in 30 years time, according to the Central Statistics Office. And it notes that retirement schemes are well established as a concept in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
“Our proposed senior living communities at Howth Estate and elsewhere will provide an alternative to the stark choice families face here in Ireland between funding ad hoc care in the home or moving their parents to a nursing home. The senior living care model makes it possible to defer or eliminate the need for a nursing home and to avoid much of the cost associated with such care, which may or may not be subsidised by the Fair Deal Scheme,” Mr McElligott states, adding that the cost to individuals would be about half that of a nursing home.
Close to new hotel
The development would be located on the estate close to a new 145-bedroom hotel that Tetrarch hopes to build. This would replace the former Deer Park Hotel, with a planning application expected early next year.
The hotel would include amenities and facilities that would be shared with residents of the proposed retirement community, including a swimming pool, wellness centre and gym.
Tetrarch has also informed the councillors of its plan to expand the “areas of native woodland in the estate through new planting and to dramatically improve public accessibility”. Access has been a bone of contention with some members of the local community since Tetrarch acquired the property.
Tetrarch’s letter states that it plans a “significant programme of restorative works to the castle and grounds”. The refurbishment of Howth Castle would involve it becoming a food, hospitality and retail destination.
The Howth plan is part of a wider move by Tetrarch to become Ireland’s largest provider of retirement accommodation. The group’s current pipeline of sites has the potential for more than 600 homes for senior living.