Coillte to move into housing development on Co Galway site

‘It makes sense that we would be part of solution to housing supply challenge’

Moycullen Village

Moycullen Village

 

Semi-state forestry group Coillte plans to apply for planning permission for about 59 new homes on a 3.2-hectare site that it owns in Moycullen, Co Galway.

This is one of three sites – the others being in Cork and Mayo – identified by Coillte as surplus to its own operations and potentially suitable for residential housing as part of the Government’s plan Rebuilding Ireland.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mark Foley, managing director of Coillte Land Solutions, said it hoped to receive planning permission in mid to late 2018 but had yet to decide how it will proceed to the building phase.

Acknowledging that Coillte was not a specialist in house construction, Mr Foley said the agency could yet sell the site to interested developers, or could partner with someone to build out the site.

“We’ll be going to the market to see what the possible options are [for the site] to take it from planning concept to building concept.

“The first thing to do is to secure planning permission for a scheme next year. We’ve asked the architects to come up with a design that is very carbon efficient.”

Seán Dockry & Associates has been engaged as architect on the project with McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan acting as planning consultants.

Planning permission

The site, adjacent to the Ballycuirke Canal and the proposed Connemara Greenway route, is not used for forestry purposes. Planning permission for housing was secured in 2007 but the development did not proceed due to the economic crash, and the permission later lapsed.

Mr Foley said the new scheme would be a mix of two- to four-bed semi-detached units, possibly with a “few five-bedroom houses”. Provision will be made for social housing, as per building regulations.

“This is a real prototype development for us and we’re feeling our way and trying to understand the planning environment and design concepts,” Mr Foley said.

“It makes sense that we would … be part of the national solution to Ireland’s housing supply challenge, and with this proposal we hope to provide a sustainable model for the future of housing in this country.”

Mr Foley said the scheme could “pave the way for more innovative projects in the residential development space”, with the creation of parkland walkways, cycleways and a community allotment area.

Local consultation

Coillte plans to consult with the local community on its housing plan with a view to incorporating this feedback into the final design before lodging its planning application with Galway County Council over the next few months.

Coillte manages about 440,000 hectares of land in Ireland. Some 15,000 hectares have been identified as suitable for non-forestry uses and are managed by Coillte Land Solutions. This is a specialist unit within the company, employing 40 staff and charged with deploying the land in support of Government policy.

In 2016, this unit disposed of land to IDA Ireland for the location of an Apple data centre in Athenry, Co Galway. It also sold land to Center Parcs to develop a major holiday resort in Co Longford. These represent two of the biggest foreign direct investments in Ireland in recent years.

Coillte, a commercial semi-state company, achieved an operating profit of €64.4 million on turnover of almost €288 million last year, paying a dividend of €6.2 million to the State.