Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council faces Government intervention over move to block homes

Planning regulators say it is an ‘unnecessary restriction on sustainable development’

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is facing a Government intervention over its contentious move to block new homes being built in the south Dublin suburbs of Killiney and Dalkey, as a row intensifies over the future of some of the most valuable lands in the State.

Planning regulators objected to the ban, arguing it was “an unnecessary restriction” on sustainable development. But councillors refused to remove the measure from their 2022-28 development plan, in defiance of the regulator’s statutory recommendations to overturn it.

Now regulator Niall Cussen has asked Minister of State for local government Peter Burke to issue formal directions to the council compelling it to take action over breaches of such recommendations.

The development plan says “significant parts” of Dalkey and Killiney are characterised by low density development, adding that “no increase in the number of residential buildings will normally be permitted” in some areas.


In correspondence to the Minister late last week, Mr Cussen has also asked him to issue directions over new restrictions on buy-to-let apartments in the development plan. The regulator opposed measures that require three-bedroom apartments to be built in 40 per cent of the units in build-to-rent schemes in “new residential communities”.

Mr Burke is understood to be preparing to issue draft directions on both counts in coming days, meaning the matter will go back to the council. That move essentially means the council will have to reopen the development plan it adopted last month, after 18 months of debate.

The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) was established in 2019 to provide independent oversight of the planning process. One of its functions is to assess development plans to ensure they properly apply national policies.

City and county councils around the State are in the process of adopting a new wave of development plans, which sets the framework for housing and other developments for the rest of the decade.

Mr Cussen’s call for a ministerial direction in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown plan is his sixth. He previously asked the Minister to intervene in the plans of Cork County Council and the councils in Kilkenny, Laois, Meath and Westmeath.

Asked about the regulator’s decision on its plan, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council said any notification seeking a ministerial direction goes to the Minister and not it as the planning authority.

“The Minister then has two weeks in which to issue notice of any intention to issue a direction to the planning authority. That further two-week period has not yet passed,” the council said.

The regulator’s office had no comment on its decision, which follows a four-week review of the development plan.

Any ministerial direction “commences a process by the local authority, including public consultation, after which the OPR further considers the matter with a view to recommending, or not, that the Minister issue a final direction” on the plan.

“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.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times