Regulator asked to explain opposition to build-to-rent restrictions

Office of the Planning Regulator to be called to meeting of Dublin City Council

The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) is to be called to a meeting of Dublin City Council to explain its opposition to planned restrictions on build-to-rent developments in the city.

Deputy planning regulator Anne Marie O’Connor earlier this year told the council to remove policies from the upcoming city development plan for 40 per cent of build-to-rent apartments to be larger than required under ministerial guidelines. The council was also ordered not to block the development of small build-to-rent schemes of fewer than 100 apartments.

The draft development plan required build-to-rent schemes of more than 100 homes to have at least 40 per cent of properties that were “standard build-to-sell apartments”. Build-to-rent apartments do not have to have to comply with minimum size standards required in homes for sale. Build-to-rent schemes of fewer than 100 homes would generally not be permitted, as they would not have a “critical mass” to support good communal facilities.

Ms O’Connor said the build-to-rent curbs clashed with national policy as there was “no national policy grounding in the Minister’s guidelines” for specifying “that 40 per cent of build-to-rent developments are to be of a different set of internal design standards”.


Similarly, she said there was “no national or regional policy basis, or any other evidence provided, to support the view that a scheme of less than 100 units cannot provide meaningful communal facilities and services”.

In response to the regulator's submission, council chief executive Owen Keegan said the "over-dominance" of build-to-rent schemes in Dublin has become "unsustainable" with the potential to have "significant long-term adverse impacts on the housing needs of the city".

He recommended councillors press ahead with restrictions on the build-to-rent schemes in the new city development plan.

Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland on Monday agreed to write to the regulator, on foot of a motion from Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan, to ask that a representative come before a council meeting.

“The new powers afforded to the Office of the Planning Regulator are so significant that elected members must be given a chance to question the OPR on its written submission in City Hall to ensure public confidence in the City Development Plan,” his motion said.

A council analysis undertaken in preparation for the development plan found a rapid increase in the dominance of build-to-rent schemes, with numbers rising from just over 15 per cent of all residential schemes applied for or granted in 2018 to almost 82 per cent in 2020.

Mr Keegan said the emergence of “very large schemes solely comprising build-to-rent with a lack of housing mix is considered inappropriate and will not contribute to the creation of long-term viable and stable communities”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times