Construction firm lobbied two councils on proposal to allow smaller gardens

As well as briefing Minister, Glenveagh Properties met management at local authorities in places where it plans to build hundreds of homes

Glenveagh Properties chief executive and co-founder Stephen Garvey. Photograph: Fennell Photography

A construction company which has suggested that the Government overhaul planning regulations to allow housing developments with smaller gardens also lobbied two local authorities on the proposals.

Glenveagh Properties briefed Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien on its ‘Sustainable Compact Growth Design Standards’ report in March.

Its returns to the register of lobbying show that representatives of the company also presented the proposals to senior management at Fingal and Wicklow county councils — two places where it is planning to build hundreds of homes in the coming years.

The report by Glenveagh Properties — one of the largest homebuilders in the State — proposes that current standards of a 60sq m garden for a typical three-bedroom house be cut to 40sq m.


It also suggests more tightly-built streets and less focus on building apartments, arguing there is “no appetite for owner-occupied apartments outside of M50 (and limited within M50)”.

Compact Growth Design Standards
Compact Growth Design Standards

Glenveagh had separate meetings with Fingal and Wicklow county councils in April.

Their respective chief executives AnnMarie Farrelly and Brian Gleeson among those listed by Glenveagh as being lobbied.

Glenveagh declared the intended results of the lobbying as “changes within the section 28 guidelines”.

These are the guidelines to planning authorities on “sustainable and compact settlement”.

Glenveagh has made several planning permission applications to both Fingal and Wicklow county councils in recent years.

Plans for 548 homes over a decade across a number of townlands in the Dublin 15 area of Fingal and a proposal to build 150 homes over two phases in Rathnew in Co Wicklow are being considered by An Bord Pleanála.

Glenveagh Properties did not respond directly to a question on whether it would seek to change existing planning applications to increase the number of housing units it could build if regulations are changed to allow for smaller garden sizes.

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A Glenveagh spokesman said: “As we disclosed in the public register, the purpose of these meetings was to set out how better use of private outdoor space would help reduce the current reliance on apartments and meet the far greater demand for own-door houses”.

The company argues that this would ultimately lead to “lower prices, more supply and more private outdoor space in aggregate across new developments”.

The spokesman said: “We have nothing to add to what was disclosed in the public register.”

When asked by The Irish Times on Thursday, neither county council offered any indication of whether their respective management support Glenveigh’s proposals.

A spokesman for Fingal County Council said: “Housing delivery remains a priority for the council and Fingal has an ambitious social and affordable housing construction programme running alongside homes being built in private developments.

“This is done in line with current guidelines and in keeping with the Fingal Development Plan.”

A spokesman for Wicklow County Council said it “has no comment to make on any individual company’s report”.

He said: “In making a decision on any planning application the planning authority is required to make its decision by considering the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to various matters including the provisions of the county development plan and ministerial guidelines.”

A spokesman for the Department of Housing similarly did not offer Mr O’Brien’s views on the Glenveagh proposals.

He said the compact growth of cities and towns was a key objective of the National Planning Framework to create more attractive places for people to live and work and contribute to a “low-carbon, climate-resilient society”.

The spokesman said the Housing for All plan “commits to the development of sustainable and compact settlement guidance” and the department was in the process of developing section 28 guidelines for planning authorities.

There will be a public consultation on draft guidelines developed by working groups involving representatives from the construction industry and the public sector.

There will be a further review before they are submitted to the Minister for approval to publish.

The spokesman added: “Once issued, planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála will be required to have regard to the guidelines in carrying out their functions.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times