How can we find out about local plans for areas we are house-hunting in?

What to look out for when looking at a new neighbourhood

Q. We’ve been priced out of the neighbourhood we wanted to live in and we’re now looking at other areas that we’re not so familiar with. What’s the best way to find out what development or infrastructure plans that might affect the neighbourhoods we’re now hunting in?

A. I empathise with you in your search, however it is important that you stay focused in your property searching. Moving your property search to a different area does not mean that you won't find the right house.

Focusing your search in an area which you are not fully familiar with can bring a whole host of challenges and rewards. There are a number of ways that you can investigate whether a particular area may be affected by development and infrastructure plans:

1. Consult with the local authority and review local development plans. These plans show what ambitions the council has for a particular area over the medium and long term. However, while such plans are into the future, development can take place in a piecemeal fashion. These plans will also show particular land zonings (residential, commercial, industrial zones).

2. Developments of significant scale are often planned under the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) and strategic housing "fast track" process. SDZ refers to areas of land where it's planned to build developments of economic or social importance to the State, including housing. Some examples of such developments in Dublin include Adamstown, Clonburris and Poolbeg. New planning regulations from 2017 allow large scale housing developments (over 100 units) be made directly to An Bord Pleanála in a "fast track" planning process. It might be worth researching if any such developments are being proposed in your local area.

3. Staying with your local authority, visit the planning department and review pending and granted planning applications for the area.

4. Consult with the local chamber of commerce who will generally be aware of any major developments proposed or being developed in a particular area.

5. Consult with local community groups that are active in the area such as tidy towns, town development associations, sporting organisations, etc.

6. Go online and look at community type forums where you might find out about a particular issue in an area.

Moving to an area which you are not familiar with may seem daunting, however it is important to do your homework to ensure that this area is right for you and has all of the amenities that you require.

One simple way of finding out about issues that may be present or are coming down the line is to ask people (call into shops, knock on doors close to where you see the house for sale). You would be amazed how friendly people are and how welcoming they will be. After a few short conversations you’ll have a brief history of the area and a good understanding of the issues which are of particular concern to local residents.

And finally best of luck with your house hunting.

Andrew O’Gorman is a Chartered Building Surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland