Dublin industrial estates could be rezoned for homes

City councillors will be asked to consider mass rezoning of lands, says housing chief

Dublin city’s industrial estates could be replaced by thousands of homes under large-scale rezoning plans. File photograph: Alan Betson

Dublin city’s industrial estates could be replaced by thousands of homes under large-scale rezoning plans. File photograph: Alan Betson


Dublin city’s industrial estates could be replaced by thousands of homes under large-scale mass rezoning plans from Dublin City Council to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

The council’s head of housing, deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny, said the city would “run out” of residentially zoned development land in four years and must turn its attention to industrial estates as a source of new housing land.

The sites would be suitable for high-density apartment development, Mr Kenny said, and could accommodate some high-rise buildings, taking advantage of the Government’s removal of caps on height.

The Department of Housing last week published draft guidelines to encourage local authorities to allow taller apartment blocks in city centres and close to good transport links. The target industrial lands are all beside established residential areas, with some already served by Luas and rail lines.

The rezoning of the hundreds of acres could result in a windfall for land owners whose sites are no longer commercially viable, but who have been unwilling to sell up because of the lower property values attached to industrially zoned lands.

Previously, old industrial or “brownfield” sites have been zoned on a case-by-case basis, but city councillors will, in the coming months, be asked to consider mass rezoning of large portions of – or sometimes entire – industrial estates.

“A lot of this land is totally underutilised,” Mr Kenny said. “In some places, for a large number of years there has been little or no activity on them.”

Older estates

The council will initially focus on the city’s older industrial estates which were once at the city’s outer reaches and have over the years become “sandwiched” between residential areas, such as the Dublin Industrial Estate in Glasnevin, the Kylemore Industrial Estate, west of Inchicore, and industrial lands around Coolock to the northeast of the city.

While these lands are in private ownership, the council hopes the change in zoning would “encourage” owners to either sell, or form development partnerships for the land.

“These industrial estates are ripe for development, but are owned by many people. We would like to see landowners coming together with masterplans on how their sites might be redeveloped.”

Even if land was rezoned, existing business could choose to continue operating, he said.

“It’s private property, we can’t take their premises off them, but we would like to give encouragement. We’re talking about big tracts of land, there is a lot of potential out there.”

Plans were already in place for all the council-owned land banks in the city, Mr Kenny said, and with Dublin facing ongoing housing shortages, in both the public and the private sector, now was the time to rezone older industrial lands. “We are running out of land. In four years’ time we won’t have any land left in the city for housing development.”

Dublin Industrial Estate

The council is particularly interested in the potential of the Dublin Industrial Estate, which has an entrance opposite Glasnevin cemetery but largely sits between Cabra and Finglas south.

These lands are serviced by the Broombridge stop of the new Luas cross-city line. “I think we could accommodate up to 20 storeys [at the end] of the Luas line; we need to be far more radical in terms of height,” Mr Kenny said.

The Government’s new Urban Development and Building Heights guidelines, which are available for public consultation for the next six weeks, stop local authorities setting “generic maximum height limits” on buildings. Increased height was “not only desirable but a fundamental policy requirement” in areas with the potential for comprehensive development such as “brownfield former industrial districts” the guidelines state.

“It is Government policy that building heights must be generally increased in appropriate urban locations. There is, therefore, a presumption in favour of buildings of increased height in our town/city cores and in other urban locations with good public transport accessibility.”