Developers cast doubt over Dublin City Council’s housing targets

Calls for proposed curbs on build-to-rent apartments schemes to be scrapped

Major developers have cast doubt over Dublin City Council’s housing targets, calling into question the potential to deliver the scale of new homes needed to tackle the housing crisis.

Developers have also called for proposed curbs on build-to-rent apartments schemes to be scrapped, in submissions made as the planning regulator moved to block such restrictions being introduced.

The developers’ views were set out in voluminous submissions to the council on its 2022-28 draft development plan, which will set a parameter for building in the city for the rest of the decade.

Almost 1,500 submissions published by the council include papers from companies controlled by figures such as Sean Mulryan, Johnny Ronan and Michael O’Flynn and builders such as Glenveagh and Castlethorn.


Mr Mulryan’s Ballymore group, which is involved in projects at Connolly Station and the Guinness brewery at St James’s Gate, said the council’s “core strategy” was to deliver up to 35,550 units by 2028 in 17 strategic development and regeneration areas (SDRAs).

“We are concerned that the council has a very optimistic view as to the capacity of these SDRAs to deliver the quantity of residential units identified in the core strategy,” the group said.

“We are concerned that the densities proposed within the SDRAs . . . are unrealistically high, that the quantum of lands capable of being developed within six years has been overestimated and that the complexity of developing the sites has been underestimated, which together will lead to a very significant shortfall in the delivery of housing within the plan period.”

Glenveagh Properties questioned the council’s view that building would be carried out on 80 per cent of all zoned residential lands in the plan period.

“This assumption is not consistent with how development has been delivered previously and given the timeframe for securing permission, is unlikely to be achieved,” the company said.

“We consider that this will result in a shortfall of units being provided during the lifetime of the development plan that will further [exacerbate] the lack of housing available in Dublin.”

Mr Ronan’s business, Ronan Group Real Estate, said “a number of policies and development management standards” in the draft plan were likely to constrain housing delivery and achieving targets.

“In this respect, our client would seek more ambitious capacity targets for SDRA land . . . This will ensure that the acknowledged shortfall of housing delivery on the ground is considered and incorporated into housing targets and estimated capacities as set out within the draft plan,” said the group’s advisers, John Spain Associates.

Mr O’Flynn’s business O’Flynn Group, which has a big project at the former Nissan site on the Naas Road, said the new planning proposal will overlap with an existing local area plan for one year.

“That plan was conceived under an entirely different set of circumstances, and it is respectfully submitted that many of the land use objectives, specifically the stipulated quantities of floor-space allocated to residential, commercial and retail are now obsolete.”

Castlethorn Construction hit out at proposals to curb build-to-rent apartments, saying the policy was unworkable on the scale proposed.

“We would be very concerned also with regard to the implications of imposing a minimum 40 per cent build-to-sell requirement for all apartment schemes in excess of 100 [number] units,” it said.

“The threshold of 100 [number] units is way too low to start prescribing percentage mixes of tenure and it would completely undermine the investment and operational model on which [build-to-rent] developments are based.”

US group Kennedy Wilson said the 40 per cent build-to-sell rule was unclear. A requirement for apartments with non-build-to-rent standards would go beyond “the national standardised approach to apartment development”, it said.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times