A major planning application for a “neighbourhood centre” adjacent to the M50 at Carrickmines in south Co Dublin includes “an indoor sky-diving arena”.
But local politicians have criticised plans by developer Iput to satisfy its Part V social housing obligations by offering the local authority 13 apartments for social housing at average cost of more than €500,000 each.
The €75 million proposal, from one of the State’s largest property vehicles, covers land in an undeveloped area of Carrickmines retail park bordering Ballyogan Road, adjacent to Junction 15 on the M50.
Commercial elements of the new neighbourhood would include retail, restaurants and cafes, a seven-screen cinema, a creche, office space, car showrooms, a medical centre, two supermarkets - with off licence facilities - and a linear park.
Plans indicate a series of open landscaped streets with almost 1,000 car parking spaces in two basement levels. A bridge across the Ballyogan road is to connect the development to the Green Luas line.
A feature of the development will be eco-friendly “green roofs” on most of the commercial buildings on which grass and shrubs would be planted as well as the use of photovoltaic cells to provide renewable energy. Architects drawings indicate a curved roof sloping upwards in an arc from the edges, covered in vegetation.
The leisure element is to include the cinemas, a gym and an “indoor sky-diving facility”. So far, there is only one indoor sky-diving facility in Ireland - the Vertigo skydiving simulator in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The Belfast facility uses high pressure “wind” blown up through the floor in a specially built enclosure to allow participants to “fly” around a soft-walled chamber. The experience is designed to mimic sky-diving from a plane. Costs for the Belfast facility start from about €51 for individual flyers building to €450 for a 30-minute tailored session for two people.
In all, the proposed development comprises a gross floor area of 83,996 square metres, excluding the basement car parks. Provision is also made for a landscaped linear park across the site.
However the housing element – some 130 apartments in three blocks accessed by a new road running from Ballyogan Road into the site – has caused disquiet in some quarters because of the quoted costs of the apartments.
Iput has proposed fulfilling its Part V planning obligation to provide social housing, through the transfer of 13 apartments to the council for €6.698 million, an average cost of more than €515,000 per apartment.
A spokesman for Iput said apartments came with up to three bedrooms and at least one car parking space but specifics remained to be negotiated with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
But Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor, Ossian Smyth, said the price was “ridiculous” value for money. Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin also criticised the proposal saying it raised “serious concerns” over how much developers are charging local authorities for social housing under Part V.
“In the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis, it is certainly not the best use of local authority resources. Local authorities should be supported and encouraged by Government to acquire land under Part V rather than buying exorbitantly priced housing units after a developer has finished construction.
“This would enable local authorities to build far more units for the same money,” she said.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it cannot comment on live planning applications. However, it said costs submitted in compliance with developers’ social housing obligations were “indicative only” and subject to final agreement with the council.