The Office of the Planning Regulator and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors are at odds over their decision to prohibit new housing on some of the State’s most expensive residential lands, in an area that is home to celebrities such as Bono and Enya.
Last year, councillors voted to block any development on lands along the capital's southeastern coast, encompassing large tracts of land south of Dalkey village, on the east of Killiney Hill and some land between the hill and Shankill.
Explaining the move in the draft county development plan for 2022-2028, the councillors said their aim was to protect the heritage and character of areas that incorporate many winding roads, period homes and large gardens.
However, the decision went against the advice of the planning regulator – the body tasked with reviewing procedures applied by planning authorities – as well as the recommendations of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council interim chief executive Tom McHugh.
In a submission on the council’s draft plan, the regulator said it was clear that the intention of the action is to ensure that no additional residential buildings would be allowed, bar limited exceptions. It further noted: “The application of the zero objective on lands within Dublin city and suburbs, located along high capacity public transport corridor of the Dart line, is contrary to government policy.”
The heritage and character of the area is already protected by development plan objectives, including architectural conservation areas, and the placing of properties on protected structures lists, plus other measures.
In April last year, the planning regulator said the council was “required to omit” the zero zoning objective from the draft development plan as it represented “an unnecessary restriction on sustainable development”.
Following the refusal of councillors to do so, the regulator has now made a further submission to members, reminding them that “of one of the key functions” of the regulator “includes strategic evaluation and assessment of statutory plans to ensure consistency with legislative and policy requirements relating to planning”.
The regulator’s latest submission reiterates the advice on the zero zoning, telling councillors it is “inconsistent with the strategic approach of the draft plan to contribute to climate change mitigation through supporting compact growth with development focused on transportation corridors and minimisation of travel”.
The regulator has warned the inclusion of zero zoning rendered the draft plan in less than full compliance with national planning policy and legislation. It also took issue with the council’s rezoning of land in flood plains, which, again, had been the subject of an earlier recommendation for change.
The regulator said that while it welcomed “extensive amendments to the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) it noted, however, that lands that have failed assessment tests “are still proposed to be zoned for vulnerable and highly vulnerable uses”.
Should the councillors adopt a plan which is not concurrent with the views of the planning regulator, it had the option of asking Minister of State for planning Peter Burke to issue a direction to the council to amend its plan.