Plans to rezone several old industrial sites in Dublin for hundreds of new homes have been dropped following objections from existing residents and city councillors.
The council’s planning department had proposed the rezoning of 20 underused and vacant industrial sites in the city for up to 3,500 homes.
However, councillors would not approve the rezoning of some the largest sites, citing concerns over the type of homes that would be put on the land, the potential height of apartment blocks and the lack of control the councillors would have over the lands.
Plans to rezone a site in East Wall were also shelved following warnings from Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Office of the Planning Regulator that new homes could scupper the development of the Eastern Bypass under Sandymount Strand. This site could have accommodated more than 500 homes.
The decision not to rezone four of the 20 sites has reduced the number of homes that could be built to less than 1,600.
In addition to the East Wall site, rezoning of the two of the largest sites was dropped after more than 200 objections were received from local residents. Both sites were in Santry, at Santry Avenue and Shanowen Road, which could have accommodated 800 and 400 apartments respectively.
Councillors also voted against the rezoning of a site at Greenmount industrial estate in Harold’s Cross which could have seen the development of 100 homes.
Social Democrats councillor Patricia Roe said residents feared a situation where a "nine-storey monstrosity" could be built "in the middle of two-storey housing estate".
Independent councillor John Lyons said the planning system favoured developers "in the extreme". He said: "It would be reckless of us to rezone any of these sites" and it would "do irreparable damage" not just to existing residents but to future residents.
Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan said it was “vital” the rezonings went ahead. “There will always be people who have particular issues, we have to take a stand and say we are in favour of delivering homes.”
Green councillor Michael Pidgeon said while the councillors did lose some control by zoning land for housing, they had to consider the housing crisis. “I think it’s better to cede some control rather than jealously hold our control and govern over a desert.”
A Sinn Féin motion sought to add conditions to the rezoning, including that each site should be subject to a plan which would require at least 30 per cent of the housing to be social or affordable. However the council's law agent Yvonne Kelly said she did not believe such conditions could be carried into effect.
City manager Owen Keegan said there was a "risk of reputational damage if we just fail to exercise our function in relation to the appropriate zoning of land."
He said he understood the councillors' "serious concerns" in relation to the Strategic Housing Development system, where applications for more than 100 homes go directly to An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the council. He also understood their dissatisfaction with the ministerial guidelines on height and the lack of a windfall tax, but he said: "I don't believe they constitute an argument for not exercising our function to rezoning land more appropriately so it can make a contribution."