HAS An Bord Pleanála lost the run of itself? As everyone knows there are over 9,000 vacant units in the Dublin area alone according to the latest DoE survey, and it will take years to clear.
Most of them are apartments and with prices on the floor, young buyers are switching to houses that have their own front door and no service charges.
So can we expect to see a swingback to the traditional three-bed semi in response?
Not at all, according to John O’Connor , chairperson of the Bord. He firmly rejects any attempts to revert to low density development patterns of the past, even if consumers have spoken with their cheque books.
He says this would be “ultimately wasteful of public investment and in conflict with international obligations and climate chage”.
However, he is willing to go along with some changes to existing planning permissions suggesting that they can be adjusted “within the sustainability guidelines”.
However, the bottom line is that builders with undeveloped sites in the Dublin area know quite well that they haven’t a hope in hell of selling apartments in the foreseeable future.
The punters want low level semis, whether or not the planners agree.
The planning authorities won’t be happy with this, given their huge dependence in the past on planning levies which have now virtually dried up, pushing councils into the red.
O’Connor sounds a bit like Big Brother when he points out that the planning system will have a crucial role in directing where development should be located, and the kind of development that is sustainable.
Is this the same planning system that allowed Liam Carroll to build almost 1,000 apartments in Tallaght. Come to think of it aren’t most of them still empty?
Not to mention the planning permissions given for apartments in some of the most obscure villages in the country, where the vacancy rate is also dangerously high. Not sure that we can swallow this high-minded rhetoric from the board.