Tuesday 15 May 2007

Council orders holiday home builder to provide social housing

THE developer of a luxury holiday home scheme has been ordered by the local county council to transfer one-fifth of the development for social and affordable housing.

The exact transfer arrangements and the actual price the council will pay for the units will now have to be agreed, Kerry Council officials said after yesterday's Bord Pleanala ruling.

The houses were being sold through Kenmare auctioneers Sherry Fitzgerald Daly auctioneer, with an average price of over €340,000 including VAT.

A large number of the houses are now sold. They are part of a tax-driven holiday home scheme operated by a management company on a leaseback basis for 10 years.

The developer has eight weeks to comply with the board's order.

The decision came after a dispute arose with Kerry Co Council over compliance with Part V of the planning and development Act 2000, which governs social housing provisions.

Developer Eamon McCarthy, c/o Ryan Walsh Associates of Dun Laoghaire, argued strongly that a holiday home scheme was not suitable for social and affordable housing and offered to pay financial compensation instead.

In 2005, the council granted permission for 42 semi-detached and terraced holiday homes and services buildings at Dromnevane.

A condition was that, prior to the commencement, the developer would enter into an agreement with Kerry County Council in relation to the provision of social and affordable units.

The details were not finalised before the scheme began. The developer and his agents argued the scheme was unsuitable for social housing and proposed financial compensation or land.

They argued the holiday homes were of very high quality, for transient occupation, and for owners looking for access to golf clubs, leisure centre, sailing and sports centres. In addition, the units in the scheme would be subject to management charges '"which will be expensive and rise incrementally". Such charges would not be suitable for social and affordable housing, they said.

Planning Board inspector Robert Ryan noted the area was zoned residential and was within the urban boundary. This holiday home development had a standard residential, not a clustered holiday home, appearance and there were existing housing schemes nearby, he said. He recommended that the council's request for eight units instead of cash should be acceded to.

Anne Lucey
Irish Independent

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