SOUTH Dublin county council wants all new homes constructed in a massive new urban development scheme to have the highest energy efficiency rating and to get 30% of their power from renewable sources.
In a draft plan for the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone in Clondalkin, released last week, the council proposed that 12,000 to 16,000 new homes in eight new neighbourhoods be constructed in the area, along with retail and office space, schools and parks.
The zone, which runs along the Grand Canal north of the Bawnogue area of Clondalkin, will be served by new railway stations to be built on the Kildare line at Fonthill and Kishoge and, in the long term, the new Metro West line, which will run through the site and is due for completion in 2014.
According to project manager Fionnula Lennon, South Dublin county council is flexible on which renewable energy sources can be used, which means combined heat and power plants, solar or wind energy could conceivably be employed by property developers.
The council is proposing that all new buildings in the zone be constructed with an A grade building energy rating, which means homes will have to use less than 50 kilowatt hours per square metre to cover typical heating, hot water, ventilation and lighting requirements for a whole year. An average house satisfying current building regulations will have a rating of about 90 kWh per square metre per annum.
This is the first time South Dublin has set such ambitious targets for a development.
"We included some aspects in the Adamstown plan but wanted to take it a further step. Essentially we are nailing our colours to the mast with this one. We believe it is the way forward, " said Lennon. She added that, should the plan prove successful, it could be a template for future strategic development plans.
Lennon said that, before finalising the plan, the local authority commissioned a consultants' report to assess the feasibility of the environmental aspects of the plan.
"We were looking to the long term, but have set targets that we believe are achievable, " Lennon said, adding that an economic assessment of the plan concluded that the environmental standards would not drastically affect the cost of construction.
The plan for the 265hectare zone will now enter a public consultation period which will end on 1 October, after which a final version of the plan will be approved.
Planning permissions granted for the area will then have to conform to the guidelines outlined in the development plan.
While South Dublin County Council has a significant land holding in the area, large tracts are also owned by property developers, including Treasury Holdings, Owen O'Callaghan and Liam Carroll.
The council said no aspect of the plan would proceed until the two new railway stations are developed. Should the rail project stay on timetable, it anticipated that construction in the area could begin on a phased basis from 2010 onwards.