Monday 8 November 2010

Council selling homes below cost on golf land

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council stands to lose millions when it sells apartments that it bought from developer Cosgraves at the height of the boom

SIXTY-THREE cut-price apartments go on sale from €136,000 today in Dún Laoghaire aimed at buyers on the affordable housing list and first-time buyers.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCOCO) is taking a serious hit after agreeing to pay developer Cosgraves an average €250,000 – a price agreed in 2006, at the height of the boom – for the one and two-bedroom social and affordable apartments on the grounds of the former Dún Laoghaire Golf Club. It will lose 24 per cent or more on each affordable unit.

The apartments are being sold at prices from €136,000, by far the lowest in the area. Affordable buyers – those who are on the council’s affordable housing list – will get priority, but the units are also available on the open market at €170,000. First-time buyers will also get priority.

Two-beds will cost buyers on the council’s affordable list from €184,000, while open market buyers will pay from €230,000 for the same units. Lisney is handling the sales.

The council will allocate the remaining 80 apartments (of a total 143) in the circular complex – which faces onto a central courtyard with a small toddlers’ playground and a set of stairs leading to an underground car park – to people on its social housing list.

The scheme, called Honeypark, is the first phase of a large development planned by Cosgraves on the 78-acre golf club lands where it has permission to build a mix of 840 units. This phase is just beside the roundabout at the junction of Glenageary Road Upper and Kill Avenue.

It is coveniently located: Mounttown Road Lower runs straight down from the roundabout to the town of Dún Laoghaire while Oliver Plunkett Road leads from the roundabout to Monkstown Avenue. There is a 45A and 75 bus stop right at the gates, and the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) is nearby on Kill Avenue. A shuttle bus from the scheme to Dún Laoghaire Dart station is promised.

The Cosgrave Group plans to put houses in the scheme on sale in spring 2011. “We are immediately commencing our next phase of the development which will comprise a park, local retail centre and four and five-bedroom family homes, which we expect to launch in early spring,” Peter Cosgrave said yesterday. The company is in negotiations with an anchor tenant for the neighbourhood shopping centre to be built on Glenageary Road Upper near the Kill Avenue roundabout.

Five terraced townhouses beside the entrance to the scheme – they are on a road that will eventually extend right through it – will be finished by Christmas but are not yet for sale.

The apartments are in 10 adjacent four-storey “core blocks”, each core having between 12 and 16 apartments, its own entrance and its own lift to the basement. The units are a good size and come with patios at ground level or good-sized balconies above.

In the four affordable blocks, balconies are at the back, looking out over the tree-filled site stretching up towards Rochestown Avenue. (Many of the trees will presumably come down to make way for Honeypark’s expansion.)

The units are a decent size: one-bed apartments range from 48.3-59.5sq m (520-640sq ft), the two-beds from 71-764sq m (764-813sq ft). Good-sized entrance halls open into open-plan livingrooms where kitchens are at one side of the room. Appliances aren’t included but kitchens come with tiled counter-tops, a good range of cabinets and tiled floors. In the show units, the floors throughout are oak and doors are oak-veneer. Bathrooms have white sanitary ware, fully tiled floors, showers over baths. Main double bedrooms have a fitted wardrobe. In the hall, there are also shelved storage cupboards and more storage space in walk-in cupboards where heat exchange system units are housed.

Cosgraves is proud of its communal – although individually-controlled – gas-fired central heating /water heating system all generated from a modest-sized boiler in the underground car park.

It expects BER ratings of B1 to A3 and says that homeowners should have low heating bills, around €450 a year for one-beds to €600 for two-beds. (It bases this estimate on bills in another Cosgrave development, Landsdowne Gate; it expects bills in Honeypark will be 10 per cent cheaper, as it has perfected its heating systems. It also has a ventilation system removing stale air without opening windows through ceiling-mounted grilles .

Each apartment comes with a car-parking space.

The management fees are €1,456 for two-bedroom apartments and just over €1,000 for one-beds. A management company has been set up.

Purchasers who have been refused mortgage finance from lending agencies may qualify for the Council’s Home Purchase Loan scheme.

What's available and who can buy it

DÚN Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCOCO) has about 80 apartments for sale under its affordable housing scheme in eight different developments around the county, at prices ranging from €128,000 for one-beds in the Belfry and Belarmine in Stepaside, Co Dublin to €248,000 for a two-bed in Beacon South Quarter in Sandyford, Dublin 18. It has sold about 75 affordable homes so far this year.

These apartments are also for sale on the open market at prices around 20 per cent over those affordable prices. Lisney is handling all the sales for the council.

DLRCOCO currently has 1,900 people on its affordable housing list, and information about the 63 new apartments going on sale today at the Honeypark scheme has already been texted to them.

Roughly speaking, people earning less than €58,000 a year qualify to buy affordable housing in Dún Laoghaire – the rules governing eligibility for affordable housing vary from one local authority to another. In Dún Laoghaire, the rules take into account after-tax income and other individual factors.

If a property is sold within 20 years of buying it, DLRCOCO will clawback 20 per cent of the proceeeds – unless that brings the amount below the price paid.

DLRCOCO is committed to buying another 27 social and affordable units from Cosgrave Developments in this phase of the Honeypark scheme, but there’s no agreement yet on when they will be built or available.

An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for 848 houses and apartments to be built in the first phase of the development on this part of the site, the south side of Glenageary Road Upper, in 2008.

Another 20 per cent of the 605 houses and apartments to be built in the second phase of the Cosgrave scheme should be given to the council for social/affordable housing.

But although An Bord Pleanála gave the developer planning permission in August this year to build the second phase planned – on the north side of Glenageary Road Upper, closer to the town – it is likely to be a long time before anything is built there. In all, a total of 1,500 houses and apartments are planned on the golf club lands.

Under planning laws, developers must provide 20 per cent of any residential development to local authorities for social and affordable housing at a discount from market prices. But after the property crash, most local authorites found themselves with affordable homes that cost them more than the new lower market prices.

Golf green gives way to housing

THE redevelopment of the Dún Laoghaire Golf Club site has proved controversial since the Cosgrave Property Group bought it in 2002. From the beginning, many local residents opposed the plan to cover the 78-acre green space, bisected by Glenageary Road Upper, with housing.

But in 2002, golf club members agreed to sell the land in exchange for €20 million and a new course in Enniskerry.

The site – 47 acres on the south side of the road, where Honeypark has been built, and 31 on the north side bordered by Tivoli Road – was controversially rezoned in 2004 after then Minister for the Environment Martin Cullen issued a directive to the council to do so to provide extra housing. And permission was ultimately granted for around 1,400 houses and apartments, despite rows between locals in favour of the status quo and a council insisting that it had to provide for Dún Laoghaire’s future housing needs. The developer’s plans for the site also include a public park, green spaces and a creche.

Controversy continued this year, when mature trees on Glenageary Road Upper were cut down to make way for road widening for the new scheme. Right now, the junction with the Kill Avenue roundabout is a bewildering tangle of barriers and yield signs. But people wishing to view Honeypark will be able to drive in through a clearly marked entrance from today, says selling agent Lisney.

Irish Times

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