Friday 20 January 2017

The first distillery in 175 years has been cleared for construction in Donegal

PLANNING PERMISSION HAS been granted to Sliabh Liag Distillery to build the first distillery in Donegal for 175 years.
Earlier this month An Bord Pleanála approved the application for the development, which will be built in the picturesque mountains near Carrick and include a visitor centre. Building on the main distillery is expected to start at the end of 2017, according to James Doherty, Sliabh Liag Distillery’s chief executive.

'Use it or lose it' clause needed to deliver homes

The figures from the Department of Housing suggest it's time for a 'use it or lose it' clause to be included when planning permission is granted. It beggars belief that in the midst of a national housing crisis, which is particularly acute in the capital, that so few homes are being delivered. In the first 10 months of last year, just under 11,800 homes were built nationally. This figure is unlikely to exceed 15,000 when the final tallies are complete, at a time when a minimum of 25,000 are needed. But while some developers have suggested the planning system is to blame for the lack of new homes coming onto the market, the official Government figures from the Department of Housing suggest there are more profound problems. There is no planning reason why 23,746 units across 331 sites in the capital are not being built to help address rising prices, inflating rents and bringing the homeless crisis to an end. Sources suggest a lack of finance and the imposition of development levies and high building costs, particularly the imposition of VAT on new homes, is hampering delivery. This is a problem particularly prevalent in construction of apartments.

Opposition to proposed Castleknock Lidl mounts

Leo Varadkar ‘disappointed’ by granting of approval for supermarket in the Dublin suburb of Castleknock. The planning permission for the proposed Lidl supermarket also includes approval for a medical centre and a number of other shops. Opposition appears to be mounting in Castleknock to this proposal.

Unite union sought social housing exemption for former Dublin HQ

A trust connected to the trade union Unite applied to be exempted from social housing for a development at its former headquarters on Merrion Square in Dublin while one of its top officials was planning the occupation of Apollo House in the city centre last month.
Unite's application for a Social Housing Exemption Cert was granted by Dublin City Council on 16 December, the day after its official Brendan Ogle gained access to Apollo House to begin a four-week occupation by homeless people and volunteers.
A group called Hands Off The Homeless, which held a demonstration outside the building, have reacted angrily to news it was lying empty during the occupation of Apollo House.

RTE News

Why Aren’t the Council’s Own Sites on Its Vacant Sites Register?

Dublin City Council officials have known since 2015 that they would have to put together a vacant sites register by 1 January 2017.
So when that register appeared online that day, and it was entirely blank, some were dismayed.
“It seems to me they could have started this whole process in the middle of last year,” said Green Party Councillor Ciaran Cuffe.
“We knew this legislation was passed by the Dáil over a year ago, so they could have worked on it before now.”

What about the Council’s Land?

Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, each local authority is required to establish and maintain a register of sites that were, in the local authority’s opinion, vacant for the preceding year.
The measure is aimed at tackling vacancy by listing the owners of vacant sites, and serving them with an annual levy of 3 percent of the market value of the site.
That includes council land, but Dublin City Council didn’t include its own vacant properties on the vacant site register it published earlier this month. It’s unclear why.
The minimum size requirement for a site to be placed on the register is 0.05 hectares. Of 112 sites owned by Dublin City Council in the city, 85 are this size or larger, according to a list given to People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh.
Cuffe said that information on the council’s own vacant properties would be clearly available. “I gave [Dublin City Council Chief Executive] Owen Keegan a list of city-council owned properties over a year ago,” he says.
“We should have taken our own sites and included them on the register at this stage, but there may be a reluctance to do that from senior management,” he said.
Dublin City Council’s press office has yet to respond to queries relating to the listing of its own properties on the register, why they didn’t list them, and what prevented them starting the whole process earlier.
When asked after Monday’s monthly council meeting at City Hall, Assistant Chief Executive Declan Wallace didn’t give a direct answer as to why the council’s sites hadn’t been loaded up onto the vacant site register yet.
The council is “a big organisation”, said Wallace. “Different pieces of land are internally owned by housing, by development, by parks, by a whole range of interests.”
They will be loaded up, he said.

Looking Bad

Cuffe says there are plenty of vacant sites the council could have inspected and determined the owners of prior to publishing their register.
“I think it’s an own goal, not just by Dublin City Council, but by all four local authorities,” he says. “I mean you couldn’t make this up.”
It could have at least more details explaining the complexities of the process, said Cuffe.
Cuffe wrote to Chief Executive Owen Keegan about the vacant vacant sites register. It takes time to determine which sites to place on the register, Keegan replied, in an email to Cuffe.
“It is also a requirement of the Act that for a site to be entered on the Register the Council must be satisfied that it has been vacant for the preceding 12 months,” he wrote. “Details of ownership, title to the site and the market value pertaining to the site must also be ascertained.”
Information on the ownership of a site and its market value, wrote Keegan, “is not always readily available and it can be time consuming and labour intensive to get the required information”.
So, the problem could be a resource issue within the council, said Cuffe – a suspicion shared by Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.
“Part of the problem for local-authority staff, given the amount of cutbacks over the last number of years, is that they do what they have to do today and their isn’t sufficient time to do what you can put off until tomorrow,” says Lacey.
That’s an issue that has come up in relation to the slow progress on social housing projects, too.
Lacey says Dublin City Council no longer has the number of planning and architectural staff it once had. Because of this, he’s willing to be patient with the filling in of the vacant sites register.
“I would be prepared to give the council the month of January to produce the register,” he says. “I got the impression that there was a sense that we want to be really careful about this because if a site goes on public display that is not owned by the person they say it’s owned by, or if it’s under the size, or if there’s an active planning permission being pursued on it, it could discredit the whole process in the early stages.”
But it will likely take longer than the rest of January to fill in the register.
In reply to the Green Party’s Cuffe, Keegan wrote that the council intends to write to the owners of 60 properties in the inner city by mid-January, “giving them the required notice of our intention to place their properties on the Register”.
Owners then have 28 days to appeal the council’s decision to place their property on the register to An Bord Pleanála.

Resources and Outreach

As Cuffe sees it, there are two takeaway lessons from publishing the blank register. Sufficient resources need to be put in place to tackle vacant sites, and the council management has to communicate better with councillors and the public, he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McAuliffe says that tackling derelict sites is also part of that. The public want to see progress, he said.
In his letter to Cuffe, Keegan said council management are “reviewing out [our?] very conservative approach” in determining whether a building or site is derelict – something he’s been saying for a while.
At Monday’s council meeting, Labour Councillor Mary Freehill said that councillors were told some time ago how much vacant land there was in the city, and that she wanted regular updates on the progress of the register and levy.
“I’m earnestly asking you that you make all the resources available,” she said. “This is absolutely essential to supply.”
Says Cuffe: “I find it frustrating and I think we need to up our game in terms of communication as a council, and incidents like this don’t help.”

Dublin Inquirer

News Florentine Centre gets planning Go-Ahead

Planning permission has been granted to Wicklow County Council by An Bord Pleanala for a 13000m2 retail and cinema development at the heart of Bray’s Main Street.  The development is estimated to cost €24M.
The Cathaoirleach Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Fitzgerald,  welcomed the decision and looked forward to the realisation of this scheme which has been foremost on the agenda of local councillors for 20 years and which will have a hugely beneficial  impact on Bray as a town.
The Cathaoirleach of Bray Municipal District, Cllr Steven Matthews, expressed his satisfaction with the decision saying:  We could not have picked a better time to come to the market with this project”.
 This site has been the subject of three previous  planning applications by Ballymore Properties. After a number of false starts, the site reverted to use as a car park five years ago. Bray Town Council acquired the site in late 2013 and the Wicklow County Council appointed team, led by Des O’Brien, Bray Municipal District Manager, has brought it to the planning stage and is now in the process of engaging  with potential development partners.
The development will be built around a new pedestrianised street which will open up from the Main Street and end in a public space.  The new street will comprise of two anchor stores of 3,000 and 1,000 square metres respectively, 8 retail units totalling 3,449 square metres and  3 restaurants totalling 545 square metres,  a 5 screen multiplex cinema and undercroft parking.
The final design configuration will be determined by the retail mix and the requirements of the occupiers. The principal aim of the scheme is to complement the existing retail offering and to reinvigorate the shopping experience in Bray. The presence of the cinema and restaurants will add vibrancy to the town’s evening economy, which is of significance to Bray as a Purple Flag town.
Wicklow County Council, Chief Executive, Mr Bryan Doyle, added: “ This will reinforce the role of the Town Centre as the key meeting and shopping place for the citizens of Bray, now that we have the green light we hope that we will see the new development open in  2019”.

Lidl overcomes opposition to win new store go-ahead

German discount retail giant Lidl has overcome opposition from independent retailers' body RGDATA to secure planning for a new store at Greystones in Co Wicklow.
This follows An Bord Pleanála granting Lidl the go-ahead for the store in spite of opposition from RGDATA, local school Temple Caraig and Councillor Derek Mitchell (FG).
The decision by An Bord Pleanála followed Lidl opening its 150th store here last month with new stores at Glenageary in Dublin and Virginia in Co Cavan.

Irish Independent

Judicial challenge to Dún Laoghaire Harbour plan

THE Save Our Seafront group was granted leave by the High Court last week to challenge a decision by An Bord Pleanála to approve cruise ship docking in Dún Laoghaire Harbour.
Mr Justice Max Barrett granted the group leave to judicially review the board’s decision on a number of grounds and adjourned the matter until January 31.
Last year planning permission was granted for the controversial multi-million plan to develop the harbour.
The new cruise berth is aiming to attract super cruise liners, which are restricted from docking in or near the capital due to a lack of capacity.
After several delays An Bord Pleanála eventually gave the €18 million cruise berth project the green light with several extensive conditions.
But Save our Seafront claimed that while last November’s decision by An Bord Pleanála restricted the size of ships accessing the harbour, it could still result in a significant loss of amenity to existing harbour users.
The chairman of Save Our Seafront, local TD Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP), claimed that the board’s decision did not properly take into account the environmental implications of dredging and other aspects of the plan.
 “We applied for a judicial review in order to protect Dún Laoghaire Harbour for the people and the natural environment,” Deputy Boyd Barret stated.
“A giant cruise berth in Dún Laoghaire Harbour would negatively impact on all users of the harbour - walkers, boat users and the varied wildlife.
“Our harbour is a wonderfully historic and cultural asset and should be developed to enhance all aspects of our harbour rather than limiting it to giant cruise ships.”
Senator Victory Boyhan, a former Dún Laoghaire Rathdown county councillor, strongly argued against granting planning permission for a super-size cruise ship terminal in the harbour.
He stated: “It was the (An Bord Pleanana’s) inspector’s opinion that the sensitivity of the harbour having regard to its architectural heritage, social importance, recreational value and its proximity to designated sites of European importance were not taken into sufficient consideration.”
A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanála said they did not comment on cases that are the subject of a judicial review.
“In fact, the board has a firm practice of avoiding comment on cases that it has decided,” the spokesperson said. “This is to do with the quasi-judicial nature of the work.”

Dublin People

Planning approval granted for €30m retail scheme in Bray

Planning permission for the development of a 250,000 square foot retail scheme in the heart of Bray, Co. Wicklow has been granted by An Bord Pleanála.

Property consultants, Savills have been appointed by Wicklow County Council to seek a development partner to progress the project. The site, previously known as the ‘Florentine Centre’, has been the subject of a number of retail-led development proposals since 1996.
Wicklow County Council – who recently purchased the site – sought the approval of An Bord Pleanála for a scaled down retail development providing opportunities for anchor stores, retail units, restaurants, offices, cinema and associated car parking.
The plans also incorporate the development of a new urban street – accessed from Bray Main Street – and a central plaza with pedestrian access from Quinsborough Road.

The gross development value (GDV) of the scheme is estimated at approximately €30m and Savills aim to have a development partner and contractor in place by March 2017, with a view to a scheme completion by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Director at Savills Ireland, Larry Brennan commented, "We are delighted with An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for the development of this exciting new retail scheme, which we believe will transform the retail and evening economy of Bray, where the main street would benefit from larger restaurants, larger retail units and leisure offerings. The recovering retail economy is now supporting real occupier demand, which can offer favourable returns to the appropriate development partner."

Public asked to submit views on College Green plaza

New civic plaza in city centre not expected to be in place before end of 2018 at earliest. Dublin City Council is calling on members of the public to get in touch with their views on the re-development of College Green into a new civic plaza. The council has opened an online survey to hear the views of the public ahead of submitting plans to An Bord Pleanála for approval. While the proposed €8 million pedestrian and cycle plaza for College Green is not expected to be in place before the end of 2018, the council is about to appoint a design team to develop proposals for the new civic space and is looking for ideas from the wider public.

Scheme to draw first-time buyers to towns and villages

First-time buyers and young families are to get a grant to renovate vacant properties as part of a scheme to revitalise rural towns and villages. Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys wants people to return to live in rural centres and will be introducing the scheme on a pilot basis. Promoting education, job creation and improving infrastructure and transport links throughout the country will also be included in Ms Humphreys’ action plan for rural development, due to be published early in the new year.

Irish Examiner

Cork incinerator decision postponed for a third time

A decision on the fate of a controversial incinerator proposed for the lower Cork Harbour area has been postponed for the third time. An Bord Pleanála was due to reach a decision on the €160 million Indaver project by January 24, having missed two previous due-dates on July 12 and again on October 26 last. However when contacted by the Irish Examiner, a spokesperson for the planning board said: “A decision is not imminent.”

Irish Examiner