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Bord Pleanála blocks investors buying houses in two new schemes

An Bord Pleanála has moved to block institutional investors from purchasing houses en masse in two large scale residential schemes granted planning permission. 

In one ruling granting fast track planning permission to the Ballycullen Ltd Partnership for a €113 million 329 residential unit scheme at Woodtown, Ballycullen, in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, the appeals board has inserted a condition that all houses and duplex units in the development are to be occupied by individual purchasers.

As part of conditions attached to the permission, the appeals board said that the houses and duplex units can’t be first owned by a corporate entity.

Outlining the reason for inserting the condition, the appeals board said that the condition is in place in order to ensure that an adequate choice and supply of housing, including affordable housing, for the common good.

The Ballycullen scheme is made up of 140 terraced, semi-detached and detached homes along with 132 two-bed apartments and duplexes and 57 one-bed apartments.

The board has inserted a similar condition for the houses and duplex units in a separate Strategic Housing Development permission for 102 homes at Monivea Road in Ballybrit, Co Galway.

In that case, the appeals board has granted planning permission to Sathel Ltd for 34 duplex units, 13 houses and and 55 apartments.

The move by the board to impose the restriction that the houses and duplex homes cannot be purchased by corporate entities and only by individual purchasers follows an outcry earlier this year after it emerged that an entire housing estate in Co Kildare had been purchased by an institutional investor.

In the case of the Ballycullen scheme, the appeals board granted planning permission after its inspector in the case, Sarah Moran, concluded that the scheme generally achieves a high quality of design and finish while making the optimum use of zoned land.

Local opposition

As part of local opposition to the scheme, Dublin South West TDs John Lahart TD (FF) and Francis Noel Duffy TD (Green) lodged submissions in support of residents’ objections.

Mr Duffy said that the construction of apartment blocks two-five storeys high “is out of keeping with the existing development in the area and is excessive”. 

In his submission, Mr Lahart told An Bord Pleanála that he wished to strongly support the observations lodged on behalf of Stocking Wood Residents’ Association and Abbott Grove Residents’ Association and the master observation lodged on behalf of the wider community.

The appeals board granted planning permission in spite of planners from South Dublin County Council recommending that planning permission be refused.

The council said that the proposal development would be a material contravention of the local area plan on the grounds of height, unit mix and density.

As part of the scheme for the Dublin 16 site, the developers have put a price tag of €12.4 million on 36 units it has identified for social housing to sell to South Dublin County Council.

The average cost of each residential unit is €345,305.

Negotiations with the council aimed at reaching a final price can now take place with planning permission granted.

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