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The proposed development at Milltown Park Screengrab via Sandford Planning

Planning permission granted for 667 apartments in south Dublin despite local opposition

Over 165 objections were lodged against the scheme for the former Jesuit lands at Milltown Park.

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has granted planning permission for plans for a 667 apartment scheme for Milltown Park southeast of Ranelagh village.

The decision is one of three Strategic Housing Development (SHD) rulings where the appeals board has granted ‘fast track’ planning permission for a total of 1,097 apartments in north and south Dublin in three separate contentious developments.

The appeals board has granted planning permission to Savona Ltd for a €52 million six storey 131 unit ‘build to rent’ apartment scheme for ‘Redcourt’, Seafield Road East Clontarf, despite 350 objections lodged against the scheme where local TD Sean Haughey (FF) voiced his opposition to the development.

In a third decision, An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to Clonkeen Investments DAC for the construction of 299 apartments, including 60 duplex apartments, on lands adjoining Clonkeen College on Clonkeen Road in Blackrock.

Over 90 objections were lodged against the Clonkeen proposal with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council planners recommending refusal to An Bord Pleanála on four separate grounds.

Concerning the Milltown Park scheme which includes a 10 storey ‘landmark’ apartment block at Sandford Road, Dublin 6, the appeals board has granted planning permission despite over 165 objections lodged against the scheme for the former Jesuit lands.

In 2019, Ardstone Capital paid €65 million for a 10-acre site at Milltown Park on Sandford Road, beside Gonzaga College.

The appeals board granted planning permission to Ardstone Capital subsidiary, Sandford Living Ltd after concluding that the scheme would constitute an acceptable quantum and density of development in this accessible urban location, would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area and would be acceptable in terms of height and urban design.

The scheme materially contravened the Dublin City Council Development Plan in relation to height but the appeals board stated that planning permission was justified as the application site has the potential to contribute to the Government’s achievement to increase delivery of housing from its current under-supply.

The height of the scheme reaches to 32 metres while the development plan permits only buildings 16 metres in height at ‘outer city’ locations.

In total, the original 671 apartments scheme was made up of 604 ‘build to rent’ and 67 ‘build to sell’ units across eight apartment blocks and the board reduced the scheme by four units in its permission.

Dublin Bay South TDs Ivana Bacik (Lab), Jim O’Callaghan (FF), Chris Andrews (SF) along with a number of members of Dublin City Council voiced their support of locals’ opposition against the scheme.

The objections lodged from locals also included a number from local residents’ groups.

Deputy O’Callaghan told the appeals board that the proposed development “is far too dense and unsustainable” and he supports residential development for the site but that the scale, density and height of the scheme “is excessive”.

The prominent Fianna Fáil backbencher stated that “90% of the units are being constructed on a build to let basis. This will not facilitate young families who wish to settle permanently in the area”.

In her submission, Deputy Bacik stated that issues relating to the site are predicted to have a deleterious effect on the quality of life of residents.

Deputy Andrews told the appeals board that there is “no community gain” from “a highly unsuitable, unsustainable and inappropriate development”.

One of the community organisations to oppose the scheme, the Ranelagh Village Improvement Group stated that “it is not acceptable that this development should accentuate the social divide in housing provision in Dublin and create a ghetto of transients with no community life or identity”.

The group claimed that the development “will form a destructive precedent for future developments in the Ranelagh area”.

Planners at Dublin City Council had recommended that planning permission be granted.

Commenting on the decision today, Councillor Dermot Lacey (Lab) said that he was very disappointed at An Bord Pleanála’s belief that it can break the City Development Plan and can ignore the wishes of the elected council and local community.

Board inspector in the case, Stephen Rhys Thomas stated that “a ten storey landmark building has been proposed at a key urban junction and this is appropriate…I am satisfied that a genuine attempt has been made to respect the surroundings”.

Rhys Thomas also concluded that “the proposal does not represent over-development of the site”.

Consultant for Ardstone firm and applicants Sandford Living Ltd, Patricia Thornton had argued that the subject site “is ideally suited to the provision of a residential development comprising a mix of Build-to-Sell and Built-to-Rent units”.

The 154 page planning report states that “the Build-to-Rent element of the scheme will provide rental options in the area whilst the Build-to-Sell units will provide an opportunity for people to purchase dwellings within the scheme and as such the scheme will cater for a wide cohort of persons”.

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