Writes Ciaran Dineen
A new Strategic Housing Development scheme has been proposed in the Monkstown, Passage West area by O’Brien and O’Flynn Unlimited Company. The application for a mixed-residential plan of 171 units has been sent for inspection by An Bórd Pleanála.
Strategic Housing Developments are a specific process developers must engage with if the proposed scheme is for in excess of 100 or more residential units. The first-stage of the procedure requires the applicant to engage with the relevant local authority, in this case Cork County Council and An Bórd Pleanála. Those discussions for this Monkstown SHD proposal have taken place over the last few months and the applicant has now formally applied for permission.
The application comprises of a development for 171 units which includes; 47 four-bed houses, 82 three-bed houses, 16 two-bed townhouses, a mix of 23 one and two-bed apartments in a 2-3 storey block and an additional 3 two-bed apartments in another 3 storey block. Works would also include the development of a childcare facility, provision of amenity areas and all other associated works. In compliance with Part V regulations, 34 housing units will be transferred for social housing as part of the plan, with the mix and detail of these units to be discussed with Cork County Council, on condition of approval and before the commencement of development, which consists of 7 separate phases.
The total site area covers 6.77 hectares and is located to the west of the Laurel and Carrigmahon Hill. Planning consultants McCuthcheon Halley, tasked with providing the overall strategy for the proposal, have stated that the proposed development “will promote compact growth in a location contiguous to the existing urban footprint where it can be served by public transport and walking”.
The consultants have identified various objectives of relevant statutory planning documents to help make their case for the proposal, identifying that the site location is strategically suitable given population and growth targets, with good connections to the wider Cork Metropolitan Area through the use of distributor roads and public transport.
It is proposed that the main vehicular access route to the residential area will come from Carrigmahon Hill, with an additional vehicular entrance to the southeast of the site. Concerns surrounding the development are most likely to refer to the intensification of road use on Carrigmahon Hill.
If this application is to be approved by the planning board it will have to materially contravene both the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Local Area Plan 2017 (which remains the current contemporary local area planning policy) and the Cork County Development Plan 2014-2021. A material contravention of a statutory plan arises when a planning application is made which in a material way would breach the objectives of the agreed Development Plan or Local Area Plan. The consultants recognise that there are two breaches of the proposed SHD, one relating to density targets and the other relating to carparking. The former in this case is particularly stark, with the application designed for a total of 31.3 residential units per hectare, double the zoning status of the subject site which contains objectives for Medium B density of between 12-15 units per hectare.
As part of their Material Contravention Statement, the consultants provide justifications for these breaches. They lean on planning guidelines issued to local authorities back in 2009 and a very recent circular letter from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to make their case, indicating that there is a scope to provide greater variation in housing density within smaller towns.
Councillor Marcia D’Alton commenting on the proposed SHD said that she recognised there was a need and demand for housing in the area but also noted there were concerns around infrastructure. Speaking to the Carrigdhoun, Cllr D’Alton added, “I think An Bórd Pleanála, when deciding on this application, should consider that the provision of adequate infrastructure be deemed a priority and that this would be addressed before the construction of the housing development.”
Observations on the SHD can be made by members of the public at a cost of €20 per submission within five weeks of the date An Bórd Pleanála received the application. Details of this date and more about the Monkstown SHD application can be found on An Bord Pleanála’s website.