Developers join forces to oppose proposed 97% hike in Cherrywood council contributions

Group including Cairn Homes and Johnny Ronan’s RGRE say levy would amount to €37,820 per new home in Cherrywood area

A crane at a residential construction site in Sandyford, south Dublin, Ireland, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The mass purchase of affordable houses — on the market for about 400,000 euros ($490,000) — set off a public firestorm and highlights the growing tension over the squeeze in urban housing and the role of large investors. Photographer: Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Bloomberg

A number of prominent developers have called on the Office of the Planning Regulator to intervene in draft council proposals to almost double developer contributions to €37,820 for new homes in the Cherrywood area in south Dublin.

In a letter to the planning regulator on behalf of a number of Cherrywood developers and landowners, Stephen Little of Stephen Little & Associates said his clients “were taken aback at the scale of the proposed increases” for developer contributions for new homes for the draft Cherrywood Special Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme for 2023 to 2028.

The developers and Cherrywood landowners include Johnny Ronan’s Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE), Cairn Homes, Hines APG, Quintain Ireland and Jackson Way Property.

In his formal complaint, Mr Little said the levies proposed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Council will mean that the developer contribution per residential unit for Cherrywood will increase from €19,195 to €37,820 – a jump of 97 per cent.

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Mr Little argued that this “represents an unprecedented and totally unjustifiable level of increase”.

He warned that if the increase is ratified, it will lead to unintended consequences, whereby either development projects in Cherrywood will be stalled or halted indefinitely, or the extra costs will have to be borne by home purchasers.

“We do not believe it to be either equitable or transparent to ask the general public to pay significant additional costs, without the necessary detail as to how they have been calculated,” he said.

He also argued that a levy that amounts to 4.5 times the median anywhere else in the State could not reasonably be considered to be consistent with Government guidelines.

“We respectfully request that the regulator investigates this very important matter,” he said.

The council’s published draft levy scheme states that a significant shortfall remains in the funds required for public infrastructure for the 360-hectare Cherrywood area.

The new levy scheme will address and bridge the residual funding shortfall, it said, noting that if the shortfall were to remain unresolved, the Cherrywood Planning Scheme could be delayed significantly or halted.

The council estimates that the developer contributions will fund €118 million of the €251 million required to fund public infrastructure required for the Cherrywood Planning Area.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times