Below is a catch-up on the stories that caught my attention earlier in the week, together with some of the industry stories from across the broadsheets today. There is more industry news than usual this week so, I recommend heading outdoors for your reading today – bring coffee!
As always, you might let me know if I have missed out on any relevant property news by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Apologies in advance for any typos, it’s difficult to get good help on a Sunday!)
Fairness and transparency still missing from our planning system
According to Mark Tighe in The Sunday Times today, the High Court is to quash a ministerial order made by the Department of Housing, signed by Damien English, that would have blocked a development in Kildare while approving a separate project on separate lands locally, put forward by different developer.
This is quite an interesting case and it is one that is surprising to see in modern planning. Longport Developments (Damien Donegan) owned land that was zoned for residential use and was planning to build 270 much-needed new homes. This zoning was changed last November by ministerial order to ‘open space and amenity’. At the same time, Damien English signed off on another order to change the zoning of other lands near Celbridge from ‘strategic open space’ to town centre’.
The High Court found that the decision-making process for the ministerial orders did not fully comply with fair procedures and, as such, the ministerial orders would be quashed. This ruling, in relation to the latter ministerial order, is to be dealt with further by way of application later this week, as the owners (Devondale – Brian Durkin) with a beneficial interest in the lands near Celbridge seek time to appeal.
In any event, this case throws light on the persistent lack of transparency and fairness within the planning system and inadequacies of the public consultation and public engagement process. Fianna Fáil TD for North Kildare, Frank O’Rourke was strong in his support for the quashing of these orders and he is quoted in the article as calling this is “an excellent victory for local democracy groups” that had opposed the latter development (not Longport’s plans) on the grounds that it would negatively affect the landscape and setting of Castletown House.
He went on to say that “This ruling should send a clear message to the minister and his officials that they should not be interfering with local area plans and local democracy.”
*There is a pilot programme running from September 2018 to May 2019, which is trialling the use of emerging technologies to enhance positive community engagement throughout the planning process in a way that works for both the developers and the community (feedback and collaboration rather than the existing objection model). Interested developers can register for details at email@example.com
Other property news
- Stamp duty and shortage of workers put pressure on building industry – Report shows more than 80 per cent of building companies are having problems recruiting surveyors and commercial managers: https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/business/commercial-property/stamp-duty-and-shortage-of-workers-put-pressure-on-building-industry-1.3480759?mode=amp
- House building recovery ‘could create 2,000 jobs in hardware sector’ – Sales have recovered strongly, outperforming retail sales, hardware lobby group says: https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/business/retail-and-services/housebuilding-recovery-could-create-2-000-jobs-in-hardware-sector-1.3480191?mode=amp
- One of Ireland’s largest developers wants another crack at building 900 homes in south Dublin – Developer Michael Cotter lodged a fresh bid to build his Ballyogan residential project this week: https://fora.ie/park-developments-cotter-ballyogan-3990126-May2018/
- Could €2,000 shipping containers help solve Ireland’s housing crisis? https://m.independent.ie/life/home-garden/could-2000-shipping-containers-help-solve-irelands-housing-crisis-36852035.html
- How do you get a city ready to have an extra 85,000 people in it? – The time is ticking for Cork City Council and Cork County Council to get ready for the city’s expansion: http://www.thejournal.ie/cork-city-transfer-3974908-Apr2018/
- Dublin’s Dream Dart Underground Hit With Crushing Blow – Absolutely devastating news: https://lovindublin.com/dublin/dublin-underground-metro-10-years
- ‘It’s our time and money that went into the school’ – Sub-contractors ‘owed thousands’ after Carillion collapse – UK construction giant Carillion collapses, causing knock-on effect for Irish group Sammon: https://m.independent.ie/irish-news/its-our-time-and-money-that-went-into-the-school-subcontractors-owed-thousands-after-carillion-collapse-36839565.html
- I understand that the sale of Trinity Street car park in Dublin 2 to Gerry Conlon has now completed for a purchase price believed to be approx. 23.5 million euro.
- Data centres have dominated property market and construction activity discussions over the past few years, and particularly in recent months. The lead story in the Business & Money section of the Times today has Gavin Daly reporting that CyrusOne is looking to buy 20 acres of land, in and around Dublin, for a €300 million project that will employ up to 220 people.
- Philip Connolly in The Sunday Times writes that developer PJ McGrath, who I mentioned here a few weeks ago as the likely rescue vehicle for Sammon Contracting, is planning to construction almost 360 apartments in Dublin.
- Michael Cotter’s Park Developments has now submitted plans for 355 new houses and 572 new apartments at Clay Farm, Carrickmines.
- Also, Dubai-based Aidan Gallagher has, according to Philip Connolly in the Times, begun a consultation with An Bord Pleanála to build 250 apartments on a site as Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines.
- Niall Brady has an in-depth piece on Moralltach Global plc., a Wexford-based, Malta-registered, Australia-listed investment group. The groups has a portfolio of 38 properties/projects all around Ireland valued at 650 million euro.
- Lorcan Sirr’s column (once again) is on the discrepancy of housing figures – no one seems to be able to agree on these. It is certainly worrying that we do not know the answer to this vital and simple question. How, in a time of genuine crisis, do we not know how many homes we are building and/or bring back into use? To be clear, I have zero interest in the academic figures, the important figures are the number of units rendered available to the marketplace. It is implausible to believe that we do not have independent figures for these….
- I am not going to include all the opinion pieces and commentary columns on homelessness figures in the Sunday papers, suffice to say, there are many. All I will say is that the minster’s proposal to cut non-nationals from our homelessness figures is the equivalent of me stuffing visa statements behind the sofa cushions – not very effective and doesn’t change the reality of the situation.
- In the Sunday Independent, Niamh Horan has “The all-new trophy home wish list for 2018”, including: walk-in wardrobes, “fabulous” French furnishings, marble tables, amazing kitchens, white marble counter-tops, steam showers, big windows, sliding doors and garden rooms so that BBQs are no longer weather dependent. Oh, and apparently “IKEA is gone”!
- Fearghal O’Connor reports in the Sunday Independent today that Tesco and Lidl have both sought permission to add more retail space in Dublin “despite an uncertain retail environment”.
- Ronan Lyons, in his column this week writes that the “rental gap between supply and demand in countrywide”. He is referring to the latest Daft.ie Rental Report, published last week and showing market rentals nationwide – including in rent pressure zones – continue to rise on average 10%, which is clearly unsustainable. Rents in Ireland have risen an average of 70% over the past 5 years. His parting words are “the mantra must be: supply, supply, supply”.
- The lead story in The Sunday Business Post today is ‘Banks, property giants and multinationals to be targeted in new tax report’, by Hugh O’Connell and Jack Horgan-Jones. Apparently, the Public Accounts Committee is calling for changes to our corporate tax system and recommends a review of overseas property investors’ tax structures. This report has not yet been published and is expected to be discussed by the committee over the coming weeks.
- Michael Brennan reports that three Dublin sites owned by DIT – Cathal Bruges Street, Kevin Street and Rathmines – are to be offered to the market this year to fund the development of the new campus at Grangegorman.
- Jack Horgan-Jones reports that British firm, Yew Grove Reit, has been “quietly” acquiring Irish property and is closing in on a 100 million euro flotation.
- Civil engineering and construction services companies Denis Moriarty the Kerries Ltd and Moriarty Civil Engineering Ltd have emerged successfully from examinership.
- Hugh O’Connell has an interview with FF spokesperson on housing, Darragh O’Brien, who I mentioned last week is pledging to opposite the help-to-buy scheme in Budget 2019. Also, diverging from the position his predecessor took, he will not be seeking a VAT reduction (temporary or otherwise) for the construction industry, which is disappointing and nonsensical in the current environment. Effectively, we believes that the solutions will come from greater state involvement – personally, I could not disagree more, we need the state to get out of its own way when it comes to the delivery of housing, but let’s see what happens in the run up to Budget 2019.
- The Move section of the Times today has an article on house-swapping for those who are
- looking for a more experiential summer holiday this year! Check out page 7 for tips to help get this right and for traps to avoid.
- Karl Deeter has an infinitely sensible column in The Sunday Business Post today ‘Working for the cure, but feeding the disease: Providing housing to people exiting homelessness needs to be much easier, or no landlords will do it’. He describes the case of a landlord who made the decision to accept less rent in order to take a potential tenant out of homelessness – a worthy intention you might say. However, he was apparently hit with overly burdensome, offline, administration and form-filling. The inspection process was intense and the well-meaning landlord was then hit with an inspection report that demanded the infractions be set right within weeks or he would face fines up to 5,000 euro and potential jail time. This is a ridiculous way to treat a landlord who is trying to do right, to the detriment of his pocket. Karl closes by remarking “…you shouldn’t turn doing the right thing into the wrong thing by making that process one they won’t ever repeat”. This makes so much sense.
· “The Great House Revival” on RTÉ One starts tonight at 9.30pm!
- The largest global proptech conference took place in London earlier in the week. It was great to see so many Irish estate agents and start-ups attend. There were too many great presentations and panel discussions to share all here, however, I will try to synopsise the key industry insights and highlights and share them over the next few weeks through Proptech Ireland, http://prop-tech.ie/. In the meantime, here is Antony Slumbers setting out some use cases for AI (artificial technology) in property: “You cannot be a fast follower, you need to be an innovator” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isZflK83Dv4&feature=youtu.be
- Congratulations to CEO Lucinda Kelly and the Popertee team who made it into the top 25 proptech start-ups in Europe through the Real Estate Innovation Network, fingers crossed for the finals in Munich this October! This conference coincides with OktoberFest and it would be great to see a strong Irish contingent there.
- Smart tech changes in the Irish commercial property market: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/property/smart-tech-changes-in-property-market-839264.html
- To keep up-to-date on all things tech and innovation for the planning, construction and property industries, head over to http://www.prop-tech.ie, the national resource website for innovators, investors and mentors or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Property Insiders Guide
As many of you might know, my annual property book The Irish Property Buyers’ Handbook (since 2011) has undergone a rebrand for 2018 and will now appear as part of The Property Insider series, published by Oak Tree Press, the first three titles are now published and available here.