Council has ‘no regard’ for us, Nenagh residents claim
Residents of Nenagh’s Springfort Meadows estate claim Tipperary Co Council has disregarded them in trying to “put scores on the board” with its ambitious social housing construction programme.
The council recently granted planning permission for 18 houses in the estate, despite receiving several objections from local residents. An appeal on behalf of the residents has now been made to An Bord Pleanála in the name of Patrick Devenny. It sets out a range of objections to the new houses, based on perceived loss of public open space; increased housing density; disproportionate mix of private, social and affordable housing; and incompatible design, among other concerns.
The highly-detailed appeal traces the background of the situation back to 2001 when Nenagh Construction Company sought to develop an estate of 124 houses. Mr Devenny submitted that the developer’s Part V obligation, which at the time was to provide 10% of the units for social housing, was met in full.
Following the recession, Limerick-based company Singland Homes Ltd purchased the undeveloped land and set about adding more units to Springfort Meadows.
A number of planning applications followed, with local residents appealing to An Bord Pleanála over such concerns as housing density, loss of green space and traffic problems. This culminated in Singland Homes making two new applications for separate phases of 19 and 18 houses.
In June 2021, the council sought expressions of interest for the provision of social housing units as turnkey developments.
“Unsurprisingly,” Mr Devenny submitted, “Singland Homes responded to this request as they already had 19 units suitable for social housing based on the Phase 1 planning permission they received”.
The developer then sought and received planning permission for a second phase of 18 units.
MEETING WITH COUNCIL
“With the support of our local town councillors and local TD Jackie Cahill, a meeting was organised with the Housing section in Tipperary County Council on April 11 for the residents committee to raise our concerns about the 19-unit turnkey development and our fears that Tipperary County Council would run another eTenders expression of interest for the provision of additional social housing units as another turnkey development,” the submission to An Bord Pleanála reads.
“At that meeting, the representative from the Housing section in Tipperary County Council confirmed that they do intend to run another expression of interest via eTenders for the provision of additional social housing units shortly, but that they would have no way of knowing who may reply to such a tender.
“Our expectation is that Singland Homes will again respond to the proposed eTenders request for the provisioned social housing, as they already have 18 units suitable for social housing.”
‘SURPRISED AND CONCERNED’
The submission goes to state that maximum available public open space in the estate is just 12% when planning requirements stipulate a minimum of 15%.
“We are surprised and concerned that Tipperary County Council granted planning permission for the proposed 18 units, given that they themselves clearly stipulated that the 15% minimum requirement must be met, and it is evident from the data that [it] is impossible for any developer to meet the 15% public open space requirement as the land simply does not exist,” Mr Devenny submitted.
The residents’ information was that the council owns eight of the 97 finished houses in their estate. If the 19 turnkey units are used for social housing, it would result in over 23% of all units in the estate being used for this purpose.
And, if the 18 newly-approved units are used for the same purpose, this would represent 33.6% of all units in the estate being used for social housing, “which again is way in excess of normal best practice planning guidelines”.
“Would the same non-compliance with standard planning rules and regulations have happened if Tipperary County Council were not the beneficiaries of the approval of these planning application [s] to put scores on the board for the delivery of social housing units, regardless of the impact on the residents of Springfort Meadows?” the submission asks.
“It is clear that Tipperary County Council have no regard for the residents of Springfort Meadows and are quite happy to ignore best planning practice, so they can meet Government targets on social housing to the detriment of the quality of life and social cohesion of the people who live in Springfort Meadows.”
The residents believed the provision of such numbers of social houses would “immediately impose long-term negative equity on the working families of Springfort Meadows, by inflicting a disproportionate level of social housing well above any accepted norms on a private residential estate that has already met its Part V social obligation”.
The submission concludes with graphics showing the anticipated layout of the new houses, the design of which is not in keeping with the existing dwellings in the estate. The residents also submitted that the additional vehicles generated would only worsen a situation “where parking is already challenging”.
An Bord Pleanála is to consider all submissions and rule on the case by August 29.