The recent decision by members of Fingal County Council to approve the disposal of land at Ballymastone, Donabate is the latest milestone for an innovative model that is set to increase the mechanisms open to local authorities for housing delivery.
Fingal have developed a local authority-driven delivery model in which they will partner with Glenveagh Living Ltd to deliver an exemplar sustainable mixed tenure housing development of up to 1,200 homes in Ballymastone. Community, recreational and educational facilities will also be provided along with improved transport links and public open spaces.
The tenure mix will be 20 per cent social housing, 20 per cent affordable housing and 60 per cent private housing and the first homes could be ready for delivery in 2022 as there is a commitment in the Development Agreement to be on site within 16 weeks of planning permission being granted.
The Development Agreement between the Council and Glenveagh includes the guaranteed delivery of two and three-bedroom affordable homes to first time buyers at a unit cost of €250,000 to €270,000.
Following concerns raised by councillors ahead of the disposal of the land for the project, Glenveagh provided an undertaking that no houses will be sold to institutional investors and that 50 per cent of the designated private apartment blocks within the development will be offered for sale to bodies who are permitted to offer cost rental accommodation to tenants, pursuant to the State support cost rental scheme. Glenveagh also committed, in respect of the balance, to making the first offer to the private market.
The 238 social housing units will be made up of 126 houses and duplexes and 112 apartments, ranging from one to four-bedroom units, while the 238 affordable units will be in the form of two and three-bedroom houses.
Under the development agreement, the Council retains ownership of the land and will issue a Licence to Build to Glenveagh who, subject to planning permission, can commence construction. Fingal will retain title to the social units and the open spaces which will be taken in charge.
Title to the 238 affordable units will transfer to eligible purchasers nominated by the Council under the relevant Affordable Housing Scheme and will have a council charge in line with the Affordable Housing Bill 2021. The title to the 718 private units will transfer to Glenveagh in phases and only when units are deemed substantially complete. There will also be a Development Bond in place for each phase and the Council’s Development Contribution Scheme will apply to the private units.
Matthew McAleese, Fingal County Council’s Director of Planning and Strategic Infrastructure, who is leading the project, said: “The Council now has a housing scheme with 1,194 homes which, subject to planning, will substantially alleviate the housing crisis in both the short and medium term. The project has met all the requirements of the Public Spending Code, including the requirement for robust governance structures.
“Having initially established the vision for the development, we then defined the parameters and constraints for the project to ensure that the Council Executive maintains a strong level of oversight and control over the development of the site. The procurement process adhered to all EU, national and council procurement and statutory requirements and we had the benefit of advice from expert procurement, legal and financial advisors as well as the National Development Finance Agency.
“Our governance and oversight structures are designed to safeguard public monies and achieve value for money for the taxpayer while provision has been made in the Development Agreement for the developer to report directly to the Council Executive on the progress of the project. There will also be bi-annual meetings with Glenveagh for oversight purposes,” added McAleese.
Although the site at Ballymastone has been in Council ownership since the 1970s, it was only in 2015 that the foundations for its development were created when the Donabate Local Area Plan earmarked the 32-hectare council-owned landbank for the development of housing, community and recreational facilities.
It took a successful application for €10.62 million in funding under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) towards the construction of the €14.25 million Donabate Distributor Road to turn the aspirations into a reality as the 4km road, which was completed in March 2020, opened up the Ballymastone lands for residential development.
In 2018, the Council created Project Talamh, which is its mechanism to drive the development of its strategic landbanks across the county using innovative forms of delivery. The Project Steering Group includes key members of the Council’s Executive Management Team as well as representatives from the National Development Finance Agency and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. They oversee the work of a cross-departmental Project Implementation Team and its advisors.
The vision for Ballymastone was simple:
The Council conducted a market sounding exercise in 2018 to inform the procurement process and proceeded to engage with the market in a Competitive Dialogue procurement over the next two and a half years.
Three interested parties participated in the Competitive Dialogue and were then invited to submit final tenders in 2020, with Glenveagh emerging as the preferred tenderer in March 2021. Following the agreement to dispose of the Ballymastone lands, Glenveagh will now seek planning permission for the development.
“The Council now has a housing scheme with 1,194 homes which, subject to planning, will substantially alleviate the housing crisis in both the short and medium term.” — Matthew McAleese, Fingal County Council’s Director of Planning and Strategic Infrastructure.
The Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly, says: “Our mandate from government is to provide housing and, since 2015, we have used many mechanisms to ensure the construction of social, affordable and private homes across Fingal. We have spent the last three years developing this new model of delivery, which can deliver a mixed tenure residential development. There was overwhelming support from our councillors for the Ballymastone project and we will continue to work closely with the elected members to improve the supply of all types of housing in Fingal.”
Fingal is currently working on developing mixed tenure schemes at Church Fields in Dublin 15, Cappagh in Dublin 11 and Hayestown in Rush and are working with the Land Development Agency on schemes at Hacketstown in Skerries and Castlelands in Balbriggan.
Fingal County Council
T: 01 890 5000