Dingle is witnessing an unprecedented surge in plans to build apartments in what developers describe as the most appropriate solution to current housing needs.
owever, in a town which up to now has mostly been made up of private houses, residents have raised concerns about some of the proposed developments because they feel they are too tightly packed together, carry serious traffic implications and could be used for holiday homes and tourist accommodation rather than providing much needed housing for local people.
According to Kerry County Council, there are over 950 approved social housing applications in the Castleisland / Corca Dhuibhne Local Electoral Area and, of these, over half require one-bedroom units and a quarter of the applicants need two-bedroom units.
Approximately a third of these applications are estimated to be for housing in in the Dingle area, where first time buyers find it extremely difficult to get a foot on the ladder because of the very high price of houses and are left with no option but to seek social housing.
Developers say the solution is to build affordable apartments, rather than traditional houses, and this argument is put forward in applications to Kerry County Council seeking permission to construct three separate developments in areas on the north eastern (inland) side of the line formed by Main Street and John Street.
The biggest of these proposed developments is for 91 residential units on a 1.87 hectare (4.64 acre) site that is bounded by the existing Na Gorta Glasa (Cluid Housing development), Árd na Gréine and Cluain Árd estates in the Grove.
The proposal – submitted on May 18 by a firm called ‘Social Housing Company’ with addresses in Dublin, Cork, and Main Street, Dingle – is made up of seven, three-storey apartment buildings containing 31 one-bedroom and 31 two-bedroom apartments. The development also includes 21 single-storey terraced houses; and eight detached two-storey houses.
“This development’s origins are based on addressing the chronic need and a social responsibility to react to the housing crises within the Dingle area,” according to the developers who say Dingle needs social housing units to meet “a specific family type” and the proposed apartments and houses could provide accommodation for 290 permanent residents.
A Language Impact Assessment, submitted as part of the planning application, claims the development would “strengthen the Irish language and the Irish speaking community in Dingle” and proposes that appropriate planning conditions would be that “a minimum of 31 per cent of the dwelling houses shall be reserved for Irish speakers… The apartments shall be permanent residences for seven years [and] shall not be holiday homes or second homes”
At the time going to press Kerry County Council’s planning website did not include any observations or objections to the plan from residents in the area.
A separate application is seeking permission from Kerry County Council for permission for a terraced three-storey apartment building on a site of just under one acre beside the relief road, behind Goat Street and opposite the Cnoc a’ Cairn estate.
This proposal, which was submitted by Zinbar Grove on February 24, is for a terraced building of 30 apartments over three floors, with one, two and three-bed arrangements.
The building, which the developers say “is not designed as a holiday home or rental scheme and is primarily designed for permanent residents”, has four apartment types, the bulk of which are 13 one-bedroom apartments and another 13 two-bedroom apartments. According to the developers the apartments could provide accommodation for 94 people.
The planning application was submitted by Dingle-based Declan Noonan & Associates on behalf of Zinbar Grove and in a Design Statement included with the application they emphasise the need for more apartments in Dingle.
“After consultation with local auctioneers and property experts it quickly became apparent that Dingle town urgently needed the supply of affordable one, two and three bedroom apartment units….This apartment proposal provides a brilliant opportunity to provide a supply of 30 much needed homes for the people of Dingle,” the Design Statement says.
An Irish Language Impact Statement with the planning application concludes that “this development will have a positive effect on the Irish language” and, mirroring the application by Social Housing Company it proposes that: “a minimum of 31 per cent of the dwelling houses shall be reserved for Irish speakers… The apartments shall be permanent residences for seven years [and] shall not be holiday homes or second homes”
Several residents in the surrounding area have submitted observations to this planning application, raising concerns about “excessive development in an already developed area”, the impact on the existing streetscape, potential traffic hazards, the impact on parking spaces, and the loss to residents and wildlife of a valuable green area.
Concerns were also raised that while the front of the proposed development matches the streetscape already constructed on the relief road, the rear includes balconies that would overlook existing neighbouring properties on Goat Street.
Kerry County Council is yet to make a decision on this planning application and is currently seeking further information on aspects of the proposal.
And in yet another proposal for a major development of apartments and houses, Cork-based HRP Construction Ltd is seeking planning permission to build 39 two-storey and three-storey residential units in a 0.713 hectare field on John Street.
A little over 60 per cent of this development would be comprised of apartments and, according to the developers, the “medium to high density development… within the established built-up area of the town would represent a sustainable addition to the housing market within Dingle [and] matches the market demand for housing”.
The proposal, which was submitted in May of last year, received a raft of objections from surrounding residents who raised concerns about traffic hazards, the design and density of the development, the potential for apartments to be used for short term holiday letting, and the impact on neighbouring properties.
Kerry County Council planners subsequently sought further information from the developers and when this was not submitted within the required time limit the application was deemed to be withdrawn. However, a new application was submitted for the same site last month.
Meanwhile, work is currently underway on the construction of a three-storey detached apartment building with 13 apartments in the former Presentation Convent school grounds off Goat Street. This development, which was granted planning permission in 2019 includes one, two and three-bedroom apartments.