PP for apartments in South Dublin?

PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:49 am

This is a quick one that will require professional help to go anywhere but I'd be interested if anyone has any information at their fingertips. We have a site in west county Dublin (SDCC) which has local authority housing to rear and a private residence at the side. There is a dwelling house and retail unit on the site currently but the site is about 3/4 Acre and could technically accomodate a small apartment block, but what are the odds of SDCC even granting permission? Do they need to improve density etc.? Site is not to far from Liffey Valley.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby sw101 » Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:52 am

depends on the zoning. is there any precedent for a development of that nature in the area?
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:10 pm

sw101 wrote:depends on the zoning. is there any precedent for a development of that nature in the area?

Yeah, there's similar development along the R113 where they had a 'tight' site and excavated beneath for the parking and so on. There are houses and apartments within 100m of the site. I know I can't really expect any solid answers here but would the fact that the development might overlook existing back gardens prevent it or do you just have to maintain 'ancient daylight' or whatever?
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby ctesiphon » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:01 pm

The standard restrictions would apply re separation distances, overlooking, overshadowing, etc., though that's not to say they'd prevent apartments being developed. And SDCC generally looks pretty favourably on apts on infill sites.

However, I'd caution against doing it just because you can meet the basic requirements- I've seen plenty of developments recently where it's obvious that the standard restrictions were applied with little or no imagination, resulting in nasty, inward-looking blocks with almost blank walls facing into adjoining properties- nobody wins in these cases (except the developer, of course- if by 'winning' you understand making money).

I wonder whether the market downturn won't force developers to invest a bit more time and energy in the design phase? Or to look honestly at the actual development potential of a site...

(This isn't directed at you, murphaph, in case it needs to be said- more a general observation.)
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:41 pm

I find it hard to use the word "developer" about myself at all. It is a parcel of land my mum has inherited and she has 3 options-rent it as is for a small return, develop it (I would have to take on the risk as she is too old to get loans from banks) and rent/sell or just sell as is.

She is taking the long term view and does not want to sell, but rather leave a legacy.

I would not like to leave a dreadful legacy in respect of bargain basement design either. The site has good potential wrt future transport links vis-a-vis transport21 (if it ever materialises).

I would like to keep at least one commercial unit on the ground floor facing the street.

How does one honestly best assess the development potential of a site? Should I make contact with the county planner before doing anything else and just running it by them for their opinion?

Thanks for the general feedback folks. This is not something to rush into as I'm sure you'll agree but at present there is very little of note on the site and it's a bit of an eyesore actually.

Edit: Might the market downturn be a blessing in disguise for ourselves as we are not developers and would have to contract a builder? I assume if demand is lower we will pay less for the development, should it proceed? In that case we could afford to build a 'better quality' development. At the end of the day it's a development to be held and not sold off so we'd want a 'decent' project with rentable units.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby sw101 » Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:45 pm

don;t just go to a planner and say "what do ya think?". you're wasting their time.

check the zoning, employ an architect and get a feasability study done for the site and proposed development. then go to a planner.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:18 am

well, it's zoned A (to protect/improve existing residential ammenity) according to the zoning maps, which is unsurprising as there's a dwelling house at the front of the site.

Any recomendations for an architect with a good name for infill developments? (pm me if it's not appropriate to advertise on the open forum please).

Who performs the feasibility study? my architect?
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby sw101 » Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:42 am

any practise should be well able for it. it won't be for free though. the initial feasability study would be a desktop survey, brief site visit and planning consultation, you'd be spending a couple of grand at least.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:08 pm

Worth looking at planning consultanices too- the smaller ones rather than a big office.

Check the Irish Planning Institute website for some leads/names.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:39 am

Thanks folks. This is going to be an ongoing thing of course so I might be back about this!
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:56 pm

Ok,
I spoke to a friend who is a builder and he said the best bet is to get a local architect to the project. The only one I could find in the Clondalkin with a website (don't worry-I won't restrict myself to architects with websites!) area was THIS ONE. Anyone know anything about this company?
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby DOC » Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:31 am

Had a look at that website - (providing 'architectural (?) services') - they (the designs) look really really good (tounge jammed very far in cheek). ;) I love the utility buildings set in the landscape!

Not trying to be funny but I would if I were you cast your net further! murphaph - I would suggest when your friend said local they meant within the general south Dublin area. Try looking at the RIAI website - http://www.riai.ie - and the arch search area.

One thing I will say is that the better, more innovative and professionally presented your design, the better the chance you will have of seriously discussung with the planning authority and/or obtaining planning permission.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:46 am

DOC wrote:One thing I will say is that the better, more innovative and professionally presented your design, the better the chance you will have of seriously discussung with the planning authority and/or obtaining planning permission.

Won't any architect woth his salt prepare plans with the best interests if the owner and with the best possibility of approval?

You see, when I read 'innovative' I think $$$$$!!! I have to think of that. I have the responsibility to develop the site on behalf of my mother who is too elderly to do very much. I have to think of her financial best interests and how I can give her the best return possible.

Having spoke to our builder friend he reassures us that we will need to spend tens of thousands of euro before a drop of concrete is poured (thanks Larry!). He also (having been a builder for decades) told me that some architects are to be avoided as they are more interested in winning prizes than delivering the best return for the client. That may sound controversial on a forum with a load of architects...discuss!

I'm excited and fearful of the future. Our builder friend saw the site for the first time today and he was impressed immediately with the potential but he said the word "architect" about 50 times. We understand that a development of this scale (big to us!) is going absolutely nowhere without an architect but we want one who wants the best for us.

Larry said that any architect who is serious will come to the site for a chat for free and if he isn't prepared to do that given the reasonable scale of the job should be discounted and told to forget anout it. Thoughts on this?

Thanks for the RIAI link!
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby Paul Clerkin » Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:31 pm

Also - a database of architects - under development
http://ireland.archiseek.com/practices/search/register.cgi/country/ireland/
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby PVC King » Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:06 pm

murphaph wrote:
You see, when I read 'innovative' I think $$$$$!!! I have to think of that. I have the responsibility to develop the site on behalf of my mother who is too elderly to do very much. I have to think of her financial best interests and how I can give her the best return possible.

Having spoke to our builder friend he reassures us that we will need to spend tens of thousands of euro before a drop of concrete is poured (thanks Larry!). He also (having been a builder for decades) told me that some architects are to be avoided as they are more interested in winning prizes than delivering the best return for the client. That may sound controversial on a forum with a load of architects...discuss!


Taking the personality out of it the site will have a value based upon what comparable sites have fetched previously and in the current market that certainly will be a small proportion of the gross development value.

The basis of that is that risk aversion has risen dramatically as prices have cooled; the fact that the site is so close to Liffey Valley, Phoenix Park and Kings Hospital will make it a very desirable location given the local amenities.

I would view your position as three entirely different propositions; firstly you may dispose of the site at market value;

Secondly you could enter a JV with a developer structured as follows; you grant an exclusive right to a developer to apply for permission which if successful would lead to a fixed price being payable or a percentage of the gross development value at the point of disposal.

Thirdly you could commission designs from a reputable architectural practice however I would talk to a property consultant involved in mixed use developments to scope which architects to appoint. There is little point in commissioning an architect to design a scheme if it is felt that there would be insufficient demand or that the numbers just wouldn't stack up.

In terms of quality of design there is certainly going to be a higher density if you hire a talented architect and the planners will react much more favourably to something that doesn't look like it is made from lego. In a buyers market purchasers are also more savy on what they will buy and it is felt that the fall off in demand for buy to let purchases predicated on income returns alone have killed off demand for boxes that are fine to rent but you wouldn't live in yourself; this unquestionably has altered the market considerably as many of the buyers of this asset class have moved into small lot UK or European buys where rental returns of 7 - 11% are typical.

My advice; talk to a top 3 property practice to get an opinion and do a JV with a developer who will bear all the risk and insist on decent design satandards to ensure that there is demand for the end product. The most successful developments in Dublin to date for me are Dundrum SC, 69-76 Stephens Green and the former Johnston Mooney and O'Brien scheme at Ballsbridge; all involved higher densities based upon high design standards.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:22 pm

Thanks for the feedback there guys.

PVC King: You opt for the JV option but obviously the developer doesn't take all the risk for only little reward....so what does he get at the end of such an endeavour?

My builder friend (and his wife) are savvy people with a large property portfolio dating back many years. They immediately lean towards "build to let" and sell as few units as possible following completion. We are not viewing it as a fast buck. We as a family wish for myself and my brother to have this block as a nest egg, and somewhat obfiscate the need for hefty pension schemes. That's what our builder friends have done.

I may be somehwat old fashioned and lean towards that too....hold what ou have and build on it mentality. I accept however that I may be outdated and a JV is a better option (and to be fair to larry he did say we may come back to it if self-development throws up too many obstacles to be practical-never rule something out is his attitude).

So a JV.....typically, what would we end up with? We'd still own the land, right? And perhaps some of the units?

Would you guys agree that a professional architect will be happy to come out and discuss outline options on a site like this? I'd like to talk to more than one and get a feel for somebody i'd like to work with.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby PVC King » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:40 pm

The land would automatically transfer to the management company once you sub-divide and sell even one unit; statutory wisdom apparently! Unless you grant 125 year leases which would influence value downward.

A JV is just a loose term for doing a deal with a professional developer who has the expertise to handle all aspects of the project from planning to disposal; there are a lot of relationships to be managed, architects, planners, contractors, quantity surveyors, estate agents, solicitors, and most critically the funder all of which have their pitfalls.

Your options would be to agree a price for the site should planning be secured or a percentage of the residual value once project costs were deducted or a set number of units or a percentage of the completed units.

I'm sure that a lot of architects who were doing spec dev resi over the past decade would be happy to discuss such a project if they felt you had the support to take it forward.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:54 pm

Thanks King.

Appreciate your thoughts. My net step shall be to retain an (RIAI!) architect (I can't believe the word architect doesn't autmomatically imply a minimum standard of education!) to do a feasibility report. it'll be a couple of grand well spent.

Will keep ye posted!
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby DOC » Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:40 pm

Most architects would be happy to meet you, look at the site, give you their impressions and thoughts on the site, go through/outline their services and fees, show you previous work, and generally discuss the design/planning process without charging for that initial meeting.

The only thing I will say is that you should not expect to get designs or exact square meterage/apartment sizes and nos., etc., from an initial meeting!!! I have had people want bottom line nos. of apartments at an intial meeting and do not want to know anything else - they sometimes are the people that you decline a commission from!!

The most important thing that you should get out of an initial meeting is whether or not you feel you can work with that person going forward.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:16 pm

DOC wrote:Most architects would be happy to meet you, look at the site, give you their impressions and thoughts on the site, go through/outline their services and fees, show you previous work, and generally discuss the design/planning process without charging for that initial meeting.

The only thing I will say is that you should not expect to get designs or exact square meterage/apartment sizes and nos., etc., from an initial meeting!!! I have had people want bottom line nos. of apartments at an intial meeting and do not want to know anything else - they sometimes are the people that you decline a commission from!!

The most important thing that you should get out of an initial meeting is whether or not you feel you can work with that person going forward.

Agree entirely. I wouldn't expect anyone to give me such detail at an early stage.....I'd at least give the man* a chance to get his propelling pencil and set squares out :D

Thanks doc!





*or woman of course!
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:09 pm

Well, the RPA uploaded images of the metrowest route today and there's a stop within 2 mins walk and visible from the site. Should help fit in with the "to promote higher densities within public transport corridor catchment areas" clause of their Development plan!
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:24 am

Which images are they, murphaph? I just had a look on the RPA website but couldn't see any recent updates. Thanks.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby murphaph » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:43 pm

ctesiphon wrote:Which images are they, murphaph? I just had a look on the RPA website but couldn't see any recent updates. Thanks.


Aren't the concept drawings on this page new? I think so but might be wrong.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:54 pm

I think you're right. Looking at the title block of one of the drawings I see a date of 11.01.08 for the most recent update.

I'm still not sure if that route is set in stone, but if it changes it won't be by much.

Thanks for the link.
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Re: PP for apartments in South Dublin?

Postby Peter Fitz » Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:41 pm

they're updated plans alright ... bloody thing is not a metro at all, littered with at grade crossings, 5 on the belgard road alone. Its going to take this glorified bendy bus well over an hour to reach the airport. Anyway another issue for another thread i suppose, thanks for the link.
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