In support of the Donore Project: planning observation

The Land Development Agency are applying to build 543 apartments in Dublin 8, on the site of the old St. Teresa’s Gardens. I’m very supportive of the application – as it will provide much needed housing supply, particularly in the social housing and cost rental sectors.

Below is the short and simple observation I sent in to An Bord Pleanála in February 2023.

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Housing, not a hotel for Francis Street

Developers sought to build an aparthotel on the corner of Francis Street and Mark’s Alley. I think they should build housing there instead.

Below is the observation I sent in: all the documents are here. Dublin City Council rejected planning permission in March 2023.

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Ending Dublin’s tax break for new car parking

For years, Dublin City Council (along with many others) has been giving new-build car parking spaces a tax break. I have been working over the past years to end that tax break, and I think we’re close to achieving it.

The tax break works via Dublin City’s Development Levy. This is essentially a charge on every square metre of new development: €113.82 for residential development or €118.60 for commercial development.

So if you were building a 100sq m. office, for example, you’d pay €11,860 in development levies to the council.

The city has various exemptions to this, though. These exemptions recognise that we want to use the tax system to further encourage some kinds of development. Some things Dublin City charges no levy (or a reduced levy) on include:

  • social and affordable housing,
  • non-profit childcare facilities,
  • renewable energy installations,
  • the first 40 sq m of new housing development,
  • minor extensions to protected structures,

Bizarrely, however, Dublin City also offers exemptions and reduced rates to car parking: whether for commercial or residential parking.

The Greens put forward a motion to change that in a council meeting at the end of 2022, and it got majority support across the council to remove the exemption. You can see a video of me (badly!) setting this out here.

There was some understandable objection, however, that applying the levy to new residential car parking spaces would increase build costs for new build residential units. These costs are already too high and could be passed on to homebuyers.

This proposal, which I submitted as part of the consultation on the new development levy scheme, aims to answer that objection, tweaking the city’s development levy in order to:

  1. Fully include car parking as a part of the development levy at the full 100% rate, ending the tax break encouraging new parking development.
  2. Generate similar revenue for the city as under the current proposal (revenue neutral)
  3. Reduce or at least maintain existing overall build costs.

The basic idea is that we lower the overall residential development levy rate slightly, while simultaneously applying the levy to car parking without any exemption or reduction.

This effectively lowers the per square metre charge while increasing the area it applies to.

If we set the new levy rate correctly, we can do this in a way that is broadly revenue neutral for the council and does not impose higher building costs overall on residential construction. It would do this while ending the unwanted tax incentive for extra car parking.

If the principle of this is accepted, the key question is calculating an appropriate residential rate.

This could be done by establishing the average number of parking spaces for each unit of housing in the last year, along with the average size of residential units. We can then easily calculate what proportion of overall development is made up of car parking spaces and reduce the residential development levy proportionately.

An example of the revised calculation

To use an example with easy-to-work-with figures: imagine that last year Dublin saw 12,000sq m of development, and there were ten parking spaces as part of that (each space being an average 12 sq m, making a total of 120sq m).

This would make 1% of all development space car parking. In the proposed scheme, that is not subject to the levy, meaning that 11,880 sq m is subject to the levy of €113.82, raising €1,352,181.60 in development levies.

If we include the parking (increasing the levied area), we can raise the same overall amount by lowering the levy rate to €112.68.

In essence, we’re increasing the area to be levied by 1.01%, while lowering the rate being levied by 0.99%. It will raise the same amount of money while no longer incentivising car parking.

A scheme along these lines would thus generate a similar amount of money, disincentivise excess parking provision, and have no overall cost on build costs. In particular, this would likely give a big cost discount to urban apartments, which have limited parking and was flagged by the Society of Charterered Surveyors’s estimate as currently the most expensive form of housing to build.

All of this can be achieved through small changes to the proposed scheme: removing car parking from the exemption/reduction list and simply varying the rate.

Thus I am calling for a small piece of analysis to be done by the city council on the last year of residential planning applications, to see either how many parking spaces or how much space overall was given over to parking, in order to calculate how much we should lower the levy rate by.

Rialto linear park: second phase to start in February

The second phase of work on the new linear park in Rialto (along St. James’ Walk) will start in the first week of February 2022. Works are expected to take about four months to complete.

This phase of work covers the section between Basin Lane and the bend in the Luas tracks as it runs alongside James’ Hospital. You can see the section marked in red below.

The plans for the site include:

  • New trees
  • A mix of new shrub, grass and perennial planting
  • Flower beds
  • Formal and informal seating
  • A “playful landscape” with steps, mounds, and a slide for kids
  • Accessible gym equipment
  • An “edible garden” with fruit trees and edible plants, planted in conjuntion with interested local residents and schools (starting in November 2023).

Before works begin, there will also be an archaeological assessment. This will seek to highlight the old route of the canal which previously flowed through here.

You can see a map of the final design below, or click here for the full document from the council to see it in greater detail.

This is the second part of the linear park project in the area: I think the first phase around the Fatima Luas stop area has been great, so I’m keen to see what they do with this space.

These plans followed three consultation events in 2022: two online and one in the F2 Centre in Rialto.

Once construction finishes on the National Children’s Hospital, the city council will get back some space (near Rialto Bridge and Luas stop), which will also be done up as a third phase to create a unified park.

This will link in with the park section which runs from Suir Road to Rialto Bridge, which will also be improved.

This is a fairly narrow strip of land, but one which gets great use locally. It’s great to see invenstment, thought, and improvement go into it. If you have any questions or thoughts on this project, just let me know at or join the conversation on Twitter here.

Approval for Supervised Injection facility “will save lives” – Greens

An Bord Pleanála have approved an application for a supervised injecting facility for Merchant’s Quay in Dublin 8 – a decision which has been welcomed by local Green Party representatives.

The injection facility provides a safe, supervised, medical space for people injecting drugs. There are over 90 in operation worldwide, 

In 2018, addiction charity Merchant’s Quay Ireland was given government approval to run an 18-month pilot injecting facility. The planning application for the service was initially rejected by Dublin City Council, but was approved on appeal by An Bord Pleanála. That decision was overturned by the High Court in July 2021 and sent back to An Bord Pleanála, which has now approved it.

Local Green Party councillor for the area, Michael Pidgeon, welcomed the decision:

“This is a positive and long overdue decision. A facility like this will save lives.

“We need to get on with building this facility. Services like this are in place across the world. They are proven to save lives, reduce public injecting, and drastically cut the number of discarded, dirty needles on streets.

“People have died on the streets and in toilets around the area. Locals – including children – have been forced to live alongside needle litter and public injecting.

“No location will be universally accepted, but these centres have a proven record in improving the area around them. We need to get this centre up and running as soon as possible.

“Delays cost lives and do nothing to resolve this problem. It’s time to build.”

Local Green Party TD, Patrick Costello, said:

“The justice-based approach which we have taken in relation to drug use has failed. Today’s decision can herald the beginning of a new, compassionate, and treatment-based system. This is not only better for drug users, in offering a safe and monitored environment, but also for the public writ large.

“More generally the opening of this new centre will form a positive discussion point in relation to the upcoming Citizens Assembly on Drugs. This assembly, secured by the Green Party in the Programme for Government, will be transformative in reforming policy around illegal substances and drug users. For our part we will be arguing for a health-based approach which puts people’s safety and rehabilitation at the core. This injection centre represents that progressive approach.

“Delays here have cost lives in Limerick, Cork and elsewhere, as they waited for this pilot to begin. We need to rollout these facilities across the country urgently.”


July 2019 statement from local Greens:

Michael Pidgeon’s 2019 submission to An Bord Pleanála in favour of the centre:

December 2019 statement from local Greens:

July 2021 statement from local Greens:

December 2022 approval from An Bord Pleanala:

New cycle route- Kilmainham to Thomas Street: my submission

There’s a new bike lane planned for Rialto: running from Suir Road all the way to Thomas Street. It’s one of the quick-build interim schemes that Dublin City Council are rolling out, which will eventually be followed up with a permanent scheme.

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100% Irish veg box: how it compares

Earlier this year I asked people for recommendations for a good veg box in Dublin 8. It can be a little hard to get clear info on what’s available, or what the value is like, so I wanted to share my experiences with them so far.

Especially given the cost of living at the moment, I’ve also done a price comparison on how it compares to a normal shop.

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