The current buoyant housing market, driven by a fast-growing domestic economy, higher employment levels and rising urban populations is presenting both opportunities and challenges in the residential sector. Residential developers are trying to balance the requirement for higher densities and building heights, against the commercial consideration of delivering the type of product the market wants, or introducing a new types of residential offerings to the marketplace.
In recent years, the emergence of new residential sub-sectors including specialist student accommodation, build-to-rent and the co-location of dedicated residential accommodation to service specific office developments, have come to compliment the more traditional offerings in residential developments. The sector has also seen large institutional developers and investors take strong positions, with longer term outlooks or slightly different commercial strategies that might have traditionally been the case.
The Strategic Housing Development (SHD) avenue has presented a streamlined process for securing planning permission for larger developments, but presents its own challenges and uncertainties. The new requirements for fulfilling social and affordable obligations have also presented challenges, but also opportunities as Local Authorities have continued to grapple with large housing lists.
Following the best planning strategy to secure the right planning permission remains key to maximising the commercial potential of any residential site, and ensure high-quality, sustainably-planned developments continue to meet the requirements of the marketplace.
Residential Development Key Services
We manage the entire planning permission application process, or provide key inputs and planning advice. From advice at the pre-planning stage, through to preparing and managing the planning application or responding to further information requests, we help applicants or their project teams navigate a project through the planning process.
We can either lead the planning-phase design team or are equally happy to play out part as a team member. Our most experienced planners lead the consultations with the Planning Authorities, from the initial concept feasibility discussions right through to agreeing pre-commencement compliance requirements.
The new Strategic Housing Development (SHD) legislation requires planning applications for residential developments of 50 units or more and student accommodation developments of 100+ bed spaces to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála.
We use all our experience of engaging with An Bord Pleanála on strategic infrastructure developments, to help applicants and their strategic housing developments through this process. Given the limited opportunities to submit additional information in the SHD process and the need to demonstrate compliance with planning policy at the initial pre-application consultation meetings, planning inputs on SHD projects are even more critical.
They are also written to be practical and aware of the need to implement design and mitigation measures during a project’s construction/operation phase. We project manage client, design team and specialist inputs, and meet our client’s deadlines. Our EIA experience spans every industry sector. Projects and clients benefit from the combined experience of all our company’s staff, who have refined our EIA knowledge and practices over decades of work in this field.
We compile comprehensive, robust and effective planning appeals or responses to grounds of appeal when a planning application is subject to an An Bord Pleanála appeal. We prepare responses to grounds of appeal when a successful planning application must be defended on appeal.
Where an application to a planning authority has been unsuccessful, our appeals focus on the planning arguments most relevant to An Bord Pleanála. Every appeal is individually tailored to the particulars of the project and the most relevant planning policy to give our clients the best possible chance of securing their desired outcome.
We prepare comprehensive and fit-for-purpose Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) as either stand-alone reports or for use as chapters of an EIS/EIAR. The scope of each EcIA is tailored to the specific client’s requirements of their site and project.
They can be targeted at a specific ecological subject matter of relevance, or span the full spectrum of ecology, from terrestrial habitats, flora and fauna, to freshwater, marine and avian ecology. Our EcIA are solutions-focused, proposing ways to mitigate potential impacts rather than just identify problems. Our clients benefit from the EcIA experience we bring to their projects, from having worked on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.
Our development potential reports (DPRs) help determine what a site might be able to accommodate by way of future development. We consider in detail the relevant planning policies that govern development standards for a particular area and outline this ruleset under which any future planning application will be considered.
We also study recent successful and unsuccessful precedent decisions, to ensure every opportunity for maximising the potential of a site is identified and used to inform any proposals brought forward. Our DPRs regularly help inform property and site valuations by identifying a site’s true potential.
Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMPs)
Our CEMPs document how a proposed development can be delivered through a construction phase while adhering to relevant environmental best-practice.
Whether prepared at a pre-planning or pre-commencement stage, our plans act as a reference guide for construction personnel or regulators, and demonstrate how the prescriptions of an EIS/EIAR or environmental guidelines can be delivered on-site. We regularly engage with contractors to develop and strengthen their method statements or incorporate them into our CEMPs. Our advice is informed by Irish, UK and international best practice to deal with the most complex of situations, but is framed by the combined experience of staff and their knowledge of what does and doesn’t work.
Our bat surveying experience, equipment and expertise allows us to manage surveys from the most sensitive of locations to the largest of sites. We have invested in the latest handheld and remote identification technology and software, and use that to improve bat survey accuracy and result confidence.
Our team, which includes qualified bat handlers, conduct all types of bat surveys required, walked surveys, building inspections, remote surveys or a combination of all the above. Surveys are tailored to the site, the type of proposed development and the time of year. Monitoring devices can be left in place for weeks or months at a time, capturing long-period data across large sites, giving large amounts of data that would otherwise be very costly to capture via surveyors.