proposal by Wicklow County Council in their new development plan has sparked concerns with one of Johnny Ronan’s property firms.
The proposal is to set aside 25% of all new medium-sized to large housing builds for people who have lived in the county for the preceding three years.
According to today’s Sunday Times, the concern comes from the Ronan Group Real Estate, consultants for the property firm stating, “The inclusion of an objective to restrict 25 per cent of units in schemes in towns such as Bray to persons living in Wicklow in excess of three years is potentially discriminatory and may prevent the occupation of residential units during a housing crisis”.
With the restriction being proposed for all housing builds of ten units or more, Wicklow County Council also want to impose a condition that such buyers must have lived within 15km of the development site.
Pointing out that no such provisions existed in national and regional planning policies and objectives, and have called on Wicklow County Council to drop the proposal. The amendment proposed by Fine Gael’s Shay Cullen – against the advice of the council’s chief executive Frank Curran – was adopted by councillors at a WCC meeting in May by 19-13 in favour.
Speaking on the amendment, Cullen stated that the measure was designed “to try to address the situation where people can’t afford to purchase a house in their local area”. The councillor also pointed the finger at vulture funds and investors purchasing large numbers of houses for the displacement of communities.
With the legality of the measure questioned by several Wicklow councillors, chief exec Curran pointed out that the proposal would be open to a judicial review or even a constitutional challenge based on a 2013 ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU, known as The Flemish Decree Case – which ruled that a law in the Flemish region of Belgium that sought to limit the sale of property to persons with a ‘sufficient connection’ to a locality was incompatible with EU legislation on the free movement of people.
The Ronan Group Real Estate also argued that the plan might not rezone enough land for housing in Greystones-Delgany and Bray, given that there is already a surplus of zoned lands in those areas.
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