Richard Barrett runs Bartra Holdings, which is planning 351 units in Tallaght
Richard Barrett runs Bartra Holdings, which is planning 351 units in Tallaght

Building groups and landowners are piling into the burgeoning build-to-rent sector, with several separate groups in consultations with An Bord Pleanala over plans for a total of almost 1,750 apartments in Dublin.

A number of the schemes are proposed for former factory sites, as zoned residential land becomes increasingly expensive in the city. In one of the largest build-to-rent proposals to date, Platinum Land, a London group owned by Irish brothers Andrew and Maurice Gillick, aims to build a 535-unit development at a former Chivers jam factory in Coolock, north Dublin.

The Gillicks bought the 8.8-acre site in 2016 and lobbied extensively to have it rezoned from industrial use to residential, indicating they would develop hundreds of affordable homes. Dublin city councillors voted to rezone the site in March. Platinum Land is now in talks with the planning board on plans for 535 build-to-rent units, as well as a creche, cafe and other amenities.

A company set up by builder brothers Brian and Anthony Durkan, meanwhile, is in talks with An Bord Pleanala about 265 build-to-rent apartments at a former Dulux factory site on Davitt Road in Dublin 12. Bartra Property, headed by former Treasury Holdings director Richard Barrett, is planning 351 build-to-rent and shared living units on a site in the Cookstown industrial estate in Tallaght.

Pyrmont Property Developments, a company owned by Joseph and Laura Costello, is in separate consultations with the planning board about a 201-unit build-to-rent scheme at the same Cookstown estate. The Costellos are directors of Absolute Limos, a car and bus hire company based in the estate.

The property group Scanron, headed by Kieran Gannon, is also in pre-planning talks with An Bord Pleanala about 299 apartments at the former Smurfit printworks at Botanic Road in Glasnevin, north Dublin. Scanron is reported to have paid €18m for the Glasnevin site.

Build-to-rent or private rental sector (PRS) projects — where blocks of apartments are built for professional rentals — have become increasingly common, and international groups are buying up such developments. PRS deals accounted for 30% of property investment spending in the third quarter of the year, according to BNP Paribas Real Estate. Buyers in the sector include Kennedy Wilson, Ires Reit, Carysfort Capital and Patrizia.

The government was expected to raise stamp duty on PRS deals from 1% to 6% in the budget, to bring it in line with commercial property transactions, but did not do so. Killian O’Higgins, managing director of WK Nowlan Real Estate Advisors, cautioned that the government could still increase the stamp duty on PRS transactions in the Finance Bill, which is due to be published on Thursday.

“It would be prudent to reserve final judgment until the Finance Bill is published,” he said.

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