Controversial Johnstown apartment site on the market for £850,000

An artist’s impression of the proposed development on daft.ie

A three-acre development site on Metges Road in Johnstown, which has planning permission for 104 apartments and commercial space, has gone on the market with a guide price of €850,000.

The controversial site sparked protests in 2019 from local residents over the scale of the development and the impact it would have on adjacent properties as well as traffic in the area.

The 1.23 hectare site, adjacent to Johnstown Shopping Center and Bailis Village Apartments, is directly opposite IDA Business Park. It was recently listed for sale on daft.ie by agents. BIDx1 is expected to go under the online public auction hammer.

The site obtained planning permission by a Bord Pleanala in 2019 for the construction of four buildings with a height of four to five floors over basement comprising 104 residential apartments and 1,536 m². of commercial space.

As it was considered a strategic housing estate, it went straight to Bord Pleanala who ruled in favor of the application with conditions attached.

A previous application for the site, made by Hunt Capital Ltd in 2017, had been granted permission by Meath County Council for 99 flats, a shopping centre, sports facilities and a 205 space car park. The development consisted of five buildings with a maximum height of five stories and was met with strong opposition from local residents, with 20 submissions made, including a community one with 450 signatures.

The grant of permission was later overturned on appeal by a Bord Pleanala who said it would ‘constitute a substandard form of urban development’.

However, less than a year later, Hunt Capital Ltd returned with a revised application for the site, which this time went straight to Bord Pleanala as a strategic housing development, bypassing Meath County Council. Plans called for 104 apartments in four buildings of up to five stories and in October 2019 the Verge gave the green light to the development, but on the condition that the 70-space above-ground car park be replaced with open space. It was also a condition that the vehicular entrance in the northern part of the site between blocks C and D be omitted as well as an extension of the pedestrian and cycle facilities along the frontage of the site.

Cal Mooney, a landlord in Bailis, was a vocal opponent of the development and led the charge on residents’ objections to a Bord Pleanala at the time. He said that although the site has planning permission, the opinion given to them by their planning consultant who helped them with their objections was that it was unlikely to be possible to build the development with the restrictions imposed by a Bord Pleanala.

“At €850,000, it’s not huge for a plot of 1.32 hectares in a built-up area. It is being sold at a ridiculous price because under the current permit, with restrictions particularly on parking, it is highly unlikely to be built in its current format,” Cal said.

“The opinion we got from our planning consultant at the time of the edge decision was that anyone looking to develop the site in the future is likely to come back to plan again to make the site viable.”