An Bord Pléanala deputy chairperson voted on build-to-rent application supported by brother’s firm

The head of An Bord Pleanála’s (ABP) strategic housing development (SHD) division signed off on a controversial build-to-rent development on which his brother’s company had worked.

Paul Hyde, also ABP deputy chairperson, further voted to grant planning permission for an office development for which his brother carried out the emergency services access report. Both developments were met with objections by local residents.

ABP board members are required by the organisation’s code of conduct to “disclose any possible conflict of interest” when adjudicating on planning matters. When asked if was aware that a company directed by the deputy chairperson’s brother had worked on contested developments, ABP told The Ditch it “has no comment”.  

The Ditch reported last week that ABP deputy chairperson and head of the body’s SHD division Paul Hyde had failed to declare his ownership of three investment properties and that these investments had gone into receivership.

It has now emerged that Hyde voted on proposed developments on which a company founded by his brother had worked.

More than 600 build-to-rent apartments. More than 150 objections

In December 2021 ABP granted planning permission for a 667-apartment complex in Milltown Park, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 to Sandford Living Ltd, a subsidiary of international property firm Ardstone Capital. Of these 667 apartments, 604 will be built to rent.

Though the proposed complex was met with 165 objections and contravened height requirements in the Dublin City Council Development Plan, it was fast tracked as a strategic housing development – a large development that cannot be appealed.

As part of the application to ABP, developer Sandford Living submitted an access and use strategy report, which was conducted by Maurice Johnson & Partners.

Paul Hyde’s brother Stefan Hyde is a founding partner of the company, which was established in 2009. The company carries out fire safety and access work for clients such as the HSE, Revenue, RTÉ, the Central Bank, Google, Facebook, PayPal, Dunnes Stores and EY.

A significant focus of the report was car parking facilities at the proposed complex, an issue that a number of residents raised in their objections.

On 23 December, 2021 Paul Hyde, as head of ABP’s strategic housing development division, signed the order allowing the development to proceed.

In 2020, Paul Hyde signed off on planning permission for an office development on Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. Hibernia REIT – which holds a €1.4 billion property portfolio, had made the application for the development – which was to involve the demolition of old office blocks and the construction of a new commercial office building.

Dublin City Council had granted Hibernia REIT permission for the work but the development was met with multiple objections – a number of which related to the proposed removal of a fire escape – and was referred to ABP on appeal.

Stefan Hyde’s company Maurice Johnson & Partners had worked with Hibernia REIT on the application to Dublin City Council and had prepared a fire service and ambulance personnel access strategy for the developer.

Stefan Hyde's initials on the report indicate he checked the site in May 2019.

On foot of objections to the development, ABP carried out a report that noted Maurice Johnson & Partners’ work on the application.

After ABP voted in favour of allowing the work to proceed, Paul Hyde ultimately signed the order in August 2020.

Stefan and Paul Hyde, Ardstone Capital and Hibernia REIT declined to comment.

G. Thompson

G. Thompson