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Latest Student Housing Development Causes Concern

Local residents and politicians have raised concerns after the latest student accommodation development secured planning approval in the Liberties.

An Bord Pleanála approved plans under new fast track planning laws to redevelop the old Donnelly Centre into accommodation to house 399 students. It is the latest in a number of student housing development projects in the area.

Politicians such as TD Joan Collins (Ind) and Cllr Pat Dunne (Ind) have strongly opposed these developments. Dunne has objected to previous planning applications for student housing and said that “if each of these sites had been residential it would have sustained the area in relation to schools and shopping and community”.

Within 1 kilometre of its new site there are currently just under 1,500 student beds.

These include 380 beds opened in September 2018 at Mill Street built and run by Global Student Accommodation (GSA), as well as 471 beds at the Binary Hub on Thomas Street run by Hines.

On top of this, there are an additional 3,279 beds in various stages of planning or where construction has begun, including development at a site bounded by Mill Street, Sweeney’s Terrace and Clarence Mangan Road, that An Bord Pleanala also approved recently.

Collins believes that there are so many student housing units being planned because they are more profitable to developers than normal residential housing. “There are no major third level institutions in Dublin 8, apart from NCAD, so it begs the question that developers are using the student accommodation as quick pickings and not having to adhere to the planning regulations for homes,” she said.

If all the developments currently in the pipeline are completed, it is thought that about 8% of the area’s population will be made up of students. However, “the 8% of student residents is of the entire population; it possibly represents 15% of the adult population in the area,” said Collins.

“I have campaigned with the St. Michael’s Regeneration group to have public homes built on public lands,” Collins said, when asked about her thoughts on how to improve the lack of housing in Dublin. “The regeneration team successfully won a pilot scheme for the European Cost Rental model. This would be a game changer where this is long term security of tenure and affordable rents.”

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