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New student campus on the blocks

A new student accommodation block with controversial ‘co-living’ spaces is set to rise on the site of Phibsboro shopping centre.

In 2020, MM Capital (owners of the shopping centre) sought permission to build 341 new student apartments in Phibsboro, Dublin.

Following Minister Darragh O’Brien’s decision to ban co-housing spaces on 22 December 2020, An Bord Pleanála permitted the project – permission was applied for before the ban – but on the condition that only 297 apartments were to be built.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD had argued that planning permission for the project would be “intolerable” if the appeal committee granted planning permission at the higher numbers.

On the ground, the project is not enthusiastically welcomed. “I don’t find this project necessary because it requires too much investment and time, which will harm the employees of the shopping centre with the incessant noise of the works,” said Ela Bria, an employee at Phibsboro Shopping Centre.

However, MM Capital currently has a permit for the €50 million student accommodation programme.

Phibsboro’s shopping centre is planned to be reconstructed into student accommodation in two years. Image: Marie-Lou Sultan

Two independent Dublin city councillors, Cieran Perry and Mannix Flynn had announced that they would seek judicial review in the High Court to overturn the decision but instead, they changed their minds and allowed the project to proceed.

Mérine Calime, a student in Dublin, agrees with the project as ”the lack of student residences” is felt throughout many students who are currently having difficulty finding a place to live.

Likewise, Axel Méfiant, a student living in the city, said, “I find that it’s a good location and the fact of sharing accommodation is not a negative point.”

The shared student residence construction plan in Phibsboro’s iconic shopping centre is expected to be finished within two years.

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