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Bartra Capital secures planning permission for co-living scheme in Dublin 4

The firm has secured planning permission for the five-storey plan for 98 Merrion Road in spite of strong local opposition.

Merrion Road, Dublin 4
Merrion Road, Dublin 4
Image: Google Maps

PROPERTY FIRM BARTRA Capital has secured planning permission for contentious plans for a €25 million shared co-living scheme for a site on Merrion Road in Dublin 4.

Bartra has secured planning for the five-storey plan for 98 Merrion Road in spite of strong local opposition.

The firm was seeking planning permission for 111 bed spaces.

However, Dublin City Council has included a condition that requires the omission of 18 bed spaces contained in 12 single and double bedrooms after finding that the communal spaces in the scheme are inadequate to serve each of the floors.

The council planner’s report described the level of communal space as “unacceptable” for the scheme, stating that it would lead to “substandard accommodation” for the residents.

As a result, it has ordered the omission of 18 bed spaces in the interests of residential amenity, resulting in planning for 93 bed spaces.

The council stated that the omission of the rooms provides for an additional 204 sq-m in communal space which will increase the level of communal space from 3.63 sq-m per person to 6.5 sq-m per person.

The council said the shared living scheme is the first proposed for the D4 area, which, it stated “has a large number of employers within walking and cycling distance and with good transport links and as such complies with the requirements for a shared living scheme”.

The Bartra Capital plan attracted 38 objections including ones from the former CEO of Aryzta, Kevin Toland, and his wife Aisling, who like other objectors such as Labour Senator Ivana Bacik, had expressed fears related to Covid-19.

In their objection, the Tolands who live on Merrion Road, told the council: “Covid-19 has struck every country in the world, the very nature of co-living would have the potential of spreading the virus even further. It could endanger the local community at large.”

Others to weigh in with objections against the plan include the Shrewsbury Rd Residential and Environmental Protection Association (SRREPA), Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe and Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews TD.

Senator Bacik today said she was “disappointed” with the decision “particularly in light of the announcement by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, that he intends to restrict future co-living development”.

Bacik stated: “Co-living developments are not suitable as a way of resolving the housing crisis even in normal times; and even more unsuitable during the Covid-19 crisis, as communal living with shared facilities makes social distancing impossible.”

Planning consultants for Bartra told the council in October that, assuming a grant of permission, it will be three years before the building is ready for occupation and “at that juncture, we are very hopeful that Covid-19 will not be a relevant factor in the day to day operation of the building”.

Consultant Occupational & Environmental Physician, Dr Martin Hogan, drew up a Covid-19 risk assessment on behalf of Bartra and stated that the degree of thought put into Covid-19 controls in the scheme “is excellent and exceeds anything I have seen before in a residential setting”.

Richard Barrett’s Bartra is to invest €130 million constructing four shared co-living sites in the capital and the Merrion Road scheme is the third to secure planning permission.

Bartra Capital has also secured planning for projects at Dún Laoghaire and Rathmines, while a fourth planned for Castleknock is before An Bord Pleanála.

All projects are unaffected by Minister O’Brien’s confirmation of his intention to restrict further shared co-living schemes.

Site works have commenced at Bartra’s shared co-living proposal at Eblana Avenue in Dún Laoghaire and will be completed late next year.

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The company also expects site works to commence on its Rathmines shared co-living proposal in the first quarter of next year.

Third parties have the option of appealing the Dublin City Council Merrion Road decision to An Bord Pleanála, and Bartra Capital also has the option of appealing against the condition omitting the 18 bed spaces.

A spokeswoman for Bartra Capital declined to comment today on the decision.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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