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'Smaller than bedsits': Plans for 'co-living' building spark calls to rewrite apartment guidelines

42 people would share one kitchen under the plans.

The proposed development is in Dun Laoghaire town centre. File photo.
The proposed development is in Dun Laoghaire town centre. File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/Owen J Fitzpatrick

THERE HAVE BEEN calls to rewrite the design standards for new apartments on foot of a developer’s plans to build a block of 208 studio dwellings which would see dozens of people sharing one kitchen.

The proposed Dublin development would be one of the first “co-living” buildings that became permissible under design standard guidelines for new apartments that were introduced in March 2018.

The Bartra Capital Property Group has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to build a five-floor building on Eblana Avenue in Dun Laoghaire.

If approved the plans would see the demolition of all existing buildings on the 2,629 square metre site and the construction of a 6,501 square metre building with 208 “single occupancy bedspaces”.

Now that developers have been publishing their plans to build co-living spaces in the capital critics of the plans are calling for the 2018 guidelines to be revised. Some critics have said that the plans are not a solution to the housing crisis and they fear some co-living spaces would not provide a sufficient long-term standard of living.

The plans show that each floor would have its own kitchen and dining area and a separate living room area.

This means that the second floor would see 42 people sharing one kitchen. The first and third floors would each have one kitchen for 40 people and the 38 people living on the fourth floor would also share one kitchen.

The vast majority of the studio apartments would be 16.25 square metres but the building would also have four studios that would be just over 24 square metres. The proposed building also features a kiosk that would sell food and beverages and an outdoor seating area.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Cormac Devlin said the plans have been met with opposition in the town and have faced criticism from “across the parties” in the council.

“I wouldn’t even call them bedsits they’re so small. The plans show the beds folded up into the walls to save space,” he told TheJournal.ie.

I don’t like the application one bit. Just because it’s in the town centre doesn’t mean we can allow yellow-pack, stack ‘em high, developments.

“It’s a sad indictment of the current state of the market,” he added.

Bartra Capital has branded the concept as ‘Niche Living’ and it has plans for a similar development in Blanchardstown. Both developments were submitted to An Bord Pleanála as Strategic Housing Developments and they are working their way through the fast-track planning process.


Source: HKR Architects/Vimeo

‘Co-living’

While co-living is a relatively new concept to Ireland, it is currently a hot topic in a number of countries which are experiencing housing crises. In the UK, company called The Collective is responsible for a co-living project in London.

Sweden has also seen a boom in co-living spaces due to its own rental issues. Generally there is an emphasis in co-living spaces on living as part of a community, with some shared spaces such as kitchens and dining areas.

In The Collective, for example, included in the rent is internet, all utilities, and even room cleaning. In Sweden’s K9 building, a cleaner is also included for residents. In 2018, the co-living space Node opened in Dublin 2, with 50 people living in a building in Fitzwilliam square and rent for one room costing up to €1,875 a month.

‘Soviet Russia’

The Green Party is calling for the residential guidelines to be rewritten on the back of the plans which councillor Ciarán Cuffe described as “Dickensian in nature”.

“I suspect that even the communal living apartments of Soviet Russia had more generous spatial standards than are apparent in this Planning application,” he said.

Councillor Cuffe has written to An Bord Pleanála urging it to refuse Bartra Capital’s planning application.

With reporting by Aoife Barry

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