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Plans for Cork student accommodation raise fears of 'marauding student gangs'

Cork councillors are to meet with residents on the issue.

CORK COUNCILLORS ARE set to meet with residents over concerns around student accommodation planned for the city.

A student development at Gillian House on Farranlea Road in the city is currently before An Bord Pleanála. Among the fears of some objectors is that the accommodation may lead to “marauding student gangs”, as seen during college or university ‘Rag weeks’.

The Farranlea development will require the demolition of a two-storey warehouse and the construction of a three-storey student accommodation residence with 161 beds.

It would have just 10 car parking spaces, along with bicycle parking.

However, an objector wrote to the council saying that they are a longterm resident in the Farranlea area and believe that student accommodation of this scale “is totally unsuitable in what is predominantly a residential area of Cork city”.

The person says they are “worried and fearful” about living so closed to the proposed accommodation, and about its impact on their privacy, right to light, and natural enjoyment of living in their home.

They also say:

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 13.28.51 Source: Cork City Council

Another objection states that the accommodation “will totally change the character of the area”, and that the number of students will lead to noise levels that “will be detrimental to the peace and quiet of the residents, many of whom are in their senior years”. This person also objects to the amount of rubbish that might be generated by the students.

The objector notes that there have been a number of student accommodations built in Cork and that “enough is enough”.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 13.37.14 Details of the plan Source: Cork City Council

The issue of student accommodation and its impact on the city and residents nearby is one that is high on the agenda for local councillors, according to councillor John Buttimer.

Buttimer told TheJournal.ie that the council doesn’t have sufficient detail in the national development plan with regard to student accommodation and so is developing an amendment for the plan around it.

“We’ve had a draft outline of a report to the strategic planning committee – we’ve met with UCC and CIT and it’s hoped with in the next four weeks we will meet with residents’ groups,” he said.

He said that they thought there were some large-scale developments planned for residential areas that aren’t really appropriate, and councillors have identified some possible locations around the Carrigrohane Road area that would be more appropriate.

Managed and supervised

There are currently 2,500 student beds in the city, and Buttimer said they believe that between existing planning applications and plans that have been flagged there will be another 2,500 – 3,000 over the next eight months.

“We want managed and supervised student accommodation,” he said. “So there will be caretaker staff, and CCTV. We have to try and find better transport, because for example CIT has the ground that would be suitable for accommodation but they don’t have the ability to raise independent money to build. UCC have the money but no land. [It would be good] if we could find a way of harnessing the two of them together and also improve transport links between them.”

Buttimer said that colleges are addressing potential issues around student accommodation. “The colleges and student unions are coming more to the table in terms of trying to address excessive student behaviour outside of the campus particularly. At UCC, new student guidelines passed last month. There are posters in college warning students if they are convicted of violent behaviour etc, they could face a five thousand euro fine.”

He said that there has been “a lot of dialogue” on the issue.

One of the issues the council is looking at is the scale and height intensity of the accommodation. For example, the area around UCC includes many older historical residential areas, and Buttimer said they “want to preserve some of that character so that families and older people don’t feel they could be driven out.”

The student accommodation is “12 months, 24/7″ said Buttimer as they are also used for summer letting. This “can have a negative impact on local areas” due to the “high frequency of people coming in and out with no attachment to the area”.

This issue is addressed in a proposed amendment to the city development plan. It’s hoped this will be with the councillors in the second quarter of 2018.

While Buttimer said he would be surprised if the Farranlea site didn’t get permission, he is trying to identify other sites that would be more appropriate, away from residential areas.

Buttimer said that he understands there is more student accommodation planned for the Washington Street area.

He noted that the student buildings don’t have parking, as there is an assumption that students won’t bring cars. Some objectors have raised concerns about what this would mean for locals and pressure on parking in the areas near the student accommodation.

Read: Locals stall plans from ‘bad neighbours’ Trinity College to rent student beds to tourists>

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