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Plan for 200 apartments in Phibsborough approved despite council opposition

Dublin City Council had recommended planning permission be refused on a number of grounds.

A mock-up of what the site would look like
A mock-up of what the site would look like
Image: Bindford

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has granted planning permission for a new high-rise development of over 200 build-to-rent apartments on the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin, against the recommendation of Dublin City Council.

The board has approved the application by development firm, Bindford, to construct 205 apartments across three blocks up to 12 storeys in height on the site of the Old Bakery at Cross Guns Bridge in Phibsborough under the fast-track planning process for strategic housing developments.

The plans also provide for a café, shop and new public plaza.

Subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions, the board said the development would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area and was acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience.

The board said it also represented an acceptable quantity and density of development in an accessible urban location.

It acknowledged that granting planning permission for the project would represent a material contravention of the Dublin City Development Plan in terms of building height and provision of public open space.

The height of the tallest block is just over 40 metres, while the council’s development plan sets a limit of 24 metres.

Over 80 submissions were made from third parties including residents’ associations and local TDs including the Green Party’s Neasa Hourigan and Social Democrats’ Gary Gannon with many opponents claiming the height and density of the development were excessive and inappropriate and would overlook and overshadow other residences in the area.

Some commentators criticised the housing mix, where over two-thirds of the development are studio and one-bed apartments, as inadequate and failing to cater for families or older people.

Labour Senator Maire Sherlock said there was a strong local appetite for housing development on the site of the old bakery as it had been lying vacant for years.

However, Sherlock said Bindford’s plans were “not compatible with the amenity of the Royal Canal and totally out of keeping with the character of the area”.

Bindford said the Cross Guns Bridge site represented a highly suitable location for a build-to-rent development in one of Dublin’s most attractive urban neighbourhoods.

The company, which was the subject of legal proceedings between property developer, Greg Kavanagh, and businessman, Luke Kelly and his family in the past, said the development would contribute to public access to the Royal Canal and public open space in the area which would benefit the wider community of Phibsborough.

The site had been placed on the council’s vacant site register in 2017 when it was valued at €3.8 million.

The issue is still the subject of an ongoing High Court case after An Bord Pleanála rejected an appeal by Bindford against the site’s entry on the council’s register.

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Bats and otters

Dublin City Council had recommended planning permission be refused for the development on a number of grounds including the substandard level of open space and its negative impact on the habitat of bats and otters.

The council noted that its concern about the habitats of protected species was also shared by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and Waterways Ireland.

In addition, the council said there was the strong potential for noise impacts from a nearby Irish Rail compound where maintenance work was carried out during night-time hours.

Although council planners noted that blanket height restrictions cannot be applied any longer, they expressed concern about the visual impact of the taller elements of the development.

However, An Bord Pleanála did not accept the council’s recommendation that the three-storeys should be omitted from the proposed 12-storey block.

Under Part V obligations, Bindford is to provide 20 units within the scheme to Dublin City Council for social housing at an indicative annual cost of €321,300.

Average monthly rents for studio apartments in the complex are estimated at €1,400 with rents for one-bed apartments costing €1,750 per month.

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Seán McCárthaigh

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