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'A kick in the teeth for the community': Another 235 student beds approved for The Liberties

The new beds will be operated by Global Student Accommodation.

PLANNING PERMISSION HAS been granted for 235 student bed spaces and 37 build-to-rent apartments in the Liberties despite numerous concerns being raised by local residents and politicians. 

An Bord Pleanála granted permission to the development at a site bounded by Mill Street, Sweeney’s Terrace and Clarence Mangan Road in Dublin 8. 

The purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) will be provided by international firm Global Student Accommodation. GSA already manages several PBSA units in The Liberties and across the city through its Uninest brand. 

It currently provides over 2,200 student beds in Dublin including 700 at its New Mill and Blackpitts facility, which will be located alongside the new development. 

GSA and other providers have been criticised in the past for the high prices of its student accommodation, with councillors and representatives saying that the prices are out of reach of many typical students.

At the New Mill complex, standard ensuite rooms with a shared kitchen start at €254 per week. A recent report commissioned by Dublin City Council found that 79% of students living in PBSA in Dublin city were international students. 

GSA has defended the high rents in the past, saying that council building regulations and high land costs constrained it from offering cheaper accommodation.

The new development 

Permission was granted for GSA’s newest student accommodation last week by An Bord Pleanála. 

The application was lodged directly to ABP under planning rules introduced in December 2016, which allow developments of over 100 residential units or 200 student beds to bypass city planners and go straight to ABP for a decision.

The complex will be known as Sweeney’s Corner and will consist of 235 student bed spaces and 37 build-to-rent apartments. Previously, planning permission had been granted for a nursing home on the site. 

The student units will be spread over four connected blocks ranging from three to seven storeys in height, while the apartments will be contained in a separate block.

A commercial unit, café and a garden area next to the River Poddle – which runs through the southern region of the site – will also be built. 

There were 33 third-party submissions received by ABP raising concerns about the proposed development. These came from local residents, community groups and councillors and TDs.

PBP TD Bríd Smith, Councillor Tina McVeigh, Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan and Sinn Féin councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh all submitted objections to the development. 

Among other issues, the submissions raised concerns around an overconcentration of student accommodation in the area, the cost of the accommodation, the continuing negative impact that “transient” accommodation was having on the community and the lack of consultation with local residents. 

There are currently 1,058 student bed spaces approved or proposed within 250m of the new development and a total of 3,752 approved or proposed student beds within 1km of the site.

There have been a number of protests in recent months by Liberties residents over planning decisions in the area.

Locals are concerned over the number of hotels and student accommodation units being granted planning permission, while public or affordable housing isn’t being built.

Críona Ní Dhálaigh told TheJournal.ie that the ABP decision was a “kick in the teeth for the community”.

“All that’s being built [in the area] is transient accommodation – student and tourist accommodation,” she said.

It’s one of the oldest living communities in Dublin. It’s taking the heart out of the Liberties community by just building for a transient population.

Ní Dhálaigh said that she and others had no problem with student accommodation being built in the area, but that it needed to be balanced with family homes and affordable housing. 

Ní Dhálaigh said that concerned parties would now look into lodging an appeal over the decision. 

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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