An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to €160 million plans for a 698-bed student accommodation development across eight blocks in Goatstown in south Dublin.
The appeals board has granted planning permission in spite of the Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin, and the Minister for State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan, each making submissions in support of locals’ concerns concerning the 'fast-track' Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme that reaches to seven storeys high.
The appeals board also granted planning permission contrary to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council recommending that planning be refused across six grounds.
The scheme is proposed by an Irish arm, Colbeam Ltd of Michael Cox’s UK-based building company, Hollybrook Homes for a site located at Our Lady’s Grove, Goatstown 850 metres from UCD.
A spokesman for Hollybrook Homes said on Tuesday that it welcomed the An Bord Pleanála decision. “The Board has acknowledged that this is an ideal site for student accommodation, just 850 metres from the UCD campus and close to Luas, bus and cycle lanes.
He said: “It will make a previously inaccessible site accessible with a linear park and nature trail with 37.5 per cent of the site in open park space. Work on the €160 million scheme will commence as soon as possible to facilitate students for the 2024 academic year.”
Previous fast track
A previous fast track plan for the site for 132 apartments was granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála, but the permission was quashed by the High Court following judicial review proceedings by a local resident.
In total, the appeals board received 64 submissions mainly from local residents concerning the planned student scheme.
In its decision, the board determined that the scheme materially contravenes the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan in terms of height, density and open space.
However, the board stated that it was justified in granting planning permission for the scheme in terms of the 2040 National Planning Framework which supports increased residential densities and building heights at appropriate locations.
High density scheme
The board inspector in the case, Elaine Power stated the site is capable of accommodating a high density scheme and the proposed quantum of development is appropriate in this instance having regard to the site’s size and the nature of the development.
Ms Power concluded that the proposed development would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would be acceptable in terms of urban design, height and quantum of development and would be acceptable in terms of traffic and pedestrian safety and convenience.
Ms Power also stated that “the scheme results in high-quality usable open space that would benefit the wider community and support the provision of an open space character and a recreational amenity on these institutional lands”.
In her submission, Catherine Martin told the appeals board that “I would like to add my voice and my support to the residents' groups who are making a submission in relation to this development with similar concerns and to urge An Bord Pleanála to give due weight to the issues that have been raised”.
Ms Martin pointed out that the density and height of the proposed development are both in excess of what is permitted in the current Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Development Plan.
Josepha Madigan told the appeals board that from her many interactions with local residents, it is very clear that the community has no intention of blocking housing development in the area for the sake of it. However, Ms Madigan said: “All that they are asking for is a development that benefits both the existing and new communities.
She stated: “There is an underlying concern that this proposal will not achieve this goal.”