Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD has stated that if planning is approved for the 1,614 ‘build to rent’ apartments on the grounds of Clonliffe College in Drumcondra, Dublin it will only further exacerbate the housing crisis.
The Dublin Central TD is one of 120 parties to make submissions on the contentious €610 million ‘mega’ ‘build to rent’ scheme proposed by the Irish arm of US property giant, Hines.
The vast majority of those to lodge submissions to the ‘fast-track’ scheme are opposed to the plan that is to be made up of 12 apartment blocks ranging from two storeys to 18 storeys in height.
The Holy Cross College Strategic Housing Development (SHD) is to comprise of 540 studios, 603 one bed units, 418 two bed units and 53 three bed units.
One of the objectors, the Clonliffe and Croke Park Residents Association claim that the scheme will have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on the long established community in the area.
Hines has already committed to allocating 20% of the apartments for social and affordable housing.
Documents lodged with An Bord Pleanala put a price tag of €61 million on 161 apartments to be sold to Dublin City Council for social housing as part of the first phase of that commitment.
The final price will be determined if and when Hines secures planning permission for the ambitious scheme.
However, in a strident objection against the apartments, Deputy McDonald stated that ‘build to rent’ schemes are driven by investors seeking to exploit the high demand for housing and apartments in urban centres.
“As a consequence, these developments drive up the cost of that land making standard residential development for Dublin even more unaffordable,” she said.
She pointed out that 70% of the units are one beds and studios.
“This does not meet the housing needs of Dublin Central,” she argues.
Dublin City Planning Officer with An Taisce, Kevin Duff, says the heritage group has serious concern over the scale of the ‘build to rent’ scheme and argues that ‘build to rent’ militates against the fostering and nurturing of the longer term community in the area.
Maynooth academic and housing expert, Rory Hearne said “this mega Build to Rent scheme would essentially be a private enclave set apart from the local area, owned by overseas institutional investors”.
“This is a reversion of 100 years in social progress of land ownership,” he added.
Mr Hearne further claims that the development “is part of a race to the bottom in the Irish housing system” and if approved will give the green light to others to pursue similar type developments.
Requesting an oral hearing into the scheme, Mr Hearne also states that there is in-sufficient units for families in the development.
Former Environment Editor with The Irish Times, Frank McDonald claims in his objection that the ‘overblown scheme’ “is just another element in the ongoing commodification of housing in Dublin for international capital investment, engineered by the property lobby and facilitated by successive mandatory guidelines”.
Mr McDonald claims that the 12 apartment blocks constitute nothing more than Build to Rent (BTR) ‘money trees’ in a landscaped setting.
A number of local residents’ associations have also lodged objections against the scheme.
The Clonliffe and Croke Park Residents Association states that it strongly opposes the scheme “because it would have a catastrophic impact on the long established community into which it is proposed to be located, in terms of its environmental impact and scale”.
The Griffith Avenue and District Residents Association states that “we are a low rise village and this present plan will dominate the area, both in terms of height and style”.
However, in comprehensive submissions on behalf of Hines, planning consultants, Brady Shipman & Martin state that the scheme “provides for high quality residential accommodation close to the city centre and a key public transport corridor”.
Reporting by Gordon Deegan