Approval for student housing to free up rental spaces

Two student accommodation schemes given planning permission in Dublin could free up rental space for almost 500 people in the capital.

Almost 200 students may be accommodated near Dublin Institute of Technology's growing Grangegorman campus

The latest Daft.ie figures show average rents jumped nearly 15% in Dublin last year, reaching €1,664 a month for a three-bed house.

With supply of rented accommodation one of the biggest factors, freeing up space by providing more dedicated student facilities is seen as one solution.

The larger of the two student accommodation developments to be approved is off Cork St in the south inner city, where Greenharts Properties applied last July to build a 41-unit scheme.

With three units replaced by extra science and technology incubator units, the project, which recently cleared final planning stages, should provide bed spaces for more than 270 students.

The plans for Prussia St in Dublin 7 are to build a 32-unit, 203-bed student accommodation centre on a site previously occupied by a used car outlet. 

It is near Grangegorman in the north-west of the city, where Dublin Institute of Technology has begun relocating its activities from various campuses.

The applicants, Balark Investments, were required by the council to remove a floor of one of 13 small blocks proposed to be built around a series of small courtyards, resulting in the loss of six bedrooms from the scheme.

Crucially, Dublin City Council has permitted the use of the student apartments for tourist or visitor accommodation outside of academic terms. Some local authorities have been attaching conditions that restrict such use in permissions for student accommodation facilities, limitations which developers have said have an impact on the viability of prospective investments.

The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan last summer to tackle the housing crisis promised planning policy guidance to local authorities and An Bord Pleanála on the use of student accommodation outside the academic year.

A 2015 Higher Education Authority report found that, even with purpose-built student developments then in the planning process, more than 23,000 students would be competing with other renters by 2019. 

But rising enrolments would see the figure pass 25,000 by 2024.

Plans by Trinity College Dublin for nearly 300 bed spaces on part of its campus were approved by the city council a year ago, but that was overturned by An Bord Pleanála last July. Efforts to facilitate investment in student accommodation by colleges or private developers are being encouraged by a cross-departmental group led by the Department of Education.

However, one of its key recommendations, for tax relief to make it viable for universities to build on-campus accommodation, fell foul of Department of Finance concerns that this would be challenged by private developers under EU state aid rules.


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