Student apartments permitted near Cork’s Lough despite opposition

By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

The construction of apartments for 320 students near University College Cork has been approved, despite local opposition.

O’Riordan’s Joinery on Bandon Rd, Cork, where the four-storey student apartment block will be built. Picture: Denis Minihane

The plan was first submitted to Cork City Council in April of last year, with part of the site on a portion of the rear of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in The Lough. It is mainly located where a joinery business operates, near the junction of Glasheen Road and Bandon Road, and the apartments would be partially visible from the nearby Lough amenity walk.

Lord Mayor Mick Finn represents the South Central ward, where the site is located and was among those who appealed the initial planning permission, which was granted by the local authority in December last.

But An Bord Pleanála gave the go-ahead to Lyonshall (Bandon Road) Ltd, after considering the report of its own planning inspector, who recommended permission be granted.

He examined appeals that included claims of an oversupply of student accommodation in the area. But the inspector felt most student housing referred to was closer to UCC and, while some already existed on the Bandon Rd, said “there appears to be much less student housing to the south of this and in the immediate vicinity” of the proposed site.

Some appeals argued that projected 2019 demand for student accommodation, as set out in last year’s national strategy on the topic, was already met. But the inspector said the projected shortfall of 2,000 beds for students in Cork, by 2024, was a more appropriate context on the question of supply.

The residential nature of the area was a strong factor in many objections, with the lord mayor among those who cited the four-storey height of the project as one of their concerns. He remains concerned about the effect on what is essentially a traditional, residential area.

We all recognise that our third-level colleges are growing and more student accommodation is needed, but it needs to be developed in a more integrated way with existing communities,” Cllr Finn said.

“These things need to be looked at more strategically, from a planning perspective, and there’s hope for that in the new guidelines adopted by the council last month,” he said.

The decision of the board was based on the inspector’s report, which is dated just three days after councillors adopted changes, last month, to policy on student accommodation in the Cork city development plan.

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