Plans by a second-generation Cork development company to build 216 student beds in one of the city’s most exclusive residential settings by UCC — on Orchard Road, neighbouring a number of €1m-plus private homes — may be advanced after a Bord Pleanála consideration this month.
Ear-marked for the possible student accommodation development by Denis O’Brien Developments is the demolition of the Orchard Road house and gardens called San Paula, which was acquired from its private owner Catherine Neville in late 2017 for €1.9m.
The proposed O’Brien family-backed student apartments site, San Paula, backs onto the extensive, parkland-like, Brookfield Village complex and leisure centre on 11 acres. Brookfield Village was one of Cork’s earliest purpose-built student housing schemes. Rates at Brookfield Village are up to €5,800 pa with shorter summer let options also.
Meanwhile, the newly-branded specialist student accommodation company, ScholarLee, strongly associated with Denis O’Brien Developments, is headed by second-generation developer Denise O’Brien and her husband Shane Keogh.
ScholarLee is currently building student accommodation at the Mardyke by Fitzgerald’s Park, where double en suite rooms are expected to rent at €9,990 pa from September.
Closest to the UCC campus, and first out of the stocks over 20 years ago, Brookfield Village was done in a large portion of the grounds of the period Brookfield House by O’Brien & O’Flynn directors Denis O’Brien and Denis O’Flynn in the 1990s. Brookfield House itself is now owned by UCC, who bought it for £4.5m in the mid-1990s.
Brookfield Village’s own incremental growth led to regular, tense planning interactions and objections between the complex and Orchard Road’s residents over the following decades.
Initially, plans were advanced for nine luxury detached houses on Orchard Road’s San Paula site, which might have been expected to sell for up to and over €1m each, given proximity to medical consultant bases at the just-extended Bon Secours hospital and the CUH.
Relatively recent sales of older houses on Orchard Road topped €682,000 in 2013 as the market started post-crash recovery, and a number have been extended/renovated in the past decade, pitching them into the €1m+category also.
Given there are over 200 student units proposed for San Paula initial overtures for a SHD fast-track planning application have been made, with a direction due from An Bord Pleanála by March 23.
If positive, a full SHD application will follow suit, but may be expected to face local objections.
There’s currently some 2,500 dedicated student beds under construction in the UCC campus vicinity, and estimates say the market will need over 5,000 by 2024.
UCC is on site at the former Crow’s Nest site at Victoria Cross, with 255 beds in the offing. Over 400 went to the letting market last month on the Beamish/Brewery Quarter/Events Centre site with developers BAM in recent weeks, and individual plans for 400-600 bed schemes are in the wings at Carrigrohane Straight Road and Bandon Road.