Cork colleges told they must help tackle housing challenge

UCC and CIT must step up to the plate and work with City Hall to address Cork’s student housing challenge.

Cork colleges told they must help tackle housing challenge

The call came from Fine Gael Cllr John Buttimer after councillors voted to adopt a variation in the City Development Plan 2015-2021 which he described as the “first step in re-balancing the rights between developers and local communities”.

But there is a lot more work to be undertaken locally and nationally in terms of planning legislation,” he said.

The variation was prompted by an explosion in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) in the city in recent years.

It has led to several objections from suburban communities to a number of student apartment planning applications.

The new variation adopted by councillors on Monday will require new applications for PBSA to:

- include a management plan demonstrating how the scheme will be professionally managed and operated ‘year round’;

- demonstrate how the scheme positively integrates with the receiving environmental and local community and creates a safe living environment;

- demonstrate how the scale of development (capacity) will impact on local residential amenities;

- that PBSA may be used out of term times but not as a hotel, hostel, apart-hotel or similar use;

- and be consistent with the national policy set out in the National Student Accommodation Strategy.

Mr Buttimer said while representatives of UCC and CIT attended meetings of a council policy committee during the early stages of the drafting of the new policy, neither institution made a written submission in relation to the new policy.

“They both need to step up to the plate and identify where they want this kind of development to go and how it will be funded,” he said.

They are creating the demand for student accommodation. They must now take on responsibility for students on and off campus. They have shared resources, in terms of land and money, and must do more in this area.

He said the variation was also evidence of grass-roots democracy and how local people and local communities could effect real change.

He said they will no longer tolerate the relentless demand from developers to put PBSA at every crossroads and every back garden within a 2km radius of UCC and CIT.

More than more than 2,000 PBSA beds were added to the city’s stock in recent years.

Despite the surge, there was a deficit of 1,698 beds last year, with demand at 5,468 but supply of only 3,788.

In 2019 the deficit will be 2,111 beds — a demand of 6,463 but a supply of only 4,352.

Despite the construction of more and more PBSAs, a deficit is still projected by 2024, with a demand of 7,391 and a supply of 5,490 beds.

“This continuing gap highlights the fact that PBSA will not be the answer to all the problems for local residents,” Mr Buttimer said. “There will continue to be a demand for house sharing and for multiple occupancy dwellings.

“The city council and college authorities need to recognise there will always be a demand for ordinary housing in close proximity to the larger third-level institutions and we need to put forward innovative and creative solutions to the problems and challenges associated with this.

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