Business Irish

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Friends First plans for short-term lets vetoed

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Gordon Deegan

An Bord Pleanála has delivered an emphatic ‘no’ to property owners seeking planning permission to change the use of their sites to Airbnb-style lettings in Dublin city centre.

The appeals board had earlier refused planning permission to Friends First Life Assurance DAC to let the six apartments at 43-44 Clarendon Street off Grafton Street on a short-term basis.

Friends First said that it had identified demand for short-term letting of the apartments, as they are located in the heart of the city, surrounded by hotels, cafes, restaurants and shopping streets.

However, the appeals board refused planning permission, on the grounds that it would be contrary to the city development plan, which recognises residential units as a scarce resource, and one that needs to be managed in a sustainable manner so that the housing needs of the city are met.

The appeals board also stated that the temporary loss of six apartment units would be contrary to the Dublin Housing Strategy, which requires that the planning and building of housing and residential space in the city contribute to sustainable and balanced development.

In its appeal, Friends First Life Assurance hit out at the planning code’s failure to establish any system for landlords for Airbnb-style lettings. Friends First told the appeals board that “it is compelled to make this appeal for reason of the apparent absence of any method to regularise, under planning statutes, a short tenure of rental for houses and apartments”. 

The company argued that putting the possibility of regularised short-term letting beyond the reach of all landlords defeated objectives to encourage short-term business or leisure visitors to Dublin.

However, a senior planning inspector with the board, Jane Dennehy, recommended that the city council decision be upheld, as the temporary loss of the six apartments in the rent pressure zone would exacerbate the existing shortage in supply and availability of residential accommodation in Dublin’s rental market.

Ms Dennehy said that the proposed change of use was incompatible with the lack of available permanent residential accommodation.

Dublin City Council is actively engaged in increasing housing supply in the city.

The council had refused planning permission earlier this year, after its planner stated that permission would result “in an unwanted precedent for similar development in the area which may then result in the further unacceptable loss of long-term residential rental properties in the locality”.

The council’s planner’s report stated that the proposal “would result in existing residential stock being lost to the residential housing system”.

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