Thursday 22 August 2019

Chair of An Taisce fights plans to build high-rise 'shoebox' village for students

Plan: How the proposed €30m Punches Cross student village in Limerick city would look
Plan: How the proposed €30m Punches Cross student village in Limerick city would look
Picture by Shane O'Neill
Rory Tevlin

Rory Tevlin

One of the chairs of An Taisce has objected to a €30m student village which includes 30 build-to-rent apartments, labelling it an "even more retrograde step" than co-living.

An Taisce Limerick chair Michelle Hayes has written an extensive objection to An Bord Pleanála regarding the proposed development of the Punches Cross student village.

It would consist of 326 bedspaces housed in five to seven-storey towers in Limerick city.

"The proposed development is of poor quality with very little outdoor amenity space for the intended 430 transient occupants," Ms Hayes said.

"There are 30 build-to-rent apartments proposed for non-students. These will contain 52 bedrooms, yet the developer refers to 104 bedspaces for the apartments. This suggests renting of shared spaces in bedrooms is proposed.

"This is an even more retrograde step than the controversial shared co-living developments now permitted in certain areas, which have been described as 'Dickensian', whereby rooms are rented with shared kitchen facilities etc.

"As another example of the poor quality of the shoebox apartments proposed, a one-bedroom apartment will be only 47.76 square metres whereas the minimum prescribed apartment size in the Limerick City Development Plan is 55 square metres."

Cloncara Investments Ltd has applied for planning and is awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanála.

In her objection, Ms Hayes said she also had environmental concerns about the land where the development is proposed.

She claims it is a "polluted site" because of past quarrying and a petrol station that had been based there.

Ms Hayes, who is also a solicitor, said she was concerned about any disturbance tanks and pipes creating "even further environmental toxicity risk to the groundwater and River Shannon SAC".

There is believed to be growing opposition to the plans locally, with more than 140 signatures on one petition submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

Developer Derick Walshe said: "We went through all the proper channels in relation to this application. We consulted with Limerick City and County Council planning department extensively. We welcomed their observations and incorporated them into our plan.

"We had a meeting with An Bord Pleanála and also took their observations and concerns on board."

He added: "This development provides much-needed accommodation for students of Mary Immaculate College. The college has over 5,000 students on campus with very little purpose-built student accommodation."

A spokesman for An Bord Pleanála said: "This case was received on June 17 and is due to be decided by October 7.

"The board does not comment on individual cases but it confirms that any submissions made will be taken into consideration in its deliberations on the application."

Irish Independent

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