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Co-living scheme with almost 300 units gets green light from An Bord Pleanala on site of Phibsborough Shopping Centre


View of room at co-living development planned for site of Phibsborough Shopping Centre

View of room at co-living development planned for site of Phibsborough Shopping Centre

View of room at co-living development planned for site of Phibsborough Shopping Centre

An Bord Pleanala has given the green light to contentious plans for a 297 unit shared co-living scheme on the site of Phibsborough shopping centre.

It granted planning permission despite Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald arguing that to do so would be “intolerable”.

Her objection was one of almost 20 that were lodged with the appeals board against the scheme on Dublin's north-side by the owners of the Phibsborough Shopping Centre, MM Capital.

The developers lodged their ‘fast track’ plans for the redevelopment of the 1960s shopping complex and in its place to construct the seven-storey development with An Bord Pleanala on December 11 last.

This was 11 days before Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien signed into law the ban on further shared co-living schemes.

In November, Mr O’Brien announced his intention to introduce the ban.

MM Capital already has planning permission for a €50m student accommodation scheme at the site and the new replacement shared co-living scheme will increase the permitted building height by two metres and increase the floorspace by 1,079 sqm to 12,235sqm.

In her objection, Ms McDonald said: “Co-living developments are driven by investors seeking to exploit the high demand for housing and apartments in our urban centres.”

She argued that “as a consequence, these developments drive up the cost of that land making standard residential development in Dublin even more unaffordable. On that basis granting permission to this development is neither coherent nor sustainable.”

Ms McDonald was one of a number of local politicians to object to the scheme with Green Party TD Neasa Hourgian also objecting.

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The Dublin Association of An Taisce, as well as a number of local residents’ associations, also raised concerns over the plan.

In granting permission, the appeals board has reduced the number of shared co-living units from 321 to 297 units.

The board inserted this condition “in the interests of providing a satisfactory standard of residential amenity for occupants of the development”.

Recommending that planning be granted, the board inspector in the case, Una O’Neill, said she was satisfied that “in terms of location and need, there is adequate justification for the provision of co-living/shared accommodation at this location and will provide for an adequate level of residential amenity”.

Ms O’Neill also stated that shared co-living accommodation “should not be viewed as being provided to the detriment of family housing provision or social housing”.

She said shared co-living accommodation “is recognised as fulfilling a distinct housing need under planning policy”.

She said she did not agree with concerns raised that shared co-living “is incapable of supporting working from home”.

The board granted planning permission after planners from Dublin City Council also recommended that planning permission be granted.

However a number of Dublin City councillors had expressed their strong opposition against the plan.

A spokesman for Phibsborough Shopping Centre welcomed the An Bord Pleanala decision saying the decision together with Dublin City Council’s recent grant approval for the redevelopment of Dalymount Park “will see the regeneration of this significant landmark site into a contemporary, inspiring and an exciting destination for locals, sports fans, visitors and shoppers”.

The spokesman said: “Co-living is currently an incredibly popular accommodation choice for young professionals in multiple large US and European cities due to its design and community focus.

“There is a portion of the rental market whose needs are met perfectly by the community and convenience that co-living offers, where purpose built infrastructure and vast amenity space, which is unique to these types of buildings, creates a highly friendly and social environment.”

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