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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Councillor claims regulation needed to stop 'ethnic cleansing' of neighbourhoods because of students

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Rebecca Lumley

A Cork councillor is calling for increased planning and regulation around the development of student accommodation to prevent the "ethnic cleansing" of neighbourhoods.

Cllr John Buttimer said the recent increase of students moving into traditionally residential areas has “changed the fabric of that community” and said there was a lack of social policy around student accommodation.

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, Cllr Buttimer said: “The vast majority of the student apartment blocks that we have are very good and well managed but we don’t have a regulation that requires all student accommodation to be managed and supervised by either a supervisor or a warden.

“Some of the recent applications that have come before us are for high density student accommodation within residential areas, with no management and no supervision. And this is what I’m looking for, that we have a sense of the regulations that are required to make sure that they are appropriate.”

Cllr Buttimer made the controversial “ethnic cleansing” comment at a debate on Monday night and has since said it may have been an “intemperate term”.

“Students are very welcome, student accommodation is needed and the substantive nature of the debate that we had, that I led, was that we need to have planned, controlled regulation of it.”

Over 2,500 student units are planned for the Cork City area, with the possibility of a further 3,000 coming further down the line.

Dublin city is also experiencing a construction boom in terms of student accommodation. In 2015 the Higher Education Authority recommended that 10,500 new student beds should be provided by 2020.

Planning permission has been granted for a number of student accommodation complexes, with 970 beds planned for the Point Village, 250 beds on Pearse Street and a 571-bed complex on Brunswick Street.

Over 8,000 beds in total are planned for central Dublin, with more than half of those within 500 metres of the new Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Grangegorman campus.

The 23 proposed apartment complexes have been met by strong opposition from locals, as the planned influx of students would make up 60 per cent of the population of the Grangegorman area.

Residents are “frustrated and disappointed” by the decision to have such a concentration of student housing in the one area, according to Mary Fitzpatrick, the Fianna Fáil local representative for Central Dublin and former Dublin City councillor.

“There is a lot of frustration and disappointment locally that the only planning applications we’re receiving in Dublin Central are for office accommodation, commercial space, hotels and student accommodation, particularly short term, single unit student accommodation.

“We have no applications for any sort of affordable homes, starter homes, family homes, homes for the elderly. The disappointment is that if there aren’t places for people to live on a permanent basis, that has an effect on the community because we end up with a largely transient population which isn’t conducive to a stable, sustainable community.”

She argued that the Government had failed central Dublin in terms of housing and said that nothing had been done to provide permanent homes for young families attempting to climb the property ladder.

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