Friday 20 April 2018

DIT's €500m campus gets planning green light

Katherine Donnelly and Paul Melia

THE first students are expected to start in the new Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in September 2014.

An Bord Pleanala yesterday approved plans for a €500m development of the massive health and education campus about 1km from the capital's centre, on the northside.

While government funding for major construction has been stalled, DIT said it could begin refurbishing protected buildings on the former St Brendan's Hospital complex immediately.

It hopes to have the spacious, Victorian buildings converted to educational use in time to allow about 1,000 students start there in autumn 2014.

Some 20,000 students, currently housed in 39 locations across the city, will be moved to the campus over a six-year period.

The Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA), which is responsible for building the project, said that finance was an issue but it was confident the project would go ahead.

"There's a compelling logic to do this, as one of the difficulties for DIT is they are in 39 locations around the town. This is a part of Dublin which is quite run down, so it has a city-wide impact", said GDA chief executive Michael Hand.

"We're plugging away and just waiting for the breaks. Financially it's a challenge, but it's not impossible. There's talk about using the European Investment Bank and pension funds (to build capital projects) and if that happens, this project ticks a lot of boxes."

The scheme is proposed on a 29-hectare (72-acre) site, home to St Brendan's psychiatric hospital for about 200 years.

Apartments

The plans include a series of buildings to serve the third-level college, healthcare facilities, a primary school and student accommodation, with up to 2,000 bedspaces in apartments.

A new 54-bed facility for psychiatric patients is expected to open at the end of the year

Three so-called 'landmark' buildings, up to 15-storeys high, will also be allowed -- but separate planning permission will have to be secured before they can go ahead.

The site will be served by the €300m link-up of the two Luas lines in the capital, expected to be in place by 2018.

The overall masterplan for the site, drawn up by the GDA with Dublin City Council, was sent to An Bord Pleanala for approval in July last year.

The plans show that 42,000 square metres of healthcare facilities are planned; 270,000 square metres of educational accommodation; another 8,000 square metres of schools libraries and housing for the elderly; and 60,000 square metres of mixed-use development which includes shops and student accommodation.

Local residents objected to the height and density of the development, saying the plans were too vague, while concerns was also expressed by An Taisce about 11 protected structures on site.

Irish Independent

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