Tuesday 18 June 2019

Co-living rooms the 'size of a parking space' labelled 'glamorised tenements'

Mary Lou McDonald: ‘Co-living not a solution to housing crisis’
Mary Lou McDonald: ‘Co-living not a solution to housing crisis’
John Downing

John Downing

The Government-endorsed scheme to build co-living apartments has been slammed as a "glamorised form of tenement living".

A proposed development to build 208 studio dwellings outside Dublin drew criticism in the Dáil as the rooms were compared to the size of a parking space.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said that 42 people would be forced to share a kitchen on one of the floors of the proposed five-storey building in Dún Laoghaire.

It comes after widespread criticism of comments made by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who said that young people and workers should be "excited" about the co-living plans.

"It's €1,300 per month for what amounts to glamorised tenement living," Ms McDonald said.

Ms McDonald pointed to a scheme proposed for Dún Laoghaire by Bartra Capital and she criticised the Housing Minister for enthusiastic endorsements of co-living schemes.

"Co-living has no place in our dysfunctional rental market. It is no solution," the Sinn Féin leader said.

"I don't find that proposal exciting in the slightest. Given the public reaction to this project, people in the real world don't find it exciting either.

"Minister Murphy is so out of touch that he can't seem to grasp this co-living isn't an answer to the rental crisis.

"It is an insult to those seeking a safe and secure roof over their heads."

Housing charity Threshold previously described them as 21st-century bedsits with a glossy makeover.

Option

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hit back and said he believed that An Bord Pleanála was unlikely to approve plans which breached Government guidelines. He said there were about five co-living schemes being developed, constituting 1pc of housing developments.

"It's not going to replace traditional housing. But it's another option for some people, maybe young people," the Taoiseach said.

Mr Varadkar accused the Sinn Féin leader of confusing a number of issues. He said the Government was slowly making progress in tackling the housing crisis and house prices have stabilised.

The Government expects up to 25,000 homes will be built this year.

"Of those 25,000 new homes perhaps 1pc, maybe four or five developments, will be co-living," he told the Dáil.

"It's another option for people, particularly single people who don't want a house share.

"They generally consist of studio apartments that are en suite with a kitchenette, and common areas such as a gym, laundry and maybe a movie room."

He added claims that 42 people will share one kitchen were "not in line" with the Government's co-living guidelines.

"I would anticipate that An Bord Pleanála, when it makes a decision on a planning application, would either refuse or significantly modify any planning permission that is not in line with any Government guidelines," he added.

Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett castigated what he described as the "latest ruse" by property speculators who were renting homes.

Mr Barrett argued developers were using some "obscure calculation" to rule out tenants who qualified for housing assistance payment.

Irish Independent

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