Wednesday 20 June 2018

Martin fights plans to build student flats

Fianna Fail leader objects to development in own area - despite being critic of housing crisis

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Picture: Steve Humphreys
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Picture: Steve Humphreys
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is seeking to block the construction of accommodation for 350 students in his constituency, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The revelation comes just weeks after Fianna Fail severely criticised the Government for failing to provide enough housing for third level students.

Mr Martin, who routinely criticises the Government for the housing crisis, lodged an objection with Cork City Council over the development of a state-of-the-art student facility in his constituency.

Local Sinn Fein TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire and Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer have also lodged objections to the development on the Bandon Road in Cork.

The proposed accommodation would consist of five blocks containing between one and eight-bedroom apartments, along with shared studying facilities.

In a letter on official Fianna Fail headed paper, Mr Martin wrote directly to the local authority, insisting that the development of 48 student apartments was "inappropriate and excessive".

He acknowledged that the development was near University College Cork (UCC) but said it was also in the "heart of a predominantly elderly community" along with a "new generation of younger families".

Mr Martin said "the proposition of accommodation for 350 students in this community would be a cause of great concern in the context of anti-social behaviour, noise pollution, traffic congestion" which had been "well documented as having major negative impacts on adjoining neighbourhoods".

He said more student accommodation was needed but insisted that the size of the development was "extraordinary". He also argued that the building would "negatively alter the landscape" in the area.

On August 27, Fianna Fail released a statement on behalf of education spokesman Thomas Byrne calling on the Government to "take responsibility for the student accommodation crisis".

Mr Byrne said the Government was "devoid of any realistic answers" to the problem. "The Government has not been able to offer practical solutions that will help students who are planning the extremely stressful and frustrating search for somewhere to live," he added.

The lack of student accommodation in towns and cities near universities was a major issue for those attending third level education this year. In Dublin city centre there has been a significant increase in the number of student developments that are being constructed.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was criticised when it emerged that he had objected to a housing development in his constituency. Transport Minister Shane Ross has also sought to block houses being developed in his constituency.

A spokesperson for Mr Martin said the objection was submitted because the Fianna Fail leader believed the plans were "inappropriate."

"They are excessive in scale for a former green area that overlooks The Lough which is a very well-known and used amenity," he said.

"There also remains a number of unaddressed concerns about access in what is a very settled and quiet residential area. These completely legitimate concerns need to be addressed.

"Objections to the excessive size of the student block development have been publicised locally on a weekly basis, while concerns and formal objections to the current unamend planning proposal have been expressed by all political parties."

Mr O Laoghaire said he was not opposed to the "principle" of student accommodation in the area but said the "design was wrong".

Mr Buttimer said accommodation was needed but the location for the project was wrong.

Sunday Independent

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