Tuesday 15 October 2019

Concern over apartments

Dundalk Municipal Council meeting

The proposed apartments
The proposed apartments

Councillors have expressed concerns over plans for a proposed development of 142 apartments which have been lodged with An Bord Pleanala for fast-tracking under the regulations for strategic housing development.

Senior planner Emer O'Callaghan told councillors that a sub mission had been made to An Board Pleanala on March 20 for a development of 142 apartments at Mullagharlin South, just off the Inner Relief Road, opposite the Crowne Plaza.

Planning permission had already been granted for commercial development as part of a mixed use application going back to 2016. While the commercial element comprising offices and research and development units was approved, permission was refused for student accommodation.

This application is for five blocks of apartments comprising 58 one bedroomed, 64 two bedroomed and 20 three bedroomed units, a creche and community room. New vehicular access will be via roadway and new entrance off the R215 Inner Relief Road with pedestrian/cycle link to the Dublin Road.

Ms O'Callaghan said that there had already been a meeting between the developers and the local authority planners and An Bord Pleanala and as a result of the Board's opinion, the design team made amendments to the scheme which were now included in the application.

The difference between this and the previous application is that this is not for student accommodation, she added.

Cllr Emma Coffey expressed concerns that there was little difference between this and the application which had been refused,.

'It just stints of the back door,' she said, saying it seemed like the developer was trying to get 'a second bite of the cherry'.

Cllr Anne Campbell agreed, saying that the plans 'look like a university campus'. She said she'd love to know what the estimated selling price of the apartments will be, expressing doubt if 'ordinary people will be able to afford them.'

'This is for big investors,' she said.

She voiced concern that the developer was proposing that Block 5 should be sold or leased to Tuath/Louth County Council for social housing, saying that it wasn't a good idea to put all the social housing tenants in one block.

'It looks uninviting. It looks like what students would live in. It's near the college and it won't help to sort out social housing in Dundalk.'

Cllr John McGahon wanted to know what was the problem with student accommodation. He fully accepted that the social housing tenants 'shouldn't be put in one block like a colony of lepers'.

Ms O'Callaghan said that An Board Pleanala had held that student accommodation didn't comply with the core strategy of the Mullaharlin Framework. She noted that people who are looking to invest in Dundalk are raising the issue that there are no apartments for people to rent in the town. 'The CEO of PayPal had come out about this, she said. 'This is something that is being talked about and the apartment development does meet with the criteria of the Mullaharlin Framework Plan.'

It was agreed that the councillors would email their submissions so that they could be included with the Chief Executive's submissions due to the tight deadline.

The Argus