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Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu objects to 'unduly hasty' 100-bed Donnybrook co-living space

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(Westridge Real Estate)

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Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu. Photo: Naoise Culhane

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(Westridge Real Estate)
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(Westridge Real Estate)

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Hazel Chu has claimed that the plan to construct a 100-bed shared living space on the site of Kiely’s pub in Donnybrook “is unduly hasty and poses serious health concerns” in the context of the Covid pandemic.

The Green Party Lord Mayor’s objection is one of over 100 lodged against Westridge Real Estate’s contentious plan, which involves the demolition of the well-known pub in Dublin 4 to make way for the seven-storey development.

The pub has long been associated with author Paul Howard's fictional character, Ross O’Carroll Kelly and was a popular watering hole for rugby fans due to its proximity to the Donnybrook, RDS and Aviva stadiums.

The planning application follows Westridge acquiring the property for €5m plus last year.

The 100 bedrooms on offer will range from 18.2m2 to 27m2 and all rooms are to have a twin bed, a bathroom, a closet and most rooms will have a kitchenette.

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Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu. Photo: Naoise Culhane

In her objection, Lord Mayor Chu contends: “In the midst of a dangerous pandemic where we are being asked to socially distance ourselves, the planned proposal is also unduly hasty and poses serious health concerns.”

Lord Mayor Chu argues that “this number of people living in such close proximity creates conditions that spread disease, which will become further exacerbated if someone becomes ill and can’t self isolate because they share kitchens, bedrooms and lifts."

She argues that in the midst of a homelessness and housing crisis, "co-living is a dangerously complacent attempt to address the crisis in the capital’s rental market.”

The Lord Mayor is one of a number of politicians to express Covid 19 concerns over the plan.

In her objection against the proposal, Senator Ivana Bacik (Lab) states that “it would not be right for Dublin City Council to approve a development that may threaten public health”.

Senator Bacik states that the developer has optimistically provided floor plans which show 20 residents sharing two dining tables. She states: “This is simply not a credible plan in the context of a pandemic.”

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(Westridge Real Estate)

Senator Bacik has told the Council that “100 adults living in single rooms with shared basic amenities during a pandemic does not evoke visions of sustainable communities”.

She also says the developers Shared Accommodation Operation Management Plan “does not adequately address how social distancing and the practical elements of food preparation and recreation time will work for the site".

In his objection, Sinn Fein TD Chris Andrews claims that "a development like this is completely unsuitable in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic. This style of development could very easily lead to a Covid cluster".

Local Labour councillor Dermot Lacey has also hit out at the plan.

He saids the seven storeys "would tower over the single storey homes at Pembroke Cottages".

He argues: “These houses are over 100 years old and embrace a tight knit community. No new complex should be allowed to destroy the quality of life for these residents in terms of loss of height and loss of privacy.”

Cllr Lacey argues that “Donnybrook has been, up to this, an average height village. Recent grants of permission do huge damage to this but none have done so to the extent that this development would, located where it is, at the heart of the village and beside one storey homes.”

He says “such a high number of homes with transient residents is not good for the area and could result in extreme problems for the local community. Donnybrook needs permanent homes for residents who will demonstrate a commitment to the area. The proposal is not right for the area.”

Documents lodged with the planning application state that the applicants are preparing Covid 19 related policies for residents.

Planning consultants for the applicants, John Spain and Associates, state that the site is eminently suitable for Shared Accommodation as it is in the centre of Donnybook village.

Mr Spain states that the '22-24 Donnybrook Rd' proposal would present a more affordable housing solution for graduates and young people who may not have the financial means to purchase their own home or afford the increasing cost of rent in the city.

Mr Spain has told the council that the proposed height and density of the development is considered appropriate for the location of the site which is well served by public transport.

He said restricting the height of the building would be contrary to Government policy.

Mr Spain states: “Overall, the proposed height and scale of the development is considered to comply with good quality urban design principles and provides a quality street frontage at this location and creating a sense of place and identity for Donnybrook village.”

Asked to comment on the Covid 19 and design concerns over the plan, a spokesman for Westridge Real Estate on Thursday declined to comment stating that they cannot comment on live applications.

A decision is due on the application later this month.

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