Plans for Dun Laoghaire student accommodation meet with widespread opposition

Jamie Mc Carron 

Baker Forge Property Ltd

A proposed 276 unit student accommodation building in Dun Laoghaire has been opposed by locals, a nearby nursing home, An Taisce, and received criticism from IADTSU.

The six-story building is intended as student accommodation for the Institute of Art, Design and Technology although IADT’s Student Union has branded the development as “wildly out of touch with what students need.”

IADTSU President, Eoin Hicks Smith, as well as Caoimhe O’Carroll, Vice President of the Union of Students in Ireland for the Dublin region, have launched separate submissions to An Bord Pleanála because they believe that the building will be unaffordable.

Hicks Smith said that “IADTSU anticipates that luxurious amenities at this development, the on-site gym, cinema room and coffee dock will be subsidised by high rents outside the price point of the majority of IADT students.”

He told the College View that although there is a need for student accommodation for IADT students, he thought the current proposal was ridiculous.

“We have gyms within spitting distance of the campus but with the current building plan, people will be paying for the on-site gym out of their rent even if they don’t use it.”

“It’s going to take 90% of the business from some local companies. Lots of gyms and the cinema in Dun Laoghaire will suffer. Students won’t be going because they’ll have to use the one that they already pay for,” he added.

O’Carroll’s submission to An Bord Pleanála on behalf of the USI claimed that the planning applicant, Baker Forge Properties Ltd, was “more concerned with gimmicks and frivolous add-ons than basic student needs.”

Local residents have also taken issue with the planned fast track Strategic Housing Development scheme.

The Baker’s Corner Community Group objected to the development because they believe that the size and design of the building would be “overbearing and obtrusive.”

Planning consultants for a nearby nursing home have also claimed that the building’s six stories will block their residents’ sunlight and views of the surrounding area.

Laura Brock, a founding member of the firm acting as planning consultants on the project, spoke to the Irish Times about the objections raised.

She said that the scheme was “prepared, and the application lodged, with the express support of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology.”

Brock also stated that the development was “intended to be fully affordable and is aimed solely at students of IADT.”

Brock added that “generous amenity facilities are proposed to provide an appropriate environment for IADT students to study, relax and socialise with their peers.”

“Our client would welcome the opportunity to deliver this high-quality scheme for the benefit of the student population of Dún Laoghaire.”

Eoin Hicks Smith took issue with this description, saying that: “their definition of affordable doesn’t mean the exact same as a student’s definition of affordable. I don’t think it’s understood how tight money is or how desperate some people are for accommodation. We don’t need a cinema. A student will get by with a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a sitting room.”

An Taisce, an environmental NGO, has also argued that the building would be a “flight risk” for local wildlife due to its height.

If the scheme goes ahead it will require the demolition of the Bakers Corner Public House and the construction of a replacement pub and two commercial units.

A decision is due on the application in January.

Jamie Mc Carron

Image Credit: Baker Forge Property Ltd