Loophole could allow for as many as 3,000 banned co-living units

Hendron's building in Dublin 7

Co-living developments, where tenants share communal living and kitchen facilities, have been the subject of controversy since former Fine Gael Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy amended planning standards to allow for their construction in 2018.

While a ban on such developments came into effect on December 22nd last, some developers were able to rush through last minute planning applications, taking advantage of the gap between the announcement and the implementation of the ban, as well as a clause in the legislation that allows for co-living developments to proceed if planning permission had been sought prior to the ban.

Two such applications were made to An Bord Pleanála for co-living developments in Dublin 7 in late December; at the Hendron’s building at Dominick Street, where developers have sought permission for 280 co-living units, and at Phibsborough Shopping Centre, where the owners have sought permission for a change of use from student accommodation to 321 co-living units as part of their redevelopment of the shopping centre. 

Local residents and political representatives have expressed their opposition to the proposed developments in Dublin 7, with city councillors passing a motion of opposition, proposed by independent Councillor Cieran Perry, to both proposals at a meeting of the Central Area Committee of Dublin City Council on the 13th of January. 

A petition opposing the application at Hendron’s, organised by Dublin Central Workers’ Party representative Éilis Ryan, received significant support from local residents and accompanied  a detailed objection to the proposed development submitted to An Bord Pleanála, highlighting, amongst other problems, the development’s contravention of national policy on co-living, lack of affordability, as well as the issue of public health problems caused by co-living in the context of the ongoing covid pandemic. 

Ryan said “From talking to local residents, I know there is deep concern and a degree of alarm about this proposed development. Residents are keen to see a prioritisation of community amenities and genuinely affordable housing in this area, as opposed to an unaffordable, unsustainable and unsafe co-living block. 

Over 140 local residents have added their signature in support of this objection to An Bord Pleanála. Rest assured this campaign will continue until all plans for co-living development are dropped.”

The objections come as Dublin City Council approved a 91 unit co-living development in Donnybrook in Dublin 4 this week, further highlighting the gap in the recently introduced ban, with estimates that, in total, as many as 3,000 co-living units could be built across Dublin if all such applications were to be approved.