herald

Friday 20 October 2017

UCD wants fast-track planning permission for 3,000 student beds

Cllr Barry Saul has said the approach is ‘undemocratic'
Cllr Barry Saul has said the approach is ‘undemocratic'

University College Dublin is aiming to fast-track planning permission for more than 3,000 student beds under Government measures aimed at ending the housing crisis.

It has formally signalled its intention to bypass normal procedures by applying directly to An Bord Pleanala for the substantial campus development.

The proposal includes seven apartment blocks ranging in height from five to 10-storeys on a number of land parcels in Belfield, Dublin 4.

In total, the development will take up nearly 100,000sqm and include a mix of apartment, studio and retail units.

However, the project faces opposition from local representatives who believe their concerns are being ignored.

Fine Gael councillor Barry Saul told the Herald he believes the college's approach is "undemocratic". Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is in the process of developing a Local Area Plan (LAP) for UCD but it is unlikely to come into force for two years.

"I've no problem with student accommodation in UCD," said Mr Saul. "It's a good idea. It will free up housing in many communities. But given this is going to be phased in, I don't think they are under any pressure in terms of timescale. We could have started the LAP to do joined-up thinking."

The UCD plan includes the demolition of a number of buildings, including protected structures, a former chapel and the UCD Confucius Institute.

The university wants to build 426 multi-resident apartments, 60 studio apartments and 12 "halls of residence".

Facilities will include an auditorium, dining hall, convenience store, fitness suite and health centre. There will be almost 1,000 parking spaces.

Road

A spokesperson for UCD said: "As required under the Strategic Housing provisions, UCD engaged in detailed and formal pre-application consultation with DLRCC, and subsequently with DLRCC and ABP together. DLRCC will also provide an assessment and recommendations to An Bord Pleanala after the application is lodged, which will inform the board's adjudication of the application."

A notice published by UCD yesterday says the planning permission being sought should remain valid for 10 years. An Environmental Impact Assessment has been prepared for the development which will require a temporary access road from Foster's Avenue.

Temporary fast-track planning arrangements for large-scale housing developments were part of the Government Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, called Rebuilding Ireland.

The regulations came into effect in July and allow developers to submit planning applications for large housing developments, known as strategic housing developments, directly to the planning board rather than local planning authorities.

The new arrangements will apply initially for the period until December 2019.

Once a formal application is lodged with the board, it is required to make a final decision within 16 weeks unless there are exceptional circumstances that justify an oral hearing.

According to the Government's plan, the entire process should take just six months as opposed to the normal 18.

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