herald

Saturday 17 November 2018

Developer is pricing us out of the housing market, say students

DCU’s Craig McHugh
DCU’s Craig McHugh

Student and housing activists claim a multinational developer is pricing students out of the Dublin housing market by flooding it with luxury accommodation for rich kids only.

Members of the DCU Student Union, the Union of Students in Ireland and Inner City Helping Homeless demonstrated outside the New Mill student residence in Dublin's Mill Street.

There, a deluxe one-room studio apartment - complete with rain-head showers and floor-to-ceiling windows - costs €410 a week, or €1,640 for a four-week month.

The 700-room residence is one of three purpose-built student residences in the capital owned by London-based GSA developers.

The company, operating as GSA Ireland, will have 1,861 student beds in Dublin and 190 beds in Cork by September.

DCU vice-president of education and placement Craig McHugh said the company's Uninest complexes are more like luxury hotels than basic student housing.

Some of their amenities include private roof-top terraces, a bowling alley, cinema and gaming rooms, indoor and outdoor gyms, a fitness studio, a mini golf putting green, a music room equipped with a mixer, drum kit and piano, an outdoor barbecue pit and common room equipped with pool and ping pong tables.

The cheapest rent starts at €189 a week per person sharing a twin room at GSA's Broadstone Hall residence.

Mr McHugh said student activists are outraged at the gold-plated accommodation on offer during the worst housing crisis in the history of the State.

Not only is it out of the reach of students on State grants, even those working a 40-hour week on minimum wage would see more than 70pc of their wages eaten up by the cheapest rent on offer, he said.

Luxury

"Student accommodation should have a good standard but you don't need luxury gyms. This is aimed at rich parents.

"It's pushing market prices up even further."

GSA Ireland development director Aaron Bailey said the market is responsible for rents and GSA is adding to supply.

He claimed "building a more affordable product isn't possible" due to land prices and "strict specifications" imposed by Dublin City Council for various amenities. He conceded "it could be seen as luxury compared to an inflatable mattress in a bedsit."

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