Planning permission has been granted for 732 new apartments and co-living units at the Player Wills site in Dublin 8.
An Bord Pleanala has given the green light to the plans from property developers Hines at the 7 acre site, which is also set to include two new public parks.
The proposal includes 492 apartments and 240 co-living units, with the tallest building topping out at 19 storeys high.
Hines were granted permission for 404 new apartments, two duplex, three triplex apartments and four houses at the Bailey Gibson site on South Circular Road last year under fast track planning laws.
A group of locals launched a legal challenge against the Bailey Gibson plan and vowed to do the same if permission is granted for Player Wills proposal.
Residents have raised concerns over a host of issues, including:
- The height and density of the developments being “completely out of character for the area”
- Concerns that all homes will be rental units, with many being co-living
- Potentially unsafe access in and out of the final development
- The way plans are being submitted that would see proposed amenities being the last to be built
- Concerns over the way the Hines engaged with the community about the development
A decision on the Player Wills application is expected to be made by An Bord Pleanala on April 15 while the judicial review of the Bailey Gibson plan will take place from 13 to 16 April.
Locals estimate the cost of legal challenges against both developments could cost upwards of €60,000 and have launched online campaigns to help pay the expensive fees.
Mark Stedman of the Dublin 8 Residents’ Association commented the community feels the proposal is “far too dense and far too high” for the area.
He added: “We feel it should constitute one development in its entirety in terms of planning, pre-planning, submission and everything.
“But what’s happened is it’s been divided up into three areas and certain aspects of it have been pushed down the line, like green space or available amenities, which shouldn’t really be the way it’s done.
“It’s also completely out of character and makes no sense whatsoever.
“There were nearly 200 objections put in against the Bailey Gibson development and An Bord Pleanala’s inspector wrote a 140 page report agreeing with basically everything that we had said and saying that it should be refused on a number of grounds, including the fact that it was completely out of character with the area and utterly too dense for the space that it’s in.
“An Bord Pleanala ignored it and systematically rejected every point that we and their inspector made.”
Mark added that locals have been crying out for the long vacated sites to be redeveloped.
But they fear the fact that all of the units would be build-to-let at rents of around €1,300 per month would lead to a “transient community” that would do nothing to address the housing needs of families.
“We would have no problem if some percentage of the units were available to buy and to have families and young professionals set up roots in the area, we’re all for that,” he said.
“But the fact that the entire thing is build-to-let and the rates that they’re looking at getting are huge, it doesn’t do anything to solve the long-term problem.”
Residents have also raised concerns about access routes into the completed development.
“The designs as they stand right now, there’s a one way system,” Mark explained.
“Once it’s all finished, the Bailey Gibson and Player Wills site will be a variety of one way systems to travel around in.
“The only two way entrance road into those developments will be right next to a small school that feeds out on to Donore Avenue at a bend in the road. Logistically it’s a disaster and it doesn’t make any kind of sense whatsoever.”
Hines have said the current proposals were submitted following extensive engagement with locals but Mark hit back at that claim, saying the open days that were held concerning the Player Wills site “insulted our intelligence” and made no direct mention of co-living.
“There was no mention of co-living at that stage,” he said.
“It was alluded to in terms of communal open spaces, which if you really dig down into it is code for co-living, but it was never mentioned by name.”
Mark stressed that locals would love to see the community expand and would welcome redevelopment of the iconic site but they were united in their belief that the current proposal is wrong for the area.
“The crux of it is we want development and we would welcome families to the area but this is not the way to go about it.”
A spokesman for Hines addressed the concerns raised by the residents in a lengthy statement to Dublin Live.
He said: “At 27 acres in total the master planned site is a very large area – nine times bigger than the size of Croke Park.
“Sensitively designed and gradually rising to include a building of 19 stories at its centre, the total site area can accommodate the heights in a manner which delivers the new homes and sits comfortably within the existing built environment of low rise houses.
“The proposal and introduction of new buildings will change the view at street level and change the existing sky-view, however, the buildings are designed in such a way so as not to overshadow existing buildings or reduce sunlight as they sit between 90 meters to 155 meters from existing housing which is equivalent to approximately 2 – 3 Olympic swimming pools in length.
“These plans are also aligned with the new National Planning Framework which seeks to have 50% of all new homes built within our cities, new building height regulations amended in 2018 and the updated SDRA 12 masterplan for the area, which was agreed with Dublin City Council.”
He added that the overall site will have 40% social and affordable homes and 60% with 8% of the overall scheme being co-living.
“Purpose built rental communities are a long established and very successful model of housing in Europe,” he said.
“Major parts of key European cities such as Berlin or Paris have similar scale purpose-built long term rental communities of this nature, developed and owned by pension funds.
“Many of these communities are long-term, stable and fully integrated into the wider neighbourhood.
“There is nothing in the planning for this scheme to suggest we will not replicate that success here.
“The design includes unpreceded facilities for both the residents and the wider community and indeed elements of ground floor of the restored Player’s Wills building will be dedicated to community use, including a sizeable new community arts facility, similar in size to the Project Arts centre.”
Addressing concerns over access to the development, he said: “Rehoboth Avenue will be widened substantially to improve local access via this point.
“The first planning application granted last year meant access to the site will prioritise pedestrians and cyclists with a reconfiguration of existing road infrastructure and pedestrian access to reflect this.
“The latest application includes 4 new pedestrian access points into the Players Will site from South Circular Road, St Catherine’s Avenue and Donore Avenue to significantly increase public permeability.
“A low-speed internal road network will prioritise bicycle users and pedestrians. There will be a total of 1013 dedicated bicycle spaces – 903 of which will be long-stay and located underground or in secure on-surface bike rooms. 110 short-stay visitor bicycle spaces will be provided at street level.”
He also reacted to concerns over the phasing of the project and that amenities would be built last.
He said: “In reality, this is such a substantial development that requires a very detailed planning process.
“Each phase involves an enormous amount of work, especially the consideration of the factory building which required extensive redesign and a change of plan following consultation with local residents.
“To allocate resources efficiently, it was decided to split the planning applications into three phases. The final application will be submitted in the coming months.”
The spokesman also responded to concerns raised over a lack of consultation with locals.
He said: “A series of Open Days were held on site at the old factory building site in 2019 and 2020 and we are planning another public online event for local residents which will take place in the coming weeks.
“A two-day event held on 18 and 19 July 2019 resulted in the attendance of 800 people over a 48 period.
“The second two-day event was held in March last year – unfortunately the second day of this event had to be cancelled due to the imposition of the first Covid lockdown.
“All the content from these Open Days was put on line and made available to the public subsequently. We had significant follow ups with people attending each of these events who had individual queries.
“Two detailed local newsletters have also been published online and distributed by hand to the local community – we sent out around 1,650 physical newsletters each time to the surrounding community updating them on the Bailey Gibson development in October 2020 and the Player Wills development in January 2021.”
He added that the developer has also engaged with a number of local stakeholders, including the St Teresa’s Gardens Regeneration Board, South Inner City Community Development Association, the Players Please Group and the Love Dublin 8 Community Fair.
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