Submission on Co-Living Development at Brady’s Pub

I will be calling for the rejection of the proposed co-living development at Brady’s Pub.

I have huge concerns that the Government is encouraging the development of hostel/dormitory style accommodation for people in their mid-20s and 30s, at extortionate rents, thus limiting their capacity to buy an affordable home in the future. Co-living developments simply prevent the building of real homes for Dublin 15.

After inspecting the application submitted by Bartra Property, and working with Local Councillors Mary McCamley (Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart) and John Walsh (Castleknock), I have made a submission in writing to An Bord Pleanála, and this can be read below.

Submission on Application for Shared Living Development at Brady’s Pub, Blanchardstown (PL06F.305459)

Secretary

An Bord Pleanála

64 Marlborough St

Dublin 1

Dear Secretary,

The SHD application by Bartra Property (PL06F.305459) on 18 September 2019 involves the demolition of the existing 1 to 2 storey public house and restaurant at Brady’s and construction in its place of 198 Build to Rent shared living units (210 no. bed spaces).

We wish to lodge an objection to this development and enclose a fee of €20. Our objection is being made on the following grounds.

The nature and scale of this development is entirely out of character with the permitted and existing pattern of development in the surrounding area, which consists primarily of two storey semi-detached and detached houses. The previous development permitted by An Bord Pleanála at this location consisted of 36 apartments (with 69 bed spaces): the current development is vastly larger in scale involving 210 bed spaces of which the vast majority provide for single occupancy. The height, bulk and scale of this development constitute over-development of a site previously considered suitable for a scheme of 36 apartments.

The site for the development is an outer suburban location well outside the city centre. The Old Navan Road is a suburban cul de sac with mature housing estates consisting mainly of family homes. The site is located at least 8km from Dublin city centre and does not form part of any major town centre. For example, the Blanchardstown Centre is 2.4km distance on the other side of Blanchardstown village. This proposal effectively involves hostel or student dormitory type development and has previously been allowed only in a city centre location or a major town centre. It is entirely inappropriate in a suburban location which is not adjacent to the city centre.

While the scheme may be near public transport, it is not on a public transport line and this does not justify the creation of a co-living development at this location. It is also relevant that according to the National Transport Authority in its presentation to the Area Committee for Castleknock, Mulhuddart and Ongar in September 2019, the train service on the Maynooth line is currently oversubscribed and overcrowded and while plans are under consideration to achieve greater capacity, they will not be implemented for at least three to four years. In this context, where residents of such a projected co-living development will almost certainly be dependent on cars to access essential amenities, the adoption of co-living would actually work to prevent the development of a sustainable community in this area.

The proposal is visually intrusive in its scale and height, towering over the surrounding two storey houses in Talbot Downs, Talbot Court and the Old Navan Road. The development would have an overbearing impact not only on the adjoining residential estates but the small park/green area immediately behind the proposed shared living units. The application would introduce a visually dominant and overbearing structure within a suburban residential environment, which would compromise its existing character and urban quality. Moreover, the proposal would involve the destruction of the vast majority of the existing trees at or adjacent to the site – this is a retrograde step, is environmentally destructive and should not be permitted. This application would be profoundly destructive of residential amenity for existing residents in the area.

The problematic nature of the development is exacerbated by the complete lack of provision for car parking – only two car sharing spaces, including one for deliveries, are provided in a development which will accommodate over 200 people. This also ignores completely the need for any visitor parking which will inevitably be displaced into the Old Navan Road or neighbouring estates in Talbot Downs and Talbot Court. Such overspill on-street parking in a suburban residential area is detrimental to residential amenity and presents a significant traffic hazard. The applicant apparently expects residents of this development not to have any cars, to walk to work regardless of the location of their employment and not to receive any visitors.

The ‘built to rent’ model proposed by the applicant promotes short term occupancy and will lead to transient residents who have no time or inclination to invest in the local community. The transient nature of the development is reinforced by the very high number of single rooms (186): the predominance of one bedroom units and lack of residential choice reflects a failure by the applicant to provide for a sustainable community in this suburban residential neighbourhood. The ground floor and basement rooms offer minimal privacy for residents while the scheme’s communal open space areas will be overshadowed by its own building. It is fair to conclude that the overall character and limited facilities of the development would compromise quality of life for future residents. The excessive number of bed spaces relative to communal areas and kitchen facilities; lack of privacy for occupants of basement and first floor rooms and overshadowing of communal open space highlight the poor quality of this development and the totally inadequate amenity for its occupants. Overall the design of the development is much closer to a hostel, boutique hotel or student dormitory than housing for a sustainable community in a mature suburban area.

As indicated by Fingal County Council in the pre-planning consultation, this proposal contravenes the Fingal County Development Plan 2017-23: more specifically, the height of the development is contrary to Blanchardstown Objective 1 and the scale and character of the development is entirely inconsistent with the RS zoning of this site. This development is not an important element of strategic infrastructure, but a major co-living development of very significant scale, mass and height which is being proposed without any regard for the existing suburban context. The applicant has failed to show that there is an identified urban housing need for shared living at this location as opposed to the development of conventional apartments which had already been approved by the Board.

It is particularly disappointing that such an application is being proposed on a site where there is great potential for sustainable development to meet the demand for housing and where there is an existent planning permission for family sized apartments. It would be entirely possible to develop terraced housing (perhaps on the model of Shandon Court or Oxmantown Road) or own door apartments which would complement rather than conflict with the existing and permitted pattern of development. The applicant has also submitted a covenant/legal agreement requiring that the scheme be retained for co-living for 15 years: it is particularly disturbing that no clarity is offered on what happens then – the site may then be sold off or used for some purpose other than housing which is not indicated by the applicant.

We wish to request the Board to reject this development on the basis that a large-scale co-living development of this kind is entirely inappropriate to a suburban cul-de-sac, is deeply destructive of residential amenities and entirely out of character with the surrounding area. The application is therefore contrary to proper planning and development of the area. Indeed for all the reasons indicated above we believe that this is one of the worst and least justifiable developments to come before the Board in recent years.

Yours Sincerely,

Joan Burton TD, Dublin West

Cllr Mary McCamley, Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart

Cllr John Walsh, Castleknock