Hines gets green light for co-living apartments scheme on Player Wills site

Development in Dublin 8 to include four apartment blocks with one reaching 19 storeys in height

The former Player Wills tobacco factory site on South Circular Road in Dublin, which is set to be redeveloped by Hines for apartments.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

The former Player Wills tobacco factory site on South Circular Road in Dublin, which is set to be redeveloped by Hines for apartments. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Plans for a 19-storey apartment block and co-living scheme at the site of the former Player Wills factory in Dublin 8, have been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála.

The development by US property group Hines is among the first co-living schemes approved by the board since Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien moved to ban their construction.

The application was submitted on December 16th, just days before the de facto ban on co-living developments came into force. Mr O’Brien in late November announced the ban on new co-living schemes, where shared kitchen and living facilities serve multiple en suite bedrooms. However, the ban was not signed into law until December 22nd.

The planning board has given permission for 732 apartments on the site, incorporating the old cigarette factory building. A third of the apartments will be co-living units. The development includes four apartment blocks with one reaching 19 storeys in height.

The proposal for the 7.6 acre site involves the demolition of all buildings on site excluding the original fabric of the factory, which will be extended from four to eight storeys in height.

The planning application faced strong local opposition with more than 180 submissions lodged with An Bord Pleanála concerning the contentious scheme.

The board inspector in the case, Stephen Rhys Thomas, said nearly all those to make submissions were critical of the proposal in terms of height and scale with objectors pointing out the scheme was out of proportion with the local streets and would impact on the visual amenities of the area.

However, Dublin City Council told the board the development was acceptable and would comply with the development objectives of the site.

The board agreed and concluded the scheme would be acceptable in terms of urban design, height and quantum of development.

The board also said it contributed to the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan in terms of delivering compact growth and urban regeneration and was of strategic and national importance due to its potential to contribute to the Government policy to increase the delivery of housing from its current under supply.

‘Deeply disappointed’

The Dublin 8 Residents Association, which had objected to the scheme, said it was “deeply disappointed” and was considering mounting a legal challenge to the decision.

“Frankly there would be more conditions attached if you were extending your garden shed. It leaves local residents with no option but to fundraise to go to the High Court, in what is supposed to be a democratic process,” spokesman Joe Clarke said.

“It contains 240 co-living rooms, which are clearly against national policy but [are] still being waved through and the entire scheme is build to rent, meaning no local people can hope to own their own home in a massive development on their doorstep,” he said.

Gary Corrigan, managing director with Hines Ireland, welcomed the board’s decision. “ Our proposal responds to the significant housing need that exists in Dublin at this time in line with the current policy backdrop now in place to facilitate its early delivery.”

The development would provide “much needed residential accommodation and extensive new amenity, community and outdoor recreational spaces, which will benefit all residents across this development as well as the wider neighbourhood of Dublin 8”, he said.

Three phases

Hines plans to develop its South Circular Road lands in three phases. The first for 416 homes and a 16-storey apartment block, on the site of the former Bailey Gibson packaging plant which adjoins Player Wills , was granted permission by An Bord Pleanála last September. It is the subject of a judicial review by local residents, which is due for decision in June.

As part of his recommendation to grant permission, Mr Rhys Thomas found the site was extremely well connected to public transport links and he was satisfied “that this is a good location for taller buildings and higher residential densities”.

He stated the proposed development “will make a positive contribution to place-making, will incorporate new streets and public spaces”.

The inspector also found “the use of greater mass and height will achieve greater densities with sufficient varieties in scale and form”and because of the two towers’ location within the overall site, “the proposed heights are acceptable and will result in an overall positive visual impact”.

As part of Hines’s social housing obligations, it has put a price tag of €19.7 million on 49 apartments it is proposing to sell to the city council.

The price of the apartments Hines is proposing to sell to the council ranges from €238,828 for a studio apartment to €611,644 for a three-bedroom apartment. With planning granted, the developer and city council can now enter talks on completing the proposed deal.