Property firm Bartra Capital Property has refused to increase the size of bedrooms in its planned €25 million shared co-living scheme for a site on Merrion Road in Dublin 4.
In September, Dublin City Council put the contentious five-storey plan on hold when it requested revised plans from Bartra for its planned 111-bed space plan for 98 Merrion Road.
In putting the plan on hold, the council requested Bartra to review the size of the proposed bedrooms as it had “serious concerns regarding their size and functionality”.
The council stated: “This is particularly relevant given the current Covid-19 pandemic and its implications for shared living.”
The Bartra Capital plan has attracted 38 objections including ones from Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland and his wife Aisling, who like other objectors such as Senator Ivana Bacik (Lab), have expressed Covid-19 fears over the shared living plan.
In their objection, the Tolands (who live on Merrion Road) told the council “Covid-19 has struck every country in the world, the very nature of co-living would have the potential of spreading the virus even further. It could endanger the local community at large.”
However, in response, a planning report lodged on behalf of Bartra stated that the bedrooms proposed are acceptable.
Consultants for Bartra, Thornton O’Connor pointed out that the typical bedroom size in the scheme at 16sq m is already 33 per cent above the standard size.
Pointing to an enclosed expert report on Covid-19, Thornton O’Connor stated that it is clear that the bedroom sizes do not need to be altered due to Covid-19.
The planning consultants state that assuming a grant of permission, it will be three years before the building is ready for occupation and “at that juncture, we are very hopeful that Covid-19 will not be a relevant factor in the day-to-day operation of the building”.
Bartra has employed consultant occupational and environmental physician Dr Martin Hogan to draw up a Covid-19 risk assessment.
In response to the council’s call to increase the size of the bedrooms, Dr Hogan has stated that room size is not a factor in relation to Covid-19 in terms of social distancing where the rooms are single occupancy “and bearing in mind one cannot infect oneself”.
He stated: “I am sure there are many arguments that can be made in relation to what is an appropriate room size, but all I am saying is that in the context of single occupancy rooms, Covid-19 is not one of them.”
Dr Hogan stated that the degree of thought put into Covid-19 controls in the scheme “is excellent and exceeds anything I have seen before in a residential setting”.
He stated: “One would certainly not see anything like it, for example, in a normal apartment block.”
Others to weigh in with objections against the plan include the Shrewsbury Road Residential and Environmental Protection Association, former Irish Sugar MD and Ailesbury Road resident Chris Comerford, Dublin Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe and Chris Andrews TD (SF).
The plan by Bartra will create 100 jobs during the construction phase and 10 jobs when operational.
A decision is due on the plan before the end of the year.