SF leader objects to Phibsborough co-living scheme

McDonald says a decision to grant planning permission would be ‘intolerable’

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has entered a planning row over a proposed new co-living scheme for Dublin’s northside.

The Dublin Central TD has written to An Bord Pleanála claiming it would be "intolerable" for planning permission to be granted for the 321-unit shared living scheme on the site of the Phibsborough shopping centre.

The objection is one of just under 20 that has been lodged with the planning board against the scheme proposed by MM Capital, owners of the shopping centre.

The developers lodged their fast-track plan for the redevelopment of the 1960s shopping complex on December 11th last, just 11 days before Minister for Housing Daragh O’Brien signed a ban on further co-living schemes into law.


MM Capital already has planning permission for a €50 million student accommodation scheme at the site. The proposed co-living scheme, which would replace it, would raise the building height by two metres from the existing permission and increase the floorspace by 1,079sq m to 12,235sq m.

In her objection, the Sinn Féin leader said co-living developments were “driven by investors seeking to exploit the high demand for housing and apartments in our urban centres”.

“As a consequence, these developments drive up the cost of that land, making standard residential development in Dublin even more unaffordable. On that basis, granting permission to this development is neither coherent nor sustainable,” she said.

Along with party colleagues, councillors Séamus McGrattan and Janice Boylan, Deputy McDonald said the application ran counter to the November 2020 circular, issued prior to the legislation, where Mr O’Brien effectively banned further co-living schemes.

The Green Party has also come out against the plan. Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan, along with party colleagues, told the appeals board the ministerial ban should be enough to refuse the application.

Community roots

Ms Hourigan said it would “see the area primarily serve the needs of transient/temporary residents over the needs of people who already live in the community or wish to put down roots in the community”.

The Dublin association of An Taisce, along with a number of local residents’ associations, have also raised their concerns about the plan.

Consultants for the applicants said the proposed alterations to the already approved development would “ensure the effective and efficient use of this under-utilised urban site which is highly accessible and well served by public transport”.

On the development’s bedroom design, they said it was “intended to provide a contemporary space for modern city centre living”.

A decision is due from an Bord Pleanála on April 12th.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times