Merrion Square build-to-rent scheme sparks ‘serious reservations’

High number of studios and one-bed units in mix not appropriate for the area, says council

Dublin City Council has expressed "serious reservations" over the residential mix of a planned build-to-rent scheme on Merrion Square.

In July, a company majority-owned by Cairn Homes founder Kevin Stanley lodged plans for the six-storey scheme which includes 19 apartments made up of 12 one-bed apartments, two two-bed apartments and five studios.

The mixed-use commercial proposal by LeFavre Merrion Holdings Ltd also includes a cafe/lounge, yoga studio and gym for a site to the rear of 39-43 Merrion Square.


The application doesn’t include planned improvements to the main structures of 39-43 Merrion Square which will be subject to a separate Section 5 application.


The scheme before the council has been championed by one of Ireland's best-known designers, and Merrion Square resident, Louise Kennedy.

Ms Kennedy operates her flagship retail store on Merrion Square and, in a submission to the city council, the designer said that she “is very passionate about the area”.

She said “the proposed development would bring a new vitality and interest to Merrion Square and Stephen’s Place which would be a very positive development”.

Planning consultant for the applicant Kevin Hughes told the council that the applicant's intention is to operate the buildings "as a best-in-class workplace destination".

Mr Hughes said that the vision for 39-43 Merrion Square “is to provide a unique place to work, live, connect and inspire while embracing the special heritage and history of the five unique Georgian houses”.

Protected structures

Mr Hughes said that the scheme would promote the prolonged use of the existing protected structures on site.

However, the council has now told the developers that there were “serious reservations” over the mix of units for the build-to-rent scheme.

The council said that the disappointingly high amount of studios and one bedroom units was not considered appropriate for the area.

The council has asked the developer to reconsider the number of studios and one-bedroom apartments and consider introducing a greater ratio of two- and/or three-bedroom apartments.

The council also said that the scale of the six-storey-over-basement proposal “would create an undesirable precedent for similar type development”.

The council has asked the developers to reduce the scale and massing of the building to a maximum of five storeys.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times