Councillors call Dublin build-to-rent scheme a ‘monstrosity’

Developer plans to build scheme of 1,614 apartments up to 18 storeys tall on Clonliffe Rd

One of the largest build-to-rent schemes planned for Dublin, a development of more than 1,600 apartments up to 18 storeys tall on Clonliffe Road, has been described as "greedy" and a "monstrosity" by city councillors.

Planners on Thursday briefed councillors on US property group Hines’s designs for 1,614 apartments, 70 per cent of which will be studio or one-bedroom units, on the site of the old Holy Cross seminary.

The archdiocese of Dublin two years ago sold the lands to the GAA for about €95 million. The GAA sold about eight hectares (20 acres) to Hines and is separately building a 200-bed hotel elsewhere on the site, which is close to Croke Park.

The apartments would be built in 11 blocks, nine of which would be between four and eight storeys tall, with one 13-storey and one 18-storey building. In addition, a five-storey extension would be added to the the old seminary building which would also be converted for apartment use.


Hines has submitted its application for the scheme directly to An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Housing Development process, which is due to be discontinued next year.

Several councillors urged the planners to recommend that the board refuse the scheme.

Independent councillor Nial Ring said when the proposed development was initially presented to local residents, about 1,000 apartment were planned.

‘Dramatic impact’

“This monstrosity is going to have a dramatic impact on the area,” he said.

Having a development of this size that was exclusively for renters would create a “transient population” that would not integrate into the community, he said.

“This looks like student accommodation. I have no doubt discussions are going on with DCU and St Pat’s to lease out some of these units.”

Overall, he said, “it is an appalling scheme”.

Social Democrats councillor Cat O’Driscoll also said the large number of studio and one-bedroom apartments made it “feel like a student village and I’m wondering where will we find space for families in the inner city”.

Labour councillor Declan Meenagh said the smaller apartment sizes permitted under build-to-rent provisions were comparable to prison cells.

“Prison cells surrounded by gardens is not what we want. This isn’t sustainable development. The community isn’t against development but they are against this development.”

Green Party councillor Donna Cooney urged the planners to recommend a rejection of the scheme. "It just seems to be an extremely high density, very greedy development."

In its application, Hines said the taller buildings “are positioned along the main entry routes within the site. These landmark buildings create focal points along the routes to the different neighbourhoods”.

Hines said the proposed development responds to the demand and demographic of the area, where 51 per cent of households are either single occupancy or couples without children.

The apartment mix is future-proofed, it said, and the design can respond to market demand where two one-bed units could be converted into three-bed units.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times