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‘Horrendously out of proportion’: Residents set against 19-storey apartments

Locals take judicial review over SCR scheme of 732 apartments including co-living units

Computer-generated image of a proposed 19-storey tower (at right) at the former Player Wills factory site on Dublin’s South Circular Road.

Plans for a 19-storey tower at the former Player Wills factory site on Dublin’s South Circular Road would be “horrendously out of proportion” with the surrounding two-storey homes, local residents have said.

Hundreds of objections are expected to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála this week against US property group Hines’ plans for the scheme of 732 apartments, one third of which would be co-living units.

The scheme is the second large-scale apartment development the company plans for its South Circular Road land bank.

View of the cigarette factory site from Sandford Avenue as it looks today.
How the view from Sandford Avenue would be after the Hines redevelopment.

Hines was last September granted permission by the board for 416 homes, which included a 16-storey apartment block, on the site of the former Bailey Gibson packaging plant, which adjoins the Player Wills site. Local residents are taking judicial review proceedings against the board’s decision.

The Dublin 8 Residents Association said that in combination, the two “colossal towers will plunge Dublin 8’s two-storey homes into darkness”.

It also criticised the lack of apartments for families. Almost 80 per cent of the apartments will be studios, one-bed apartments, or co-living rooms. None of the apartments will be available for sale, with 492 build-to-rent apartments planned, in addition to 240 co-living units.

Hundreds of objections are expected to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála this week against US property group Hines’ plans for the former Player Wills factory site on the South Circular Road, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

“Dublin 8 has become a dumping ground for hotels, student accommodation and Build-to-Let. Government rightly points out these all have their place. But we now need family accommodation and an appropriate level of social and affordable housing for people of all incomes,” association spokesman Joe Clarke said.

Affluent, transient professionals

“This application is almost all Build-to-Let, weighted towards affluent, transient single young professionals, the future demand levels of whom are in doubt in Covid times.” Mr Clarke described the co-living element of the application as “cynical and opportunistic”.

The application was submitted on December 21st, just one day before the de-facto ban on co-living developments came into force. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien in late November announced the ban on new co-living schemes, where shared kitchen and living facilities serve multiple en-suite rooms. However, the ban was not signed into law until December 22nd.

Residents wanted to see the site developed “as quickly as possible” and recognised the need for “high density housing”, Mr Clarke said.

The former Player Wills factory site on the South Circular Road in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Player Wills factory site: The old cigarette factory, built in 1935, is listed on the State’s National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as “one of the rare surviving examples of the Art Deco style in Dublin”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

“But it has to be done right. People want to see appropriate height and appropriate density, done under a proper framework. Developer-led has always proven problematic.”

The current proposal represented “short-term commercial gain over long-term sustainable planning”, he said. “Let’s not allow a white elephant be created in what could be a jewel of modern Dublin.”

Hines said it had undertaken “extensive engagement with local residents” over 18 months prior to lodging its application. In addition to providing much needed housing for the area, as well as community, recreation and cultural facilities, the company said, the development would see the restoration and reuse of the old Player Wills building. The former cigarette factory, built in 1935, is listed on the State’s National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as “one of the rare surviving examples of the Art Deco style in Dublin”.

The deadline for submissions on the application is January 28th.

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‘Horrendously out of proportion’: Residents set against 19-storey apartments

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