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Housing campaigners call for ban on co-living schemes due to Covid-19

Protesters say more understanding needed on impact of coronavirus in such facilities

Campaigners and locals held a demonstration on Saturday outside the proposed Fumbally Lane development in Dublin’s Liberties. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy

Housing campaigners have urged the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to recommend that future co-living schemes should not go ahead because of Covid-19.

Campaigners and locals held a demonstration on Saturday outside the proposed Fumbally Lane development in Dublin’s Liberties which was given planning permission by Dublin City Council on March 30th.

The plans by the London-based co-living company, The Collective, involve a 144 bed hotel, a 69 room co-living complex and an events space.

That decision is now being appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

Co-living involves residents sharing facilities such as kitchens, living rooms and leisure rooms.

The petition, through Uplift, calls on the planning guidelines that allow for co-living to be immediately suspended until there is a greater understanding of the impact of infectious diseases such as Covid-19 on residents.

People before Profit councillor Tina McVeigh said a community objection to the Fumbally Lane development will be lodged with An Bord Pleanala on Monday.

“Planning permission for this development was granted at the start of the Pandemic. The irony of that isn’t lost on anybody,” Ms McVeigh said.

“Accommodation that isn’t reasonable outside a global health pandemic we feel is even more unreasonable now. What we want in this area is real homes for people and an integrated and mixed community.”

Among those attending the protest was local Sinn Fein TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon.

The draft programme for government involving Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party mandates local authorities to complete a housing demand assessment to avoid an “over-concentration of particular housing types” including build-to-rent, co-living and student sectors.

However, it stops short of calling for an outright ban on co-living. Cllr Pidgeon said: “The Green Party has always been against co-living. We don’t think it is the sort of planning that we would like to see.

“There is language in the programme for government around making planning more sustainable. This is exactly the sort of thing that should not be happening in a modern planning system.”

Sinn Fein councillor Críona Ni Dhálaigh said all five local area councillors had objected to the Fumbally Lane development.

She added: “As elected representatives we know there is huge public opposition to the concept of co-living and in this community, we have already had our fair share of transient accommodation.

“We are urging An Bord Pleanala to listen to the voice of the community, the voices of professionals, the voices of public representatives and the many emerging voices in communities across the city who have opposed this kind of housing.”