Short-term let plan for Phoenix Park lodge criticised

OPW wants to turn former dwelling of the park’s head deer keeper into a holiday home

Rose Cottage, which dates from around 1800, has traditionally been the home of the Phoenix Park’s head deer keeper, but was vacated in the last decade and has fallen into disrepair. Photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times

Rose Cottage, which dates from around 1800, has traditionally been the home of the Phoenix Park’s head deer keeper, but was vacated in the last decade and has fallen into disrepair. Photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times

 

The use of a Phoenix Park house, formerly the home of the head deer keeper, for short-term holiday accommodation, has been proposed by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The OPW earlier this month sought planning permission from Dublin City Council to refurbish Rose Cottage, close to the Ordinance Survey headquarters in the park, and use it for “short-term holiday letting”.

Planning permission is required to change the use of a dwelling from a permanent home to short-term letting accommodation, and further legislation regulating the use of homes as holiday rentals will come into force on July 1st.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy decided to regulate the sector following concerns the proliferation of “Airbnb-style” rentals in Dublin was reducing the supply of housing in the city.

Rose Cottage, which dates from around 1800, is one of around 40 park lodges, several of which are occupied by park staff. The cottage has traditionally been the home of the head deer keeper, but was vacated in the last decade and has fallen into disrepair. The OPW wants to restore the cottage and remove 20th century interventions, such as PVC downpipes, concrete roof tiles, and modern door and windows and replace them with appropriate “conservation” materials.

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While it said it has not before used any of the park’s lodges for short-term lets, it has leased a number of other OPW properties, around the State, including lighthouses and schoolhouses, to the Irish Landmark Trust (ILT) for holiday lettings.

Rose Cottage, which dates from around 1800, has traditionally been the home of the Phoenix Park’s head deer keeper, but was vacated in the last decade and has fallen into disrepair. Photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times
Rose Cottage, which dates from around 1800, has traditionally been the home of the Phoenix Park’s head deer keeper, but was vacated in the last decade and has fallen into disrepair. Photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times

Sympathetic

“The OPW has worked with the Irish Landmark Trust for several years to ensure that residential heritage properties can continue to be used in a way that is sympathetic to their original design and intention,” it said.

It added that is does have the power to “dispose of properties that are surplus to State requirements on the open market”. However, it said “lodges like those in the Phoenix Park are considered intrinsic to the historic estates, parks and gardens in the care of the OPW and are not disposed. Therefore, in general, these are retained in the ownership of the State.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick said the OPW’s application was “foolish” in light of the housing crisis in Dublin.

“It’s a long-standing tradition that these lodges have been allocated to park constables, rangers and other members of the park staff so that they are close by during emergencies,” she said.

“There are several employees who have had their names on the waiting list for years hoping to occupy one of lodges in the park. Should this application be given the go-ahead to proceed, park employees would no longer be considered to reside in the lodges and instead they would be expected to join the thousands of others struggling to find a home on the private rental market.”

Dublin City Council has told the OPW that its inital application is invalid, not because it is seeking short-term letting permission, but because it underpaid its planning fee by €336. “The correct fee on resubmission shall be €450,” the council said.