Airbnb-style let plan for Phoenix Park scrapped

Concerns raised over proximity to Áras, housing crisis and ‘harassment’ of deer

The OPW earlier this year sought planning permission to refurbish Rose Cottage in the Phoenix Park for  use as a short-term holiday rental. Photograph: James Forde

The OPW earlier this year sought planning permission to refurbish Rose Cottage in the Phoenix Park for use as a short-term holiday rental. Photograph: James Forde

 

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has scrapped plans to use a building in the Phoenix Park, formerly the home of the head deer keeper, for holiday accommodation.

The OPW earlier this year 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. Additional restrictions on the use of homes as holiday rentals came into force in July.

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.

Several objections were lodged with the council in relation to the short-term letting plan, including one from Labour TD Joan Burton, who said the restored cottage should be made available for housing for park staff. She warned that the park’s wildlife, particularly the deer, might be “harassed” by holidaymakers.

Local residents’ group the Navan Road Community Council said the proposal was “wrong” when people were homeless and suggested Garda vetting of guests would be necessary due to the proximity of Áras An Uachtaráin, the US ambassador’s residence, Garda headquarters and Farmleigh House.

Rent pressure zone

The council’s planning department noted Dublin city, including the Phoenix Park, was currently a designated rent pressure zone. “A short-term letting use of the cottage is therefore a material change of use from the established permanent residential use.” There was an “objection in principle to the proposed use”, it said.

A spokeswoman for the OPW said it has withdrawn the planning application as it was “unclear if the planning application, as submitted, would be granted”.

Refurbishment was still required, however, so the OPW has submitted a fresh application for those works only, she said. “We intend to proceed with the refurbishment of the cottage, pending planning permission.”

Rose Cottage, which dates from about 1800, is one of about 40 park lodges, several of which are occupied by park staff. The cottage 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 doors and windows and replace them with appropriate “conservation” materials.

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

It added that is had 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.”