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Developer in late bid for co-living scheme on Phibsborough shopping centre site

Application made days before ban on accommodation with shared facilities became law

Development would not see demolition of 1967 office tower as MM Capital does not own the Tesco unit under the tower. Photograph: Tom Honan

The owners of Dublin’s Phibsborough shopping centre are seeking to redevelop the 1960s complex, long regarded as an eyesore, as a “co-living” scheme rather than the student accommodation for which they have planning permission.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien in late November announced a de facto ban on new co-living developments, where shared kitchen and living facilities serve multiple en suite rooms.

However, the ban was not signed into law until December 22nd and in the intervening weeks MM Capital, owner of the Phibsborough shopping centre, submitted an application to An Bord Pleanála for a co-living scheme with 321 single rooms.

The company was granted permission for a €50 million redevelopment of the northside site about two years ago, with accommodation for 341 students in blocks up to seven storeys tall, as well as a three-fold increase in the amount of retail space.

A dispute with the centre’s anchor tenant, Tesco, then arose over access issues which meant the work never got underway. It is understood the new application, which involves alterations to entrances, would address these issues.

The majority of the co-living rooms would be 18sq m, spread over six floors with up to four kitchen and living areas for each floor. There would also be 18 smaller “cluster” rooms that would see three, four and six bedrooms sharing kitchen and living spaces, as well as 16 wheelchair-accessible bedrooms.

The rooms would be built in two blocks of six floors on top of the existing one-storey shopping centre facing on to Phibsborough Road. The development would not see the demolition of the 1967 office tower as MM Capital does not own the unit occupied by Tesco directly under the tower. It would instead be clad in a metal mesh, as permitted under the earlier application.

Planners representing the developer have argued to the planning board that as the site has already been deemed suitable for student accommodation, co-living would also be “wholly appropriate”.

A civic space linking Phibsborough Road to the North Circular Road with access to Dalymount Park football stadium would also be created as part of the development. Dublin City Council, which owns Dalymount, plans a €20 million upgrade to convert it to a 10,000-seater stadium.