Plans for co-living scheme at protected modernist building rejected

Nine-storey development would have negative impact on Hendron’s Building in Broadstone

Plans for a co-living scheme at the Hendron's Building, a modernist protected structure in Broadstone, Dublin, have been refused by An Bord Pleanála.

Western Way Developments Ltd wanted to build a 280-bed shared accommodation scheme in blocks up to nine storeys high incorporating the 1940s Hendron’s factory.

The former industrial building on Western Way is one of the few modernist buildings on the city’s Record of Protected Structures.

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 period the developers lodged their application with the board.

In their application consultants representing the developer said “due to the changing demographic trends in Dublin and the rising costs of renting, there is a demand for this type of accommodation, and, accordingly, there is a requirement for the proposed development to contribute and address the housing crisis.”

They also pointed out that the development would result in the refurbishment and reuse of the Hendron’s Building.

However, in its ruling the planning board said the proposed development would have a “negative impact” on the protected structure. In particular it said the heights proposed would not be in accordance with Dublin City Council’s policies to preserve protected structures.

Large numbers of local residents and city councillors had objected to the development.

Independent councillor Cieran Perry said the scheme was “developer-led, to maximise profit at the expense of the occupants and the local community”.

Labour councillor Joe Costello said co-living schemes allowed developers to avoid making "any contribution to local authority housing".

His Labour colleague Declan Meenagh said it was "profoundly sad" that no social housing would be provided in the development.

Independent councillor Christy Burke said "co-living is the tenements of the future", while Independent Nial Ring said making the application after the Minister announced his intention to ban co-living "flies in the face of all that's right in planning".

Sinn Féin councillor Janice Boylan said the developer's assertion that there was a demand in the area for shared accommodation was "mesmerising", and said: "we have a rental crisis but it won't be fixed by shared accommodation."