More student beds than apartments given go ahead under fast-track system

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy may extend system for a further two years

Bartra Capital Property Group’s proposed development at Eblana Avenue, Dún Laoghaire

More student accommodation spaces have been granted permission this year than any other type of housing under the "fast track" planning system, according to a new report from An Bord Pleanála.

Under the Strategic Housing Development system applications for schemes of more than 100 homes, or blocks of 200 student or co-living spaces, are made directly to the board, bypassing the local authority decision phase.

The system was introduced two years ago to speed up the delivery of housing and was due to remain in place until the end of this year. However, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is considering retaining the system for two more years. A 2½-week public consultation on this proposal was held last month and Mr Murphy is expected to issue his decision by the end of October.

In the first six months of this year, the board granted permission for 1,870 houses, 2,953 apartments, 414 build-to-rent units and 3,094 student bed–spaces.


Most of the student bed spaces, which are generally one-bedroom units with communal cooking, laundry and social facilities, were granted in the second quarter, with 2,805 student units granted from April to June compared with 1,975 apartments and 1,163 houses. All of the build-to-rent scheme were granted in those last three months, with none having been granted in 2018.

Unlike standard large-scale housing estates and apartment schemes, where developers must make 10 per cent of the homes available for social housing, no social housing is included in student or build-to-rent and co-living schemes.

The figures do no include Bartra Capital’s 208-unit co-living scheme in Dún Laoghaire, which was granted permission by the board in recent days.

Even split

Last year there was a more even split between houses, apartments and student beds, with applications for 3,284 houses, 3,818 apartments and 4,479 student units granted.

The 8,331 homes and student beds granted in the first six months of this year were spread over just 31 schemes. More than half of these (16) were in Dublin, with four in Cork, three in Kildare , two each in Meath and Louth, and one each in counties Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and Galway.

The largest scheme granted so far this year was in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, where permission was granted in April to construction firm Gem for 913 houses and apartments. The biggest scheme refused by the board was in the Cookstown Industrial Estate in Tallaght where Bartra Capital was refused permission for 150 build-to-rent units and 222 shared bed spaces in June. A large number of local residents and TDs had objected to the development. The board said the shared bed spaces would “fail to provide an acceptable living environment”.

The board has to date met its 16-week target for making decisions on Strategic Housing Developments.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times