Plan to use Dublin tourist hostel as short-term housing rejected
Enforcement action taken for use of Gardiner Street buildings as homeless hostel
Dublin City Council has begun enforcement action against applicants seeking to use a tourist hostel on Gardiner Street as short-term housing. Photograph: David Ryder/Reuters
Vincent Melinn and Brian Farrell, who were backers of chef Dylan McGrath’s Dublin restaurant Fade Street Social, wanted to use two Georgian houses on Gardiner Street as “stopgap” accommodation for low-paid workers or students trying to find homes in Dublin. They would also cater for contract workers who were spending a short time in the city, the applicants said.
However, the council said the proposal would result in the creation of “studio-type” accommodation that would not comply with the standards of the current Dublin City Development Plan.
Numbers 38-39 Gardiner Street Upper had been owned by Viatores Christi, a lay missionary organisation set up by members of the Legion of Mary. The buildings were used since the 1980s as an ecclesiastical training centre and short-stay accommodation. They had previously been used by various religious orders as a home for young women coming to Dublin seeking work, and as an orphanage.
Mr Farrell bought the houses in 2007 and sought planning permission to use them as a hostel. The council granted permission, but stipulated that they must only be used as a “holiday hostel”.
Mr Farrell and Mr Melinn said they tried to run the buildings as a tourist hostel but found this condition “not to be implementable”.
Following the receipt of a warning letter from the council last December in relation to the unauthorised use of the buildings as a homeless hostel, the businessmen applied last April for permission to have the tourism condition removed, and to use the buildings as short-term accommodation.
Several objections were made to the application, most expressing concern that the houses would be used as homeless accommodation.
An Taisce said there was the potential for the protected structures to be used “as a shelter for those with addictions, or the homeless, or other type of bedsit accommodation” of which these was an “over-concentration in the area”.
Similar concerns were raised by the Mountjoy Square Society and the Mountjoy Community Group.
However, the council said the proposal would set an “undesirable precedent” and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
The current city development plan does not permit bedsit or studio apartments.
However the new plan, currently under consideration by the council, proposes to allow studios in older converted buildings.
Mr Melinn is a director of Prime Steak Restaurant 2012 Limited, the company behind Fade Street Social. Mr Farrell is a former director.