Work on Dublin’s first portable apartments to start in November

Councillors support Fishamble Street apartments despite existing residents’ concerns

 Fishamble Street: Dublin City Council plans to start construction in November on a block of five apartments on a derelict site there. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fishamble Street: Dublin City Council plans to start construction in November on a block of five apartments on a derelict site there. Photograph: Eric Luke


Plans for Dublin’s first prefabricated “portable” apartment block on a site close to Christ Church Cathedral have been supported by city councillors, despite objections from surrounding residents.

Dublin City Council plans to start construction in November on the block of five apartments on a derelict site at 29 and 30 Fishamble Street, previously occupied by two 18th-century buildings.

Site clearance, drainage works and archeological assessment and protection works will take place over the coming months. However, once the site preparation is complete, it is envisaged that the modular apartments will be rapidly installed and be ready for occupation by the beginning of the second quarter of 2019.

The council-owned site had been earmarked for a pilot owner-designed-and-built apartment scheme, but after several years of preparation, this plan was shelved in 2015 and the site has remained vacant ever since.

Two years ago, the council completed its first rapid-delivery modular housing estate in Ballymun to house homeless families living in hotels, and has since completed similar schemes at sites in Finglas, Drimnagh and Darndale.

Modular technology

However, the Fishamble Street development will be the first apartment block using modular housing technology, where the units are prefabricated off-site and then assembled on the ground over a short period of time.

The council first announced plans to install factory-built apartments at Fishamble Street in November 2016 after visiting a “stackable” apartment scheme built by Lewisham Borough Council in south London.

The four-storey apartment blocks on Lewisham High Street were built in 12 weeks at a cost of about £150,000 (€168,000) per apartment. The borough council plans to leave them in place for three years, after which they will be “unstacked” and moved to another location.

The apartments have a 60-year lifespan and are designed to be relocated up to five times. The Fishamble apartment block has been designed for the council by Walsh Associates architects as a small-scale development of a five-storey apartment block with one one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor and four two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors.

Local city councillors on Monday agreed to support the scheme, ahead of its formal approval by the full city council at the start of next month.

However, several local residents submitted objections to the council in relation to the height of the development, the impact of balconies on the privacy of existing apartments, and the detrimental effect on light.

‘Passive supervision’

The council’s planning department said there would be overlooking of the courtyard of the neighbouring apartments but this would offer a beneficial element of “passive supervision” of the area. The development would not cause an unacceptable level of overlooking, or overshadowing of adjacent apartments it said.

“It is considered that the overall design and scale of this development is appropriate on site and will contribute towards the revitalisation of the area, while also securing much-needed housing units within the city centre.”

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey asked that the council continue to work with local residents but said it would be “deeply hypocritical” of him to oppose the development of much-needed homes.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said he hoped concerns about the lack of amenities for families moving into the apartments would be addressed.