Council Briefs: Plans for Former TUD Site on Kevin Street, Herbert Park Site, and Changes to Homeless System Since Covid-19

Development Plan for TUD Kevin Street Site

GA Development wants to build a new 14-storey development of housing and offices on the former Technical University Dublin (TU Dublin) site on Kevin Street, Dublin City Council’s South East Area Committee heard at Monday’s meeting.

The presentation outlined proposals to demolish the TU Dublin buildings (as well as other buildings at Church Lane South and New Bride Street) and construct five new blocks of offices and accommodation.

The plans provide for 53,000 sqm of commercial office space, 329 apartments, a creche, a cafe, communal space and a gym, with underground car parking.

The developer also proposed to provide an exhibition space for the Kevin Street Library and a new public plaza with a pedestrian street connecting Kevin Street Lower to Camden Row.

The proposed housing is 299 build-to-rent homes, of which 130 are studios, 130 are one-bedroom apartments and 39 are two-bedroom apartments.

In line with legislation the developer will also provide the council with 30 social homes. According to the plans they will be 13 studios, 13 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments.

Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey says he wonders if the council is taking a step backwards by providing studio apartments as social homes. “I thought we had set ourselves the target of ensuring that studios were a thing of the past,” he said at a meeting of the full council on Monday evening, which took place after the South East Area Committee’s meeting.

Speaking by phone on Tuesday, Lacey said it was his understanding that the council has a policy of providing homes of at least one-bedroom-apartment size and that many senior citizens’ complexes were being converted from studios to one-beds apartments for that reason.

He says he isn’t against some studios in private housing, but that he thinks the proportion of studio flats proposed for Kevin Street is too high. Studios account for 39 percent of the private homes.

“I am beginning to believe that we have allowed the market to determine housing policy and that has to stop if we are to build a city for people to live in,” he says.

Speaking at the monthly full council meeting on Monday, housing manager Brendan Kenny said the council doesn’t have a policy to always provide social homes that are bigger than studios.

On the contrary, “we are very keen to get studio apartments,” he said. There are 3,000 single people in homeless accommodation in the city, said Kenny, so “in a lot of cases we are asking for studios”, he said.

Changes to the Homeless System Since Covid-19

At Monday’s monthly meeting of the full council, independent Councillor Anthony Flynn, who is also CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless, asked whether some people were expected to sleep rough before they could declare themselves homeless.

“Does the manager accept that requiring a person to sleep rough is the new gateway to [homeless] services?” he asked.

People who are originally from outside Dublin have reported that when they contacted the Dublin Region Homeless Executive’s freephone service, they were refused accommodation, said Flynn.

Some who were not from Ireland originally were instructed to go to their national embassy, he says. One man was told he would be visited by an outreach team in March but they didn’t get to him until May, says Flynn, and he slept rough the whole time.

“There is no question of anyone being told they have to sleep in the street,” said Dublin City Council housing manager, Brendan Kenny.

The council has scrapped its one-night-only system for providing emergency accommodation, he said. “We don’t do one-night bookings any more,” he said.

“So we are asking people from outside the country, and outside Dublin, to provide evidence of their status, of who they are,” he said.

He invited Flynn to email him about individual cases.

Flynn said by phone on Tuesday that the issue he was raising was systemic and he was aware of at least 15 cases where non-Irish people were refused homeless services, which he says amounts to discrimination.

Many of the people had been working in Dublin prior to becoming homeless, he says.

“Up until March, a person with no connections [to Dublin] could be provided with accommodation, on a one-night-only basis, once they had provided ID,” he says.

That system has changed and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive wants the statutory outreach team to witness the person sleeping rough on three occasions if they are not from Dublin, says Flynn.

The new rules have resulted in people sleeping rough, who would never have slept rough in the past, says Flynn, including a female healthcare worker who slept in her car for five nights.

She was told she would be visited by the statutory outreach team he says, but they never showed up.

Homeless staff documented the situation of another man who was trying to get into homeless accommodation, says Flynn, which is allocated by the Central Placement Service (CPS) in the homeless executive.

“CPS told me to call outreach but outreach say they have sent all the information to CPS,” wrote a support worker.

“We have had the misfortune of seeing this guy deteriorate over the last two weeks, he is sleeping rough solely due to the barriers to accessing services.”

Plans for Development near Herbert Park

Developer Derryroe Limited wants to build 105 apartments, 10 aparthotel rooms, and amenities, onto an office building and aparthotel at Herbert Park and Pembroke Place in Dublin 4.

Among other issues, councillors at Monday’s South East Area Committee meeting – who were presented with plans so that their feedback could be forwarded to the deciders at An Bord Pleanála – talked about their concerns at the mooted demolition of the home of a 1916 leader, which is part of the proposal.

Of the 105 apartments at 36, 38, and 40 Herbert Park, 37 would be one-bedroom apartments, 66 would be two-bedroom apartments and two would be three-bedroom apartments, plans say.

The building will range in height from four to 12 storeys over a basement with a sixth-floor roof garden. It would also host a cinema room, gym, studio, lounge and changing rooms.

The developers also want to add 10 aparthotel suites to a recently completed site site at 10 Pembroke Place – and a common room and lobby over two new floors in the aparthotel next door. That would all result in a six-storey aparthotel.

“The development site is underutilised and has the potential to deliver more sustainable residential density and much needed tourist/short stay visitor accommodation,” the planning application says.

To build these, the developers would need to pull down a house at 40 Herbert Park, once home to 1916 leader Joseph O’Rahilly, known as The O’Rahilly.

At Monday’s meeting, some councillors said that concerned them.

“Nobody bothered to conserve the building and put it in as a protected structure bearing in mind its significant historical significance,” said independent councillor Mannix Flynn.

Flynn also said there was “deep concern” over the height and bulk of the building, which would overlook Herbert Park and a children’s playground.

The planning application says there are buildings of similar heights in the area, and casts the overlook as a positive: “Southern building elevation windows and balconies improve passive surveillance to the park”.

Labour Councillor Kevin Donoghue said that he was concerned that the development was mostly one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

“There are families looking for homes in the area, you need to wonder what purpose they [the developers] are looking to serve,” he said.

For now, councillors’ comments are set to be summarised and sent to An Bord Pleanála, with a deadline for formal observations on 19 June 2020 and a chief executive’s report due by 17 July. The public can weigh in until 29 June 2020.

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Authors:

Stephanie Costello: Stephanie Costello is the managing editor and covers the jobs beat at Dublin Inquirer. To get in contact with her, you can email her on [email protected]

Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

Reader responses

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Keith Cullen
at 13 June at 12:24

You'd love a bit of creativity from architects. The replacement building for DIT Keven St speaks to my inner 'meh.' Dull.

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