In recent days, householders in the Clonliffe Road area have been in touch with me expressing their concern about works taking place at 15 – 17 Lower Drumcondra Road.
These concerns centred on the nature of works to the buildings, whether they complied with the ongoing national emergency, was planning permission required and if a change of use for the buildings was required under planning law.
To answer these queries, I first contacted the Planning Enforcement Officer with Dublin City Council to establish whether the planning related issues could be addressed. On foot of those discussions, last Friday (May 1st), I contacted the Deputy Chief Executive of Dublin City Council as I had been advised that the Council and the Homeless Executive were responsible for the works.
The Deputy Chief Executive responded stating that the works did not constitute “a change of use under Planning. The property was already residential.” He further confirmed that Dublin City Council on behalf of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive had taken a lease for the buildings as a Homeless facility for single men. No further information was provided.
I shared those details with householders immediately adjacent to the properties in question which prompted further questions, including length of the lease, numbers of persons to use the facility, what is the management plan, has the relevant fire and safety assessment been carried out.
This morning, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive provided me and other representatives a more comprehensive report which I had been seeking prior to the weekend.
This report reads:
The DRHE commenced using a private property at 15/17 Drumcondra Road for the provision of emergency accommodation for single homeless adults on May 1st and you may have received some enquiries in relation to it in recent days.
I have outlined below the up to date position with this property for your information.
The DRHE have been engaging with the owner of the above property since early March 2020 to deliver additional capacity for homeless single persons as part of the COVID-19 response. The DRHE has negotiated a contract for services for a period of 5 years under a commercial arrangement between the DRHE and the property owners.
The property is being managed directly by the owners of the property Brimwood Ltd under the commercial arrangement with the DRHE whereby the property is made available to accommodate single adults requiring accommodation who are experiencing homelessness until alternative longer term housing solutions via social housing or HAP are available for them. THE avaerage stay at this accommodation is envisaged to be between 3 and 6months. The property is not a hostel and there is no NGO involved in the management of it.
This property has previously provided residential accommodation for a wide range of adults, (singles/couples) working and or studying in the area and it’s use to accommodate homeless persons is not a change of use and the works which involved repair and renewal did not necessitate a planning application.
The use of this residential accommodation allows the DRHE continue to respond to the need for provision of accommodation to enable social distancing, and isolation thereby reducing the public health risk to homeless adults at this time. Placement of single homeless adults to the accommodation commenced on May 1st.
In relation to queries as to a curfew at the property, residents will reside at 15/17 on a full time basis and the DRHE issues a general guidelines of 11.30pm to operators and residents in private emergency accommodation with exceptions where individuals are possibly working late or visiting family and friends.
The Gardai attended the site on a number occasions following concerns raised in relation to social distancing while the renewal and repair works were underway and it was found to be adhering to social distancing guidelines at all times.
The owner’s design team, taking into account Environmental Health guidelines on private rented accommodation, together with the recently issued social distancing guidelines, advised the DRHE this residential accommodation could accommodate approximately 38-40 adults. With the application of these two sets of guidelines, the number of adults in the properties has decreased from 62 to 40 adults which is a reduction in the use/intensification of approximately a third. It was neither the DRHE’s intention or the owners to ever accommodate 120 single adults in these properties.
The DRHE has overseen the installation of 40 beds at the property and ensured that the facility was ready to accommodate individual adults requiring emergency accommodation.
The property is owned by Brimwood Ltd and will continue to be operated by them on behalf of DCC/ DRHE in the provision of suitable residential accommodation for single homeless adults. Staff are on site 24/7.
The District Fire Officer was on site on the 30th April 2020 and the maintenance works to the fire and life safety systems meet the current fire safety standards.
Further questions have already been put to me by local residents and householders living adjacent to 15 – 17 Lower Drumcondra Road. Such queries have been put to the Deputy Chief Executive and the Director of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and I will be updating residents further with the responses I receive. If you have any further questions or queries, please email me immediately at RayMcAdam@gmail.com.
Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Leader, Fine Gael, Dublin City Council
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee