After Easter, your local City Councillors met to consider the Strategic Housing Development proposal for the Park Shopping Centre site on Prussia Street, Stoneybatter. As outlined in a previous post, https://bit.ly/3dQC3bz, this was a statutory meeting as required under the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016.
This statutory meeting provided your local City Councillors, including myself to offer observations on the planning application and to detail any views that we believe should be included in the Report to be prepared by the Chief Executive of Dublin City Council for the consideration of An Bord Pleanala as part of the determination process to grant or reject planning permission. I published a summary of the discussion that took place previously and you find that information here – https://bit.ly/3eCSMhG. During my own contribution, I highlighted my concerns about:
- The impact of some of the building heights and their proximity to existing properties in Rathdown Square and St. Joseph’s Court.
- Issues surrounding the preparation and approval of a Construction Management Plan.
- The proposed schedule of works and whether existing businesses like Tesco will continue to have the opportunity to trade during the redevelopment works.
- My highlighting the need for a local Consultation Forum to be established as a means of keeping the local community updated of progress and issues arising with regards the development, should planning permission be granted.
This is not an exhaustive list of issues that I raised and I subsequently lodged a formal observation directly with An Bord Pleanala on April 13th last.
Councillors approved the report of the statutory meeting we attended on April 7th in recent days and the text agreed has now been submitted to An Bord Pleanala as part of the formal Report lodged with the Board by the Chief Executive of Dublin City Council. I have outlined below a copy of this report and have highlighted in blue the issues and areas of concern which I raised at the statutory meeting. I hope this information is of assistance to you and I would be happy to answer any questions or queries that you may have in respect of it.
Central Area Committee Meeting, Wednesday, 7th April 2021 at 2.30pm (via Zoom).
Presentation by Klara Crowley, Executive Planner, on planning application SHD0007/21 (ABB-309657-21) for the demolition of the existing Park Shopping Centre and nos. 42-45 Prussia Street, construction of 175 no. residential units (3 no. houses, 29 no. apartments and 584 no. student bedspaces) and associated site works., at Park Shopping Centre & 42-45 Prussia Street, Dublin 7.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions no members were physically present at the meeting but were given remote access to meeting via Zoom.
Members Participating in Meeting:
Cllr Janice Boylan (Chairperson)
Cllr Joe Costello
Cllr Christy Burke
Cllr Declan Meenagh
Cllr Cat O’Driscoll
Cllr Ray McAdam
Cllr. Darcy Lonergan
Cllr Niall Ring
Cllr Anthony Flynn
Cllr Cieran Perry
Cllr Janet Horner
Apologies were received from Cllr Eimer McCormack
Members were concerned about the height and shadowing of proposed development and were critical of the design and visual impact and finish. They were critical of the build-to-rent model which was not reflective of demand in the area and concerns were also expressed that the student accommodation could be converted into co-living accommodation if there was insufficient demand from students in the future. Concern was expressed about the disruption and possible closure of what is in effect a community village during the construction phase and what would be the impact on local community. There were also concerns about the impact on Traffic and sustainable public transport in the area and also in relation to the Construction Management Plan. Members stressed the importance of regular consultations with the local community and local representatives before and during construction phase if permission is granted.
The following is a summary of the issues/comments which were submitted by members via email and text
- The height has increased from 6 storeys in the original application to 8 storeys now. In particular the dwellings in St Joseph’s Court and St. Joseph’s Place appear to be totally dwarfed and surrounded by high rise buildings.
- It was stated that the permission that was already granted was quite dense and this application has increased that again and would appear to be profit driven.
- Concern was expressed in relation to shadowing on the houses on both sides, Rathdown Square on one side and St. Joseph’s Court and Place on the other.
- It was questioned if the height of Parking Provision was above the boundary wall adjoining Rathdown Square as this is of particular concern to the elderly residents who live in these dwellings as from October onwards, they could be in perpetual darkness.
Design and Layout
- It was stated that design coming out onto Prussia Street looks rather ugly and brutalistic and appears to protrude onto Prussia Street and there are concerns with regard to visual impact and finish.
- There is some beautiful brickwork in the buildings around that area and it would appear from drawings that this proposed development is not compatible and seems out of context with those brickwork finishes. It comes across as being very cold in an area with very warm colours.
- The first thing I see when I look at it is a mass of concrete. The streetscape appears dark, intrusive, with excessive density.
- It was stated that some of the presentations in the various photomontages look pleasant enough and the pedestrian way through the shopping centre to Grangegorman looks very well and is very welcome.
- I get nervous when I see plans for installation seating as this can have its pro and cons.
- The renovation of Shopping Centre was welcomed.
Build to Rent Model / Student Accommodation
- This site was always going to be primarily for student accommodation as it shares a boundary with the Grangegorman Campus and it’s a pity that work hadn’t already proceeded in accordance with existing planning permission which was granted for the site before we got a proliferation of student accommodation in this area.
- It’s also a pity that TU Dublin Grangegorman has not yet built its own 2,000 units for which provision was made in the masterplan. We would then have a better idea of what additional student accommodation is required in the area. It was stated that there is already an overconcentration of student accommodation in the area
- It was welcomed that there was no co-living but it was stated that we are aware of student accommodation providers who are effectively operating co-living by the back door. There are several permissions granted in various places to convert student accommodation into long-term tourist accommodation and this is setting a dangerous precedent. It is very concerning when developers build student accommodation which students can’t afford and then when they can’t pay for it they try to bring in co-living by the back door.
- One member stated that she was in favour of the development of site but not happy that it contains student accommodation which could be transferred into co-living accommodation if there is insufficient demand from students and that would be unwelcome in the area.
- Concern was also expressed that in years to come there could be a changeover from student accommodation to co-living in a post-covid world where many students will be studying remotely rather than on campus.
- It was questioned what would happen to the student accommodation during the summer months when students return home.
- Members were critical of the build to rent model which together with the student accommodation being provided will result in a transient population which is not sustainable.
- Members were concerned that there were no units for purchase in the proposed development. It was stated that Build-to-rent model was unwelcome and not reflective of what’s needed in the local community.
- Concern was expressed that once again there was no provision for larger family type units for which there is a demand in this area. This would indicate that the main motive for developers is profit.
- It was thought that this particular shopping centre has had its limitations with regard to Bus Connect proposals due to requirements for vehicle access. Prussia Street is a very narrow street and a one-way traffic system was considered but didn’t get any further due to the presence of Shopping Centre at that location.
- It would be of concern that this proposed development with 111 car parking spaces will prove to be an ongoing obstacle to improving public transport and more sustainable modes of transport in the area.
- It was queried if the car parking and cycle parking provided will be solely for private residents or will it be used for shoppers and general public and if that has been factored into the calculation of overall requirement for cycle and car parking required.
- It was questioned if the new passageway through shopping centre would have any restrictions imposed and who would maintain same.
Impact on Local Community
- It is planned to demolish a whole range of retail units as well as Tesco itself which currently serves as a community village. It was questioned what would happen to those during the construction phase of the development and what is the estimated period for construction. Has the developer made any arrangements for the disappearance overnight of these amenities which are seen as essential for the local community.
- There will be dozens of jobs lost as a result of this proposed development and we as local representatives and those people directly affected need to know if the employees will be redeployed or what arrangements will be made.
- It was stated that under the 2017 Planning Permission that was granted, there would be no disruption to the business of Tesco Shopping Centre and it was questioned if a similar arrangement could be made in this current proposal.
- It was questioned how the proposed provision for retail space compares with the existing provision.
- It was requested that an ongoing planned consultative process between the developer and local community be a requirement of any permission granted for this proposed development.
Part V Social Housing
- It was questioned what would be our allocation for social housing and how would it be distributed throughout the blocks.
- It is stated that there will be 3 social housing units on the site but this is nowhere near enough for the needs of the local community. In this area there is a huge demand for affordable and sustainable housing as there is a lot of overcrowding.
Public Open Space and Amenities
- Concern was expressed that there was no provision for public open space.
- It was questioned if there were any planned improvements in public-realm along Prussia Street as part of this proposed development.
Construction Management Plan
- Concern was expressed about having a proper Construction Management Plan put in place and the need for consultation with the local community with regard to same.
- On page 19 of Construction Management Plan it states that it is proposed to remove 11,000 cubic metres of topsoil and another 2,000 tons of demolition waste material. So you are looking at very heavy construction traffic going in and out every day during excavation works and further heavy construction traffic for demolition work. Given the location of the site it was questioned if an assessment was carried out in relation to the outline Construction Traffic Management Plan.
- The view was expressed that if permission was granted then the Construction Management Plan should be reviewed in conjunction with Transportation Planning Department and Roads Works Control Division. It should not be left to the site manager to review on a monthly basis.
- It was stated that this proposed development once again shows that the SHD process doesn’t deliver new houses but in fact does the opposite of what was intended by the legislation and rewards developers for sitting on existing planning permissions.
- It was queried if there was an analysis of the energy efficiency rating of the proposed buildings and the total energy cost of the construction phase. This is important consideration in the granting of permission in these cases.
Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Leader, Fine Gael, Dublin City Council
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee