At community meetings concerns have been raised about the social implications of the huge number of students who are to be accommodated in one particular part of the north inner city. Students are entitled to their parties and social life but when they come in such numbers to areas with families and senior citizen complexes, it will create difficulties.
It is reckoned that currently, between what has already been granted and what is coming on stream, there will be student accommodation for 8,000 students in a very particular part of the north inner city. Dublin Institute of Technology’s Grangegorman campus has indicated it needs accommodation for only 4,000 students, 2,000 of whom will live on the campus. While there is a need in the greater Dublin area for 15,000 places in respect of student accommodation, more than half will go to this particular area in the north inner city. I questioned the Minister for Housing on these valid concerns and also why there is no social aspect in the plans.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to community concerns in those parts of Dublin in which there is an increase in the extent of student accommodation and an increase in the numbers of planning applications for same; and the reason there is no social aspect to the student accommodation.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: My question relates to the extent of student accommodation in parts of Dublin Central, the concerns of the communities and the social implications of so much student accommodation in certain areas.
Deputy Damien English: I thank Deputy O’Sullivan for raising the issue, as we are trying to concentrate on student accommodation as well. We are aware of the fact that, on occasions, development proposals for student accommodation developments can raise concerns at community level. However, the planning system is extremely open and transparent as regards community participation in the decision making process, including the avenue of third party appeals to An Bord Pleanála. While recognising local concerns that may arise, I am sure the Deputy would nonetheless agree that the provision of housing for students is an important and distinct category of accommodation within the overall rental sector in Ireland that has been underprovided for in recent years. This level of underprovision has displaced demand into the wider private rental sector and added to the upward pressure on rents. Therefore, the provision of additional student accommodation is an essential part of the core solution to our current housing issues and this is recognised in the Rebuilding Ireland strategy, which provides for preparation of a national student accommodation strategy; legislative and other initiatives to facilitate the higher education institutes accessing funding by the Housing Finance Agency; a streamlined planning approval mechanism; and maximising potential for purpose-built student accommodation on appropriate higher education institute campuses and public lands.
Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 applies to development projects concerning the provision of dwellings such as houses or apartments. These are different to the type of accommodation complexes often occupied by students over academic terms that have shared facilities and are subject to central management arrangements and do not constitute separate dwellings. However, student accommodation complexes can form part of wider mixed residential developments, including conventional houses or apartments, which would be subject to a Part V process, so each project needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, as occurs with planning authorities. I am aware that Dublin City Council is closely monitoring the development of student accommodation projects so an appropriate balance and mix of housing and tenure types is realised in specific areas of the city in line with the statutory development plan and the council’s housing strategy.
I understand the Deputy’s concerns but many people tell us accommodation utilised by students is needed for other families and would agree with the concept of trying to have much more student accommodation. This would bring more solutions to the Deputy’s community and we could provide better services for students and help them integrate better into communities if they are in purpose-built accommodation.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: Dublin City Council may speak about balanced development but I can provide some figures. It is reckoned that currently, between what has already been granted and what is coming on stream, there will be student accommodation for 8,000 students in a very particular part of the north inner city. Dublin Institute of Technology’s Grangegorman campus has indicated it needs accommodation for 4,000 students, 2,000 of whom will live on the campus. While there is a need in the greater Dublin area for 15,000 places in respect of student accommodation, more than half will go to a particular area in the north inner city. At community meetings concerns have been raised about the social implications.
Students are entitled to their parties etc. but when they come in such numbers to areas with families and senior citizen complexes, it will create difficulties. They are also in areas with significant drug dealing, so is there any awareness of the increased pressure on addiction services in those areas as the inevitable will come about?
Deputy Damien English: It is unfair to just assume that because an area has student accommodation, it will suffer all these difficulties. That is a little unfair and the wrong view, as it is not borne out by facts. I am willing to consider any facts that the Deputy has in that regard. We are trying to provide purpose-built student accommodation with all the services required for everybody’s sake and for ease of integration. I have no problem discussing that with the Deputy but it would be wrong and unfair to assume that all these difficulties will come about.
There are 1,327 bed spaces under construction, with planning permission granted for 4,741 spaces. Planning permission has been applied for 2,602 bed spaces. There is preplanning of potential projects amounting to another 7,000 bed spaces.
In play there is a total of approximately 18,000 over the next few years. They are not all located in just one spot. I am very familiar with the Grangegorman site. I have been there. It will be a phased development. It should have happened before now, and if we can sort out the finance, it will happen. Not all the 8,000 or the additional 18,000 on top of that will be in the Deputy’s area. It is wrong to assume so. I disagree with the Deputy’s assumption at the start.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: What I described is the reality in areas where there is a high density of student accommodation. We have the list of planning applications and they add up to 8,000. Who is the accommodation for? Students use student accommodation for possibly six months of the year. Who will avail of the space afterwards? It will be profit for the developer in the area. I take the Minister of State’s point that it will move people out of private rented accommodation which will become available to others.
I am struck by the speed and urgency with which student accommodation has been going up. We do not see the same speed and urgency with the other type of housing that is needed. Student populations are transient and are coming into areas where there is already a transient population with private rented and hostel type accommodation, and it is not fair to the families and communities already living there. While I do not object to students partying, that is what they do in reality.
Deputy Damien English: Again, student accommodation has not been an overnight success. I wish it were. These projects have been sitting idle and waiting for funding for many years. We are purposely trying to drive up the amount of student accommodation in cities and areas close to universities and on campuses. We are trying to encourage and provide funding for education institutes to drive on-campus accommodation. The majority will be publicly funded through the education bodies. That is what we want to encourage.
They are managed to a high standard. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, and I have visited some of the new accommodation in UCD and Maynooth. It is built to a very high standard and there are many services on site. Many conditions are attached to them and the student accommodation is designed in a certain way to minimise the disruption which the Deputy claims happens regularly. It is purpose built. I have been in student accommodation all over the area for many reasons over many years. Trust me, it is much better developed in a co-ordinated way and designed for students in the first place and it fits in much better.