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Dublin has a student accommodation crisis, yet DCC grants planning permission for 987 student rooms to rent to tourists

Dublin has a student accommodation crisis, yet DCC grants planning permission for 987 student rooms to rent to tourists

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock

Dublin Central Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has said that while students find themselves priced out of a rental market facing severe shortages, student accommodation operators are being granted planning permission to allow tourist and other short stay tenants during term time, effectively creating another form of co-living in the Dublin Central area.

As well as being galling to students and the community at large, it flies in the face of the Planning Act. Senator Sherlock called on the Minister to fast-track Labour Party legislation which would end this practice and provide certainty to communities.

Senator Sherlock said:“In my own area in Dublin Central, we know that a number of student accommodation operators are charging at least €250 per week and currently have availability for this academic term. Yet we know of students experiencing serious difficulty in accessing affordable accommodation for the college year. My office has been inundated with queries from concerned students and parents. Indeed, those in receipt of the 100% adjacent SUSI grant will see their grant cover less than three months in these student accommodation facilities. If we are encouraging people into further and higher education, we must have enough affordable accommodation to get them there.

“It is crazy that in the midst of this student accommodation crisis, we find ourselves in a situation where 987 student beds across Dublin 1 and Dublin 7 have planning permission to take in both students, workers forced to take short stay accommodation or tourists. Student accommodation operators have claimed that a lack of demand means they should get planning permission to take in tourists and others requiring short stays during the academic term. There can be little wonder about a shortfall in demand for these student accommodation rooms given the very high prices charged by the  operators.

"However instead of ensuring that prices fall to meet demand, Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála have repeatedly allowed operators to keep their prices elevated by broadening who they can offer accommodation to. Not only is this contrary to the Section 13(d) of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act, it makes a mockery of the planning system. It is not acceptable that student operators and their owners can use the planning system to cushion the owner and operator against future losses.  Allowing “flexibility” in the planning status of a site seriously undermines the original intent and purpose of a planning system to shape communities for the long term.  There are serious questions for Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála in approving these planning applications. 

“Labour’s Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 which was published by my colleague Senator Rebecca Moynihan would restrict this practice. If the Minister is serious about addressing the crisis in student accommodation, he should work with us in the Labour party to fast-track this legislation.Ends