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Planning Observation on Build-to-Rent Development at Turnpike Lane, 59-69 Drumcondra Road Lower

This is the text of our submission to Dublin City Council concerning the proposed Build-to-Rent development on Turnpike Lane, Drumcondra Road Lower. 


12th April 2022

Planning Department

Dublin City Council Civic Offices

Wood Quay

Dublin 8


RE: Application Number 3485/22


Planning application in respect of

Turnpike Lane, 59-69 Drumcondra Road Lower, Dublin 9


To whom this may concern,

I write regarding the proposal to construct 74 units as part of a “Build to Rent” scheme at Turnpike Lane, at the rear of 59-69 Drumcondra Road Lower, Dublin 9 (Planning Reference: 3485/22).

I would like to first state my view that this site must be used to provide housing. As we face a serious housing crisis in Dublin and the country at large, it is vital that new homes be constructed. However, it is just as vital that these homes be sustainable, high-quality and affordable, providing real options for people to put down roots and live in the area long-term if they wish.

I believe that sites such as this represent a clear opportunity and responsibility to ensure development which produces thriving communities in which a vibrant mix of individuals and families can make a home for themselves.

In this context, I have serious concerns about the “Build to Rent” nature of this application, along with the proposed breakdown of units. Eighty-five percent of proposed units, or 63 out of 74, are either one-bed or studio spaces – with 69% of proposed units being studios.

These figures should be understood in the context of the very high number of one-bed and studio units already proposed for this exact locality. This includes more than 70% of the 1,614 proposed “Build to Rent” in the neighbouring Holy Cross site on Clonliffe Road. This over-concentration of single-bed units severely undermines the scope for residents to put down roots and live in the area for the medium or long term, as the overwhelming majority of new apartments are not suitable for family living, or even for couples to cohabit in.

Through the Holy Cross development, Lower Drumcondra is already seeing what amounts to a new neighbourhood being created with zero opportunity for people to buy or own their own homes within it. Should this proposal on Turnpike Lane also be approved, the potential for new residents to raise children and grow their families within the area would be even further curtailed.

The serious proliferation of “Build to Rent” development proposals in this area and in central Dublin more widely gives serious cause for concern. This approach prioritises short-term individual tenancies at the expense of building long-term communities, and eschews a healthy mix of tenancies in favour of a monolithic dedication to providing only the smallest kinds of units wherever possible.    

When deciding what should be done with the available land in this or any other area, we should be focusing on the long-term needs of the community. Facilitating the construction of only smaller, lower-quality units on the “Build to Rent” model instead ensures that the development of the area will be guided only by the owner’s prerogative to maximise return on their investment.

That prerogative drives developers to do whatever they can to maximise the density of “build to rent” apartments at the expense of size and quality. Existing standards for “build to rent” developments allow for smaller units than would be permissible if the apartments were planned for sale. This means that, even if the owner should one day consent to putting these units up for sale, they will be permanently below acceptable standards for owner-occupied homes.

I would also note this site’s long history of planning applications which have been approved and refused going back to at least 1995. While I have not been able to review all of these proposals in detail, it seems alarming that no productive residential use could be found for this site for 25 years, a significant period of which coincided with a local and national housing crisis. 

Failure to sustainably develop this location has resulted in an apparent choice between yet another “Build to Rent” development and allowing the land to continue to lie idle. Serious questions must be asked about a national and municipal housing policy which has allowed such a choice to arise.

It is my sincere hope that we will ultimately, without too much further delay, see sustainable, affordable housing constructed on this site. However, I fundamentally do not accept that the “Build to Rent” model can provide this. I urge Dublin City Council to closely consider whether the best interests of prospective future tenants, homeowners and communities are best served by a further proliferation of the “Build to Rent” model in Lower Drumcondra.

Yours sincerely,

Marie signature

Senator Marie Sherlock