€50,000 application fee for student centre

Dublin City Council is requesting “additional information” after Trinity College lodged an additional application for the proposed student centre. This leaves College with a total bill of €54,781.80 in application fees alone for the Luce Hall development, excluding fees for design, architecture and administration.
College have been undergoing plans for the student centre since submitting the initial design to the Council in 2003. The facility is set to include student accommodation, a library, seminar rooms and entertainment facilities with a licensed bar and gig venue. The Director of Buildings, Mr Paul Mangan, says the College has allocated €250k towards bringing the design to this stage.
Despite previous applications being approved by DCC, College decided to lodge modified plans last November to the tune of €16,714.80. Additional proposals include the removal of the existing walls and railings along protected structures in Pearse Street, to the north of Luce Hall.
College have previously sought permission to alter the buildings in Pearse Street, which date back to the nineteenth century. In a design submitted in 2006, permission was sought from DCC to demolish the terraced houses at numbers 183-187. The plans were rejected bar minor refurbishments, despite an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, which upheld the Council’s decision.
This set back a major element of the design proposal, which was to create a new entrance to College, ‘North Gate Square’. It is understood a number of Dublin City councillors are opposing the College’s renewed application to alter the buildings.
After submitting the application last November, DCC have requested further details from College regarding the drainage system, including a professional flood risk assessment in collaboration with the Council’s Drainage Division.
College is no stranger to planning rejections from DCC. Last August College were refused permission to convert a former Victorian banking hall in Foster Place into a large venue. The plans were rejected on the grounds of concerns for alcohol-related social problems. It received strong opposition from public businesses and associations, such as Gary Solan from Architectural Construction Technology, who claimed it would introduce “the more unsavoury aspects of late night revellers”.
The National Trust for Ireland wrote to DCC in support of the student centre plans. Kevin Duff of the Dublin City Association Planning Committee says, “the proposal is an important one on account of the prominence of the site within Trinity College and the city”.
“The overall objective for the city is to create a dynamic, mixed use, visually attractive, world-class city able to compete with other cities on a global basis”, says Duff, quoting from the Dublin City Development Plan 2005-2011.
The development will reconfigure Luce Hall to include a Students’ Union area and a redesign of the building’s frontage. The improved facilities will be added alongside the building’s current use as part of the Department of Botany. Students’ Union Entertainments Officer Mick Birmingham is an outspoken advocate of the development since his sabbatical campaign early last year. “It’s ridiculous that we don’t have our own venue to host gigs”, says Birmingham, “The last time the College tried to build a new student venue- Goldsmith Hall- they forgot to soundproof it, rendering it useless!”
The plans for the 4,400sqm, six-storey development also propose seminar rooms, as well as 8 retail units including a café.
The College Board say the development will bring “significant benefits, not just to Trinity College and the city, but also to the immediate surrounding area”.
“The variety of new and lively uses to the street frontage will assist in its day time and night time vitality”, say the College Board. Board members approved the quarter of a million Euro budget in July 2007.