€300m student housing scheme approved for UCD campus

The Belfield campus will gain over 2,000 new beds

A €300 million student accommodation complex is to be built at University College Dublin (UCD), marking the first approved development from An Bord Pleanála’s new fast-track planning process.

The development is UCD’s largest single student housing scheme to date, and will increase the college’s on-campus bed spaces available from 3,179 to 5,357. Additional student facilities will also be among the new structures, including shops, cafés, a function hall, gym and health centre in one of the blocks.

The new complex will consist of apartment blocks ranging from five to ten storeys in height, taller than the buildings already in the Belfield campus, in order to add new housing without doubling the amount of space taken up by accommodation buildings on campus.

The development was approved after some significant adjustments by the board. The number of new beds that will become available following the expansion was reduced from the proposed 3,006 to just 2,178 extra.

One of the college’s seven proposed blocks was also omitted by the board, who ruled that the largest of the residential blocks, consisting of three ten-storey tall buildings and 828 apartments, would be “contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

The board also stated that the rejected block’s proximity to the protected structures of Roebuck Castle and Roebuck Glebe would “adversely affect the character and setting of the protected structures”, and have a “significant adverse impact on visual and residential amenities” for the nearby Roebuck Road residential area.

A UCD spokeswoman said the college was “very pleased” by An Bord Pleanála’s decision, and would seek tenders to start construction soon. She also said the university was not precluded from making another application for the Roebuck Road lands in future.

An Bord Pleanála’s fast-track scheme was introduced to reduce the planning time for large-scale developments like student accommodation complexes. The system allows applications for schemes of more than 100 homes or blocks of 200 student bed spaces to bypass local authorities and be proposed directly to An Bord Pleanála.

UCD was granted permission for its complex in just over three months under the new Strategic Housing Development system.

Eoin O'Donnell

Eoin O'Donnell is the current Leader Writer of Trinity News. He is a Senior Sophister History student, and a former Deputy Comment Editor and Deputy Investigations Editor.