4,500 student beds approved under fast-track planning scheme

Student accommodation fast-tracked at UCD and UCC

Permission has been granted for the development of 4,500 student bed spaces and over 7,000 housing units as a result of a fast track planning scheme that the Irish government introduced in July 2017.  

The Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme allows applicants building over 100 housing units or over 200 student-bed or shared accommodation spaces to bypass the local authority development processes and submit their development applications directly to An Bord Pleanála, the national planning appeals board.

University College Dublin (UCD) and University College Cork (UCC) are among those who have applied for permission to develop through the SHD system.

UCD’s January 2018 application for the development of a €300m euro on-campus accommodation complex was the first development approved under this new fast-track scheme. This development constitutes UCD’s largest student accommodation scheme to date, increasing on campus beds from 3,179 to over 5,000.  

In March 2018, UCC received permission to develop a new 255-bed development at Victoria Cross in Cork, just four months after they were permitted to submit their application for development directly to An Bord Pleanála.  

In a strategy launched in 2017, the government pledged to increase the supply of purpose-built student accommodation across the country. However, Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Vice-President Michelle Byrne outlined that “even if all PBSA which is projected is successfully completed”, there would still be a deficit of 16,000 beds,

Student accommodation currently provided by Trinity includes Trinity Hall in Dartry, on-campus student housing, and recent developments such as Kavanagh Court and Binary Hub. However students face steep rent prices in these four locations, with rent in Kavanagh Court and Binary Hub reaching over €900 per month.  

An Bord Pleanála released that by the end of last year they had received 52 valid applications for developments through its new fast-track scheme, 39 of which had been decided on in 2018.  27 of those applications were granted permission to develop. The applications granted permission include a total of 7,102 housing units (in the form of 3284 houses and 3818 apartments) and 4479 student bed spaces altogether.  

Dave Walsh, chairman of An Bord Pleanála, commented on the success of their performance in deciding cases in a timely fashion, as all 39 cases decided in 2018 were done so within the 16-week target for decisions. It is noted, however, that An Bord Pleanála has not met the required decision deadline in close to two-thirds of appeals cases. Walsh attributes this failure to An Bord Pleanála’s transition to their new IT system, but that they have “made strong progress to turn things around in recent months”.

Lily Rice

Lily Rice is a staff writer for Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister PPES student.