Planning permission for Halls expansion approved despite complaints

An Bord Pleanála has approved the introduction of 358 student bed spaces at Trinity Hall

College has received approval from An Bord Pleanála for the introduction of 358 bed spaces for students at Trinity Hall (Halls).

The approval for the new bed spaces comes despite Dartry residents’ complaints about antisocial behavior from students in the area. 

Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for College said that it “welcomes the recent decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant permission” for the demolition of Cunningham House and Sports Hall and the construction of new student accommodation with 358 bed spaces, four staff apartments and a replacement Sports Hall.

College emphasised that this is an “important project for the College to provide accommodation for its student base”.

Previously, residents of Dartry moved to block the proposed bed spaces in Halls over allegations of drunken behavior, such as urinating on the street, shouting, and leaving empty bottles and cans outside, as reported by the Irish Examiner.

Despite complaints, the appeals board granted permission to College for the new development in Dartry.

The appeals board said that the development of Trinity Hall “would constitute an acceptable scale of development in this urban area” and that it must “not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area”.

Consultants for Trinity reportedly told An Bord Pleanála that the proposal will “deliver and operate a best in class student residential scheme at Trinity Hall”.

The proposed expansion is expected to increase the number of available spaces in Halls from 995 to 1,283.

Most of the residents in Halls are first years. It also houses second year students who are elected to the Junior Common Room (JCR), which oversees student life in Halls, and third year Scholars.

Funding for the 300-bed expansion came from a €100m investment from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in four capital development projects around College in 2018.

Other projects included the refurbishment of the Arts Building, an expansion of the School of Law, and the development of the Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies “E3” institute.

The design process for the development of the new rooms began in 2019.

Speaking to Trinity News at the beginning of the design stage, former Dean of Students Kevin O’Kelly said that it was “very early days to know the construction time but our very preliminary estimates are 26 months, plus a further six for contingency bringing completion to March 2023”.

Several Dartry residents sent in formal complaints to oppose the planned bed spaces, with one household claiming that students cause significant noise and nuisance on a regular basis from 10:30pm onwards, with students “screaming, shouting and urinating on the street” and “leaving a trail of empty cans and bottles” behind them, according to the Irish Examiner. 

Speaking to Trinity News in July, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Eoin Hand said he was “deeply concerned” by the objections.

“In the midst of a National Housing Crisis, the objection from Temple Road residents to the development of further, vital bed spaces for students, along with the threat of legal recourse against Trinity College Dublin is deeply concerning,” Hand said.

“The reported issues of anti-social behaviour and the proposed redevelopment at Trinity Hall are separate matters. The conflation of these issues comes at an opportune time in the planning approval process and are intended to halt this crucial redevelopment, he said.

Despite the complaints, the board inspector Lorraine Dockery told that “many of the matters raised in relation of anti-social behaviour/disruption/littering within the public realm are a matter for An Garda Síochana, outside the remit of this planning application”.

Dockery added that she had no information that would lead her to believe that the noise would be excessive due to the proposed development.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.