Below you can find my submission to An Bord Pleanala in relation to the proposed development of the former Player Wills site on the SCR.
Re: Planning Reference 308917 Strategic Housing Development at the former Player Wills site, Dublin 8
I are writing in relation to the application for planning permission at the above site. While I welcome development of the site and welcome the provision of much needed residential accommodation, I have several serious concerns which we wish to outline in the interest of the long term, sustainable and community friendly development of the site.
The vast majority (almost 80%) of the accommodation plan for the site consist of one-bedroom units with shared living/kitchen facilities – more commonly known as ‘co-living’. The reasons for opposing this type of development are numerous in nature but given the context of the ongoing pandemic the ability to properly isolate and follow government guidelines in the potential future event of a pandemic is perhaps the most obvious grounds for objection. Were such a development currently in operation limiting interactions would essentially be impossible and would result in either a quarantine of the development site as a whole or indeed individual resident timetables resembling some penal system of operation to keep tenants safe. Neither of these would be desirable and indeed both could be avoided with the traditional style of self-contained housing units.
Height of the Development
The planned development consists of two separate buildings of 15 and 19 storeys respectively.
The height is vastly out of sync with the existing two-storey developments in the neighbourhood. As such it would not only present a physical/light obstruction for the surrounding neighbourhood but indeed would lead to a lost sense of privacy with residents in the new development offered a clear view of neighbouring gardens and interior of houses via conservatories and skylights.
Tower 2 would be over 63m and would be the 3rd largest development in Dublin. While high density housing is badly needed it must be designed and planned coherently as part of new wider developments. Shoe-horning these huge developments into areas such as this will be out of place.
The planned social housing for the site needs to be changed. The St Michael’s Estate development in Inchicore is one which can offer inspiration here in how we plan for large scale developments with a mix of private and social housing with cost rental and cost purchase units. Indeed, the integrated nature of that development is one which sets it up for success with private and social housing mixed. The planned segregation of the social housing into an isolated large storey block is one which resembles past planning failures; if this planned development goes ahead it would result in similar social problems and stigma. By using the failed methods of the past we are only setting ourselves up for future failures.
Impact on the local area
As previously noted, this area is a long-standing development of two storey houses and local infrastructure reflects this fact. The roads on both sides of the site are in an area with approximately 700 housing units, the proposed development would almost quadruple this number yet there is no expansion of road infrastructure to account for this fact. The inevitable result would be damaged poor-quality roads, lack of parking facilities and huge tailbacks of traffic in what is already a high traffic area given its proximity to the city centre. To offset the additional housing development more traffic spots would be needed which further depletes the green spaces in the existing area – they themselves would be more in demand given the influx of children this development would bring. There is also an issue of cycling facilities, the plans for the development make allowances for 110 visitor bike spots. This number is 250 short of the 2018 design standards. In a time when we are trying to encourage more use of cycling in our city the plans in this development fall far short of our aims.