Minister needs to end developers circumnavigating planning laws

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
06 August 2021

Responding to news that Uninest will convert 571 student beds to tourist accommodation, Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said the Government must support her bill to prevent developers circumnavigating planning guidelines on student accommodation.

Senator Moynihan said:

“This luxury student complex was once deemed vital for students by Government, at the detriment of local communities in inner city Dublin that are crying out for affordable housing. It’s genuinely shocking that developers are chancing their arm and changing planning applications to co-living or tourist accommodation in the depths of a housing crisis. Unfortunately, they do this because they know they can. They know this Government is committed to taking an investor-led approach to housing.

“I have a bill before the Seanad to tackle this ongoing problem and it needs to be prioritised by the Minister when the Oireachtas returns in September. We need stronger planning guidelines on student accommodation to stop developers attempting to turn purpose-built student accommodation into apartments for tourists. There are several luxury student accommodation builds across inner city Dublin and we cannot allow developers to convert them into tourist apartments at a whim.

“Developers need to know that they cannot be allowed to view our communities as investment opportunities. There is a massive shortage of decent quality, long-term one- and two-bedroom apartments in inner city Dublin and developers must understand that if they build student accommodation that they cannot apply at whim to the planning authorities for a change of use to either co-living or accommodation for tourists.

“We’re all waiting with eager anticipation for the Government’s Housing for All plan which has once again been pushed out to the Autumn. There’s a genuine opportunity for this Government to be ambitious in its plan – to give renters a break, to use public land for social and affordable housing, to ensure that every town and village in the country is set up to develop housing in sustainable, thriving communities.

“Right now, developers know that they can get away with change of use applications such as this, prioritising short term profits over long term planning within our inner cities. Housing is the greatest social issue of our generation. When Government cites homeless figures and the waitlist for social housing, they fail to remember that these are real people, real families, with real ambition to live a full life in stable, affordable homes. The housing problem can be solved, but one thing is for sure, our cities do not need more tourist accommodation, and certainly not by the backdoor.”

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