Green Party TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan has said that the decision to grant a student accommodation complex in her constituency permission to rent to tourists is “somewhat concerning”, and could set a precedent for more permanent changes to the use of such complexes.
Hourigan’s parliamentary assistant Paschal Nee told The University Times in an email that “temporary changes of use such as these are somewhat concerning in that they may set a precedent for future, more permanent, applications for change of use”.
“Indeed the planning inspector’s report cites the previous temporary changes to tourist accommodation as a precedent when granting this application.”
“The planning inspector’s report is also somewhat confusing in that it simultaneously says ‘development will remain vacant for the academic year’ while acknowledging that ‘the majority of the existing bed spaces would remain occupied by students'”, the email said.
“Our preference here would have been that any planning grant contained a condition that the majority of the development remained occupied by students.”
The three other TDs for the constituency – Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe and Gary Gannon of the Social Democrats – did not respond to a request for comment from The University Times by the time of publication.
Last week, the Business Post reported that the 571 private student flats in Dublin 7 are to be advertised as tourist accommodation for the upcoming academic year.
Uninest, the accommodation provider, said that it did not anticipate its international student market recovering in time for the coming academic year.
The accommodation provider has been granted approval from Dublin City Council to rent the flats in Grangegorman to tourists until May 31st 2022. The application to do this was submitted in June of this year.
The principal permitted use of the site as student accommodation will remain during this period, according to the Business Post.
Declan Brassil & Company, acting on behalf of Uninest, said that the application was being made on the grounds of “the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international and domestic demand for student accommodation, the consequential under-utilisation of the application resource, and the opportunity presented to make attractive and affordable accommodation available in the inner-city area”.
Uninest was previously permitted to host tourists in the complex between October 2020 and May 2021.
Uninest said that typically, the international student market accounts for 50 per cent of the uptake of its facilities, and it does not anticipate a major recovery of the market during the coming academic year. It also said it did not foresee full recovery of the domestic student market.
“While domestic students may benefit from a tentative increase in on-campus learning, it is anticipated that this would primarily occur in the latter half of the academic year based on vaccination roll-out to the younger student population base”, the company said.
The application predicted students in Ireland would only be fully vaccinated by the end of the first quarter of 2022.