HINES strongly refute ‘inaccuracies’ re Holy Cross scheme

by Rose Barrett
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BY Rose Barrett

In reply to criticisms that Holy Cross is 100 per cent  a ‘Build to Rent’ (BTR) development, a spokesperson for Hines stated “That is because there is no other sustainable funding model available to facilitate the construction of apartment developments of scale in Ireland currently. 

“Banks or other funders simply won’t provide the money for large built-to-sell (BTS) developments because it takes too long to deliver a financial return on such a major financial outlay.”  

It also refuted the claims that some apartments at Clonliffe Road are below the basic requirements of 40 sq mts.

“All the new apartment blocks will fully meet and in many cases, exceed the required unit size limits. The BTR standards here in Ireland are very high by EU and UK comparison. 

“These standards were a major improvement on the Celtic Tiger era and were introduced nationally in 2008 and upgraded again in 2015. The Clonliffe apartments will therefore have a much higher space allocation than the apartments built during and prior to the Celtic Tiger period.”

He continued: “There is zero difference in terms of building standards, building quality or minimum apartment sizes between build to sell (BTS) and build to rent (BTR). 

“BTS codes allow for the same size units as BTRs – but in addition require that 50% or more of the units must be 10% larger.

Despite claims that only 6.3% at the Clonliffe proposal are the standard size, Hines stated that, in fact, 93.7% exceed this standard size while over 18% of the total, exceed the ‘10% plus’ (BTS) size requirement.

The company conceded there was a limited number of studio apartments (13) contained within the application that will be marginally less than the minimum floor areas set out in the required standards due to complications arising as a result of the fact they are located within a protected structure.

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“However, the design by McCullagh Mulvin Architects is of a very high quality, reflecting the significant quality of the existing spaces which these apartments will enjoy – such as tall existing floor to ceiling heights and generous sized existing sash windows.

“Such concessions are specifically accommodated within the planning process when dealing with refurbishment projects of old/protected structures, as is the case in Clonliffe.”

It noted a unit in Holy Cross will have its own living area, kitchen and bedroom and separate storage space. A studio is marginally smaller (typically c 5 sq mts) and the kitchen, living area and bedroom sit within a single open plan room.

“The Holy Cross studios are not bedsits, i.e., there is not a shared bathroom with other residents, and are not student accommodation which is typically c 16 sq mts with a kitchen shared between residents.”

Regarding the aspect of dual light, over 50% of the total apartment units have multiple windows on two separate facades thus benefitting the open plan living/dining/ kitchen spaces – giving enhanced views, daylight and natural ventilation.

“Daylight and sunlight have been given due consideration at Holy Cross – there is no apartment in this scheme which only has a single window.”

Regarding claims that the apartments had no balconies, Hines replied: “All units with the exception of 177 studio units in the A blocks will have a balcony.  These 177 units have full height sliding doors with external protective railing, to allow for full opening to enhance air flow, views and maximise on natural daylight.”

In response to the lack of mix of units within the development, Hines stated the proposal is designed to respond to current market demand.

“Over 70% of existing demand in Dublin is for one and two bed apartments. However, the existing housing stock in the city does not respond to these demographic shifts. This has led to single people or couples renting rooms in larger houses with others – a characteristic of the rental scene for decades.

“By supplying the market with purpose-designed one and two beds, larger homes will be freed up for more appropriate use.”

Hines added the Clonliffe one bed units could allow for future conversion and amalgamation into two or three bed bedroom units, should current market demands change in the future.

As for claims that the likes of Holy Cross development will see a “return to landlord absenteeism”, the US property developers replied: “We fully reject such claims. Hines will take a hands-on approach to the active management of the properties with a full management team located on site to ensure tenants issues are dealt with promptly and efficiently and the properties’ maintenance regime will be best-in-class.

“This is a key feature of the scheme and works very successfully elsewhere in the UK and Europe.”

The decision by An Bord Pleanála is expected to be published in November next.

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