By Rose Barrett
Residents in Phibsborough have united to fight An Bord Pleanála’s (APB) decision to grant permission for over 200 apartments on the site of a former bakery at Cross Guns, opposite the Royal Canal.
For Val Cassidy, spokesperson for the Cross Guns Campaign Group, the development is simply another build-to-rent investment fund, an example of high storey buildings purporting to cater for the lack of housing in Dublin.
“I’m here 22 years and look at the silos currently standing on the site. The site changed hands many times over the years and then was sold for circa €800, 000. Strategic Housing Development (SHD) since it was introduced is causing havoc in many communities.
“Previously, the developers would have engaged with the local community and council planners. But via the SHD, the developers Bindford have been granted permission by ABP in what we see as a totally undemocratic, speedy planning process.”
Senator Marie Sherlock (Lab) was equally vociferous in her criticism of the planning permission granted: “That this planning proposal started off as a conventional apartment project in 2018 and by 2020, the project design was amended to meet ‘build to rent’ planning standards, tells its own story.
“The move from an initial 155 apartments to the 205 currently proposed reflects a major intensification of the site and a greed to sweat the site for as much as is permissible within the planning system.”
Mr Cassidy emphasised the community is not opposed to development in the area.
“It’s badly needed and that site is an eyesore. A plan in 2014 was welcomed by the community with roughly half the occupancy of the current plan and commercial development therein. We hoped that would bring something central for the community, that is cafés, shops, services.”
But the granting of planning permission for the current Bindford development is not the end for the Cross Gun Campaign Group.
“Less than two weeks ago, we set up a GoFundMe* page to fund a judicial review. We have to raise €60,000 to fight the case in the High Court and we had to have €17,000 by July 14. We’ve already surpassed that but need to keep pushing for the remaining amount.”
Mr Cassidy stated the silos on the site are 29.45m high. The apartments sought in 2014 were 6-7 storeys high, contravening the relevant local area plan. But the current plan goes up to 12 storeys, a further 10m higher than the silos.
Senator Sherlock added: “By and large, it is only large institutional investors who own the schemes and their financial firepower means they can keep rents artificially inflated which means that unsustainable unaffordable rents will have a knock-on impact for the rest of the area.”
The Labour senator stated she wanted to see conventional housing developed in the area “where people can put down roots either via affordable long term secure renting or purchase.”
In contrast, she concluded, “The area is experiencing a major concentration of unsustainable, unaffordable accommodation with over 4,800 large scale build to rent, co-living or student accommodation proposals either going through the planning system or granted permission within 2.6km of Cross Guns bridge – compared with just over 2,500 large scale conventional apartments and housing developments.”
*See gofundme.com/f/no-to-royal-canal-towers-of-greed to donate
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