Student Housing on Parnell Street

It looks as if there’s a “fatal flaw” with the plan for several blocks of student housing on Parnell Street, said Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam.

The plan for 257 bed spaces – in five blocks that range in height from four to eight storeys – is based on the idea that only the front building on the site, the Kennedy’s Bakery, is protected. But, as he reads it, other structures could be protected too.

“On that basis the application should be rejected outright,” said McAdam, at a meeting of Dublin City Council’s Central Area Committee on Tuesday morning

It’s not up to councillors, though, or council planners. As a large scheme, it skips straight to An Bord Pleanála to rule on whether to grant permission, and Dublin City Council gets to weigh in with a submission.

Other councillors raised other concerns about the proposed development.

Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe made suggestions to improve the plans – such as lopping off some floors, and storing the bins in different places, if it were to go ahead.

Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan pointed to concerns that nearby residents at Temple Lane North have about overshadowing and access for fire-brigade vehicles, among other things. “These are the things that the alarm bells ring for,” she says.

“What can I say about this?” independent Councillor Mannix Flynn asked, before saying it would amount to the vandalism of a heritage site, and that what needed to be built in the city was homes for people to live in.

“I believe this should be rejected,” Flynn said.

The “Bolt Hostel”

In autumn 2015, housing activists took over a council-owned building at 38 and 39 Bolton Street, called it the “Bolt Hostel”, and allowed rough sleepers to stay there.

But the council took the housing activists to court for trespassing, to get them removed.

At the time, the council said they’d turn the buildings into homes for people who were homeless. In an affidavit, it referred to a possible collaboration with approved housing body Novas Initiatives, and said the housing activists were getting in the way of progress.

“The irony of this situation is that there is a planning application before the planning department to renovate [38 and 39 Bolton Street]. The residents have upset the arrangements of the council to deal with the housing problem,” a council spokesperson said four years ago.

The buildings are still empty today.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Central Area Committee, councillors discussed plans to sell the building for a token amount to Arlington Novas Ireland.

The approved housing body wants to make them into an “accommodation facility” with eight bedrooms, a council report says.

Novas had applied for permission in the past to develop the site, but didn’t get back to the council with a conservation statement when asked, said Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe.

He’d asked in the past what the plans were for the site. “I kind of got fobbed off,” he said. “It’s just a black hole.”

He said there needed to be legal timelines included as part of any sale, to make sure that Novas applied for planning by, say, September, and then had it built substantially by January 2021.

“It’s shameful that a building of ours sits empty for four years. I really think we need to think long and hard about the disposal,” he said.

Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general-assignment reporter. Want to share a comment or a tip with her? Send an email to her at

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