Trinity College Promises Student Accommodation Without Bells and Whistles

Trinity College Dublin has unveiled plans to knock student accommodation built in the 1970s and replace it with a modern building.

If built, its replacement on the site at Trinity Hall in Darty in Rathmines would be home for 358 students in 50 apartments, plans show.

Laura Beston, president of the students’ union in Trinity, has welcomed the plans.

The new-build accommodation will be the best value within the college and one of the most affordable in Ireland, she says.

“It’s a really good project,” she says. “It is providing more accommodation than was there and the new builds will be the cheapest accommodation in Trinity.”

Student accommodation can be pricey and some colleges have been pilloried in recent times for hiking rents.

While the college is borrowing to finance the redevelopment project, that won’t push up prices for this accommodation, says the Trinity spokesperson.

They have deliberately designed the accommodation to keep prices low, she says, by tweaks like providing shared bathrooms instead of ensuites.

“The way the housing crisis is, people don’t mind sharing a bathroom,” says Beston. “The luxury complexes that are going up in Dublin, they don’t need to be that extravagant and charge that much money.”

Pricing It Out

“Trinity Board mandated that we design and build the accommodation to ensure lower rents,” says the Trinity spokesperson.

“This is being achieved by moving away from the en-suite model to apartment-style with shared bathrooms,” she said.

Rents, therefore, should be 15 percent to 20 percent lower than the existing en-suite rooms at Trinity Hall, she says.

Beston says that Trinity’s student accommodation is cheaper than most private student accommodation, too. That seems to bear out.

It currently costs €5,914 for eight months in a shared room in Trinity Halls. That’s around €169 a week over 35 weeks. Students book Trinity Hall for a block of eight months and then can add weeks if needed.

By comparison, the cheapest shared room offered by Uninest Student Residences on its websiteis €202 a week. It has to be booked for 40 weeks, said a staff member via an online chat on its website. That brings the total to €8,080.

Uninest Student Residences is a private company with student accommodation across the city, including Broadstone Hall in Phibsborough.

For a student in their own room, the pattern is similar. At Point Campus, the cheapest option is €235 per week for 40 weeks, which comes to a total of €9,400.

By comparison, a single room in Trinity Hall is €7,247 for 35 weeks, which is €207 per week.

More On The Plans

The proposed new red-brick building, with two connected blocks, would be eight storeys at its highest point, show plans. It’s due to be completed by 2023.

A late 20th-century sports hall would be demolished and replaced by a new sports facility, the plans also show.

There would be four apartments for staff and the campus grounds would be revamped with more trees and 188 bicycle parking spots.

Already, 950 students live in Trinity Hall in three large purpose-built student accommodation blocks.

But “there are approximately 70 units in Cunningham House that are not fit for purpose,” says the spokesperson for Trinity College. “The building itself is also nearing end of life.”

According to the architectural heritage impact assessment, “the primary historical features retained on the application site are the three mid-to-late Victorian villas.”

“Women were first admitted to Trinity in 1904 but were not allowed to take up residence in the historic campus,” the document says.

“Hence the purchase of a large villa in a nice part of the city with good transport links back to the centre,” it says.

Purser House – which used to be called Palmerston House – was built in the 1860s. Greenane House and Oldham House, previously called Glen-na-Smoil, were built in the 1870s. They are protected structures to be kept, plans show.

The college purchased Glen-na-Smoil in 1907 to use as the first female college residence. Soon after that, they purchased the other villas on the Dartry site.

Due to its scale, the planning application is a strategic housing development and so its down to An Bord Pleanála, rather than Dublin City Council, to decide whether it gets the go-ahead.

The closing date for public feedback on the application is 7 May 2020.

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Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

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