File photo of Glebe House from March 2022. Image by Lois Kapila.

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In a planning application filed by a developer and housing charity last June, Glebe House – a protected 18th-century building in Crumlin village – had been redrawn as two apartments.

But the idea that the building would be turned into apartments was frustrating, says Trevor Clowry, secretary of Crumlin Community Clean Up.

He reached out to Michael Moran, director of Seabren Ltd whose company owns the building, to see what it could be used for, he says.

Moran and Clowry have come up with an alternative plan, they say, one which would, if the community agrees, see the building refurbished into a community centre.

To make up for that, an additional, set-back storey would be added to one of the proposed new apartment blocks on the site, said Moran.

Plans for Glebe House are part of a much wider, and contentious, scheme of roughly 150 homes, a mix of social and cost-rental homes.

Planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála in October 2022 for homes on the site has been challenged by local residents in the High Court.

Moran says he expects An Bord Pleanála will defend that planning permission grant in the courts.

But Seabren and Circle VHA have started the process for another planning application in parallel – this one what’s known as a “large-scale residential development”, given changes in planning laws.

In this one, Glebe House would be a community centre, he says. “As possibly a swifter route to an outcome.”

Rethinking Glebe House

Members of Crumlin Community Clean Up approached Moran to discuss what Glebe House could be used for, says Moran.

Clowry, secretary of Crumlin Community Clean Up, says he was annoyed that the building was going to be turned into apartments.

“We feel it could be a great location to house historical information on Crumlin and Walkinstown,” he says, especially as last week, a local history event in Crumlin had about 100 attendees. Finola Watchorn, a local historian, had the idea, he says.

“I’d like to hear what other people would say too,” Clowry says. “Maybe it could be a creative and cultural space.

Clowry approached Moran about the possibility of using the building for community use, he says.

“Slowly we’re just seeing them disappear,” he says. “I just think we should be keeping these old buildings in community use. There are groups in the area struggling to find places to meet.”

“I spoke to him, and he came back and said, essentially he was saying, he wants to give back to the community but it’s hard to engage with the community,” says Clowry. “If people want the building, he’s happy to restore it back to the way it was.”

Moran says he thought having the listed building open to the public would be a more fitting use of Glebe House. “I’ve obviously learned along the way is it’s very dear to members of the community.”

Moran says he would be happy to retrofit Glebe House and offer it to Crumlin Community Clean-Up on a peppercorn, long lease. “This would become their, I suppose, their head office.”

“Basically for no rent,” he says, “we’ll call it a euro as the annual rent.”

It would be more in keeping with the original house, Moran says, rather than sub-divided into apartments.

“We’re able to give Glebe House to the community, but effectively maintain the original quantum that we set out for the original site, which is 152 units,” he says.

Sophie Nicoullaud, an independent councillor, says she welcomes the idea of Glebe House being used as a community centre.

Adding a Floor

Moran says he wants to keep around the same number of apartments on the site, because it seems appropriate for the size of it. “It isn’t a very dense development.”

“Our scheme is wholly designed, and we’re tweaking it in response to the planning processes that we’ve gone down, and I think ultimately to the betterment of the whole scheme,” he says.

Since the first planning application, they have also added more parking, a creche, and a pocket park to plans, he says. “The scheme is getting improved along the way.”

The new floor would be a set-back storey, he says.

Circle Housing and Seabren’s January 2021 application was for 152 apartments, mostly one- and two-beds, with a handful of three-beds. It rose to six storeys at its highest point, say planning documents.

There was broad opposition for the scheme, with 97 submissions. Some said the apartment blocks would overshadow nearby homes, such as those on Somerville Drive.

Permission for that scheme was quashed, after the developers applied the wrong daylight standards to the planned homes. They hadn’t used the right target for daylight in the apartments’ kitchen-living rooms.

Circle and Seabren’s June 2022 application shows slightly fewer homes – 150 apartments – but local residents said they continued to have concerns about heights and light and have appealed that planning permission in the High Court too.

Says Moran, of the suggested set-back storey: “We’ve done daylight analysis on Somerville Drive, and the buildings on Somerville Drive are not going to be impacted whatsoever. It’ll also not create shadowing on the buildings on Somerville Drive.”

Moran says as soon as he gets permission to build, he would have 18 months of construction ready to go.

“As we say, because I have a hotel background,” he says, “we say, there could be heads on beds in two years if the judicial review was to be set aside.”

Claudia Dalby

Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at

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