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Student flats by UCC approved

Plans to build apartments for nearly 200 students near University College Cork have been approved.

An Bord Pleanála have rejected the recommendation of their own inspector and upheld the decision by cork city council made last August to give planning permission for the development of Student flats for UCC students. The development is to be built on a vacant site of a former service station on Lancaster Quay, however the permission was granted on the condition that one of the storeys be removed limiting it to 5 in total. The purpose-built complex will provide apartments for 200 UCC students and could help to relieve some of the difficulties faced by students in finding accommodation. However, the development has raised numerous concerns on various issues by local residents.

Overall, 11 appeals were submitted against the council’s decision on the application last year by the Ziggurat, a UK based student accommodation developers. The company is a major player in Britain’s housing sector and also has facilities in Dublin. The majority of the appeals were submitted by local residents and guesthouse owners that the development would result in unacceptable anti-social behaviour, however these concerns were rejected on the grounds that the development has detailed operational management plans in all of its student accommodation centres.

The appeals also focused on concerns over traffic problems but the Ziggurat firm rejected these on the grounds that parking demands would not be needed given the location of the development, 100 metres from UCC. . Management of the River Lee Hotel, located across a narrow river channel from the site, had also raised concerns about being overlooked and loss of light and privacy. However the height and scale of the development did result in the recommendation of refusal by the inspector citing that it would be an overdevelopment of a limited site and not within the character of the area. But the appeals board decided not to accept her recommendation, stating that the plans are appropriate to the location and will not affect the area’s visual or residential amenity.

The board did however attach a condition on the removal of one of the storeys, specifically the fifth floor set out in the original planning application for 30 apartments of between 4 and 8 bedrooms. It is as yet uncertain how many beds will be lost as a result, Ziggurat did appeal the condition citing that reduced height should not be contemplated when student accommodation is in such short supply.

The decision comes as other proposals to expand the number of student apartments in part of Cork City’s events centre development on the old Beamish brewery site face further delays. The city council was due to decide on the proposal to increase the number of apartments in this development but it emerged that the council delayed this in order to seek clarification in relation to the company’s requests for further information on the plans. The proposal seeks to provide accommodation for 470 students increasing the number of apartments at the cost of retail and office spaces as outlined in the 2011 parent planning permission. The company had hoped to have work begin, with letting of the student accommodation in autumn 2018, but the delays may cast doubts over that possibility even if the plans are permitted.