Below is an observation I am submitting on the proposals for the Bailey Gibson site, from property developer Hines. As the site is so large, it is going directly to An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the Council. You can see the full plans here.

Note: Since initially publishing this post, I have updated the document with some suggestions from residents and people who got in touch via social media, in particular on offering some units for sale and for pointing me to improved bike parking national standards (point 6 below).

I am writing in relation to the proposed strategic housing development at the Bailey Gibson site in Dublin 8 (case number 307221). I am a local councillor representing the area.

I welcome development on the site. Given its central location, current underuse, strong surrounding community, and transport links, it is an ideal place for medium to high density residential development.

There are some specific points which I believe should be changed in the application, namely:

1. The height of the development is grossly out of proportion. I have no objection in principle to increasing height and density across the city and have supported such projects.

However, the agreed Dublin City Council SDRA plan for the area envisaged buildings ranging from 3 – 8 storeys. This proposal is nearly twice that height. Given that the area is almost exclusively two-storey, the SDRA’s plan seems a more appropriate height for the area.

BG2, which is the tallest building this proposal, would be c. 52m high – making it the 8th highest building in Dublin and 11th in the Republic. Plonked in an area which is mostly two-storey terraced accommodation is simply too extreme a proposal.

2. The proposal contains no public green space provision. This runs contrary not only to the Dublin City Council Development Plan (which suggest a minimum 10% open public space), but also basic planning advice. This part of the city has a well-documented deficit of green space. Adding in 400+ new units without adding any new public green space would only worsen that problem.

There are other sites in the area where more green space provision may be proposed, however that is not guaranteed given that (a) they are in separate, as-yet-unsubmitted planning applications and (b) the developer may have to pull out of those developments in future. For those reasons, this proposal’s green space provision should be looked at on its own merits – not those of a hypothetical future application.

3. Access to the site presents substantial difficulty. The relatively low provision of car parking spaces is a welcome disincentive to extra car traffic, but even one-way access via Rehoboth Place would place extreme and undue pressure on the street. The existing street is a narrow, residential road, operating as a de facto cul-de-sac. Even with limited car traffic, this would turn it into a major access route to a development of 400+ units, with the added potential for future development on top of that.

4. The distribution of social housing (Part V) suggests that all social housing would be massed in a single block of the development. This would unnecessarily segregate and potentially stigmatise social housing, which is contrary to the purpose of Part V housing. The local authority should be given final say over the distribution and spread of the units, so that they can balance social and financial requirements.

In addition, to ensure mix of tenure, it is regrettable that the entire development is entirely build to rent. Any specifications the board can make to require some units be offered for sale would be helpful.

5. This proposal would necessarily involve a major construction site close to a large number of homes, running for a long period. Strict, enforceable conditions should be placed on the construction work to ensure that (a) a forum is available for any issues to be promptly resolved, (b) there is a transparent system of local accountability, (c) that construction work is done within the regular hours, and (d) that measures are put in place to reduce dirt and dust from the works and the heavy vehicles involved (such as spraying of tires leaving the site etc).

6. The bicycle parking proposed for the site should be increased. The application states that there will be 1.3 long-stay bicycle parking spaces for every unit, which exceeds the city development plan. However, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s 2018 Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments (p24) advise a “a general minimum standard of 1 cycle storage space per bedroom”. In addition, they state that “visitor cycle parking shall also be provided at a standard of 1 space per 2 residential units.”

Instead of 543 bicycle parking spaces, the national standards would require 576 spaces (the number of beds). Instead of 84 visitor bike parking spaces, the national standards would require 208 (half the number of units).

Any planning permission for this development should also specify that the outdoor/visitor bike parking be the preferred “Sheffield stand”, preferably with some form of covering.

In summary, I welcome development on the site. The current proposal however needs to reduce height at its maximum points, provide green space, improve access issues, add to bike parking, and spread social housing units throughout in some form.