Deputy Neale Richmond addressed the House of the Oireachtas to discuss UCD’s decision not to move ahead with plans to build more than 1,250 student apartments on campus. This follows an investigation published in the College Tribune and The Irish Times earlier this week.
The Fine Gael TD called on the government to intervene and help fund the construction of 1,254 postponed on-campus student residences in UCD.
Richmond said that “there is absolutely no reason why” the government could not provide financial assistance to UCD in constructing new student accommodation on the provision that the government can “have direct say” on rents charged on campus and that UCD look to build more accommodation than planned.
Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Niall Collins TD, responded by saying that the government had met with UCD to discuss the issue “and options are being considered to activate this project.” The government committed to assisting with the costs of building student accommodation “in return for affordable rents for targeted students.”
Deputy Richmond, TD, said that UCD’s decision not to construct 1,254 student residences was “extremely disappointing” though said the decision was not “massively surprising” given the university’s decision was due to rising construction costs.
Richmond said that UCD needing to charge rents high enough to cover high construction costs was “regrettable.” He called for rents on campus to be “charged in a fair and equitable manner, that are reflective that [sic] the people living in this accommodation are full-time students. These are younger people who may have a part-time job, but they do not have the means to be paying excessive market-based rates.”
The Original Construction Plan
University College Dublin has shelved plans to build more than 1,200 student apartments on its campus, as the development was no longer “viable” due to inflation in construction costs, according to correspondence with Minister Simon Harris.
UCD originally submitted a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in 2018 to construct 3,006 student beds, across seven residential blocks. The plans were to double the amount of student accommodation on its campus over three phases of building.
The first phase of construction was completed last year at a cost of €145 million and provided 924 new student residences, along with a student facilities building.
The second phase, which has now been paused due to escalating construction costs, was due to add a further 1,254 beds, with 828 on-campus beds envisioned in the third phase of construction.
Speaking to The College Tribune regarding the shelving of these plans, Molly Greenough, UCDSU President said “As evidenced by the demand, the waiting lists, and the costs, UCD is sorely lacking in on-campus accommodation and this cancellation just compounds an already sorry state of affairs.
“That being said, perhaps this delay will give the University time to reflect on their approach and strategy on delivering on-campus accommodation to date and shift their focus from luxury-style accommodation to genuinely affordable accommodation.”
Greenough echoed calls for the government to be involved in the provision of student residences saying the “has to step up to the plate”.
Hugh Dooley – Co-Lead of Investigations
Additional Reporting: Emma Hanrahan – Co-Lead of Investigations
Featured image is credited to Stephen Kisbey-Greene.