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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) today condemns a vote by Dublin City Councillors last night for applicants to submit evidence demonstrating that there is not an over-concentration of student accommodation within an area, including a map showing all such facilities, from 0.25km to 1km of a proposal in Dublin.

Speaking after the vote, USI Deputy President Síona Cahill,

‘In short, this will negatively impact future developments of student accommodation in Dublin. The National Student Accommodation Strategy by the Department of Education and Skills has projected that the number of bed spaces for students may increase by 15,000 until 2024. A large proportion of those projects are in the planning process or early stages and if further limitations and restrictions are implemented, those developments may never evolve.’

Cahill went on to say,

‘Councillors jumping in on this discriminatory blockade are helping to fuel the student accommodation crisis spreading through families, students and other groups with rents going through the roof. More student beds will alleviate the pressure from students scrambling for somewhere to sleep and even free up the private rental sector.

‘A few years ago redevelopment and increasing capacity of Trinity Hall in Rathgar was met with resistance of the local community protesting against over-concentration of students in that area. Today, the Hall that accommodates 1,000 students is well integrated into community and offers student housing in a convenient location. Diverse and well-balanced local communities have a great potential for regeneration, civic activities and engagement.’

The Union noted that with the integrated national approach to student accommodation reflected in regional policies, both Councils and An Bord Pleanála have been equipped with tools to ensure balanced development of the communities and take a strategic approach to spatial distribution and concentration of particular social groups, particularly students, who are particularly vulnerable group facing the housing crisis.

The National Student Accommodation Strategy published in July identifies the importance of providing dedicated and additional student accommodation to avoid putting additional pressures on the private rental sector, particularly in and around the many universities and third-level institutions in urban areas, and puts actions in place to end the shortage. The Union of Students in Ireland have indicated concern with pockets of residents looking to prevent student accommodation being constructed in local areas, and urge residents to be mindful of damaging stereotypes of students.

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