An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission to contentious plans for a five-storey 201-bed space shared accommodation living scheme for Harold's Cross in Dublin.

The appeals board refused planning permission to AAI Kenilworth Ltd after widespread local opposition to the Kenilworth Hall plan.

The board stated that sufficient justification has not been provided for the scheme, given the lack of any major employer for the area, its limited public transport provisions and its location away from the city centre.

It also found that the proposed development, due to its mass and scale, would constitute an obtrusive feature in views along Harold's Cross Road and would fail to integrate with the surrounding streetscape.

The inspector in the case recommended refusal after finding that the proposal fails to provide an acceptable living environment for future residents of the development.

Senior Planning Inspector with the board, Conor McGrath, stated that a significant number of individual units shared a single common living/kitchen area on each floor along with a noticeable shortfall in sufficient communal facilities.

The appeals board made its ruling after Dublin City Council recommended that planning should be refused on the basis of the appropriateness of the location of the site for shared living development.

The Council stated that Harold's Cross village does not offer the range of facilities required for such a development. 

The council stated that a more conventional apartment scheme is the appropriate use on the site. 

In all 37 objections were lodged against the proposal by locals including one from the Harold’s Cross Community Village Centre.

A number of objectors raised Covid-19 concerns stating that such high-density shared living development is inappropriate in the context of Covid-19.

In his response to the Covid-19 concerns, Mr McGrath stated that An Bord Pleanála is not a public health authority, while there is currently no policy restriction on the development or operation of such residential schemes. 

He stated: "I am not satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for the Board to consider a refusal of permission for shared living development on the basis of public health risk."

The objectors also argued that the proposal constitutes over-development of the site with overbearing impacts on adjoining properties and will give rise to overlooking of adjoining residential properties.

Consultants for the promoters of the venture, AAI Kenilworth told the appeals board that the 204 residents of the scheme would create an annual spend of €2m for the area. 

The project is backed by a Singapore-based group of investors.