MIC objects to new accommodation as students sleep in tents

The planned new development at Westbourne Student Residences.

AN APPROVED plan to build more student accommodation next to a Limerick college has been appealed by the college itself, in the face of claims that students are sleeping in tents.

Westbourne Student Limited were granted permission to add a fourth block of student accommodation on the site of the existing Westbourne Student Residences on Courtbrack Avenue on the outskirts of Limerick City, providing an additional 22 bed spaces for students of Mary Immaculate College (MIC).

Now, Michael Keane, Vice President of Mary Immaculate College, has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the development on the site.

In the letter of appeal, seen by the Limerick Post, the college raises issues around the density on the site, the potential for traffic congestion in the area caused by the new student block, and the lack of amenity space.

MIC own and operate the existing Courtbrack student accommodation to the west of the proposed development.

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In a detailed submission, representatives for MIC said that they “are deeply concerned that the proposed development would be inappropriate to student life and will have a negative impact on their property.”

According to the letter, “the site will provide no external recreation space” for the 91 students who would be living on site if development was allowed to go ahead.

Issues surrounding the zoning of the land that the new block would be built on are also raised by the college, saying that the site for the proposed new block is “not in fact zoned at all, and reliance is made on the zoning of the surrounding areas.”

The appeal also focuses on the distance between the proposed new block and the existing block of Courtbrack student accommodation.

The college says that there would be just 1.3meters of separation distance between their block and the new block.

“The suggestion of a 1.3m separation distance from a potential future development site is therefore completely inappropriate, in that not only will it compromise development in that site, but it will also negatively impact on the existing amenity of that site,” the letter stated.

The college’s appeal letter states that parking at the site is also a cause for concern, with parking flow to the existing Courtbrack accommodation having to be monitored by the college, such is demand amongst students for parking spaces.

Speaking to the Limerick Post, an informed source said that the developers are understood to be “disappointed and shocked” by the decision of MIC to appeal the planning permission.

It is understood that a significant investment, in the region of €100,000, has already been made to get the plans for the site to the current stage and this appeal will delay development by 12 months if eventually given the go ahead.

“This development would have enhanced their offering,” the source said, adding that students were sleeping in tents because they could not secure accommodation.

In a statement to the Limerick Post, a spokesman for Mary Immaculate College said they felt that the development on the site would be inappropriate.

“Highly experienced in the matter of operation of student facilities MIC is deeply concerned that the proposed development of an extension at Westbourne Student Residences on Courtbrack Avenue, in its current iteration, would be wholly inappropriate to student life and as a result have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála.”

“According to MIC, the proposed development will result in significant breaches of normal planning codes including provision of inadequate separation distance, inappropriate and unsafe access provision, interference with amenity of neighbouring properties, excessive density, site coverage and plot ratio and total disregard for the character of the surrounding area; thereby resulting in an entirely unsuitable residential environment for the students who are to occupy this property,” the statement said.

“MIC remains committed to ensuring a proper and safe residential environment for their students but are firmly of the opinion that this proposal falls very short of providing such an environment,” the statement concluded.