Blackpitts mosque and apartment approval gives insight into real state strategy on housing

On Monday, An Bord Pleanála rejected an appeal against the decision made in January by Dublin City Council to give permission for the building of up to seven-storey block containing a mosque and 27 apartments at numbers 25 and 26 Blackpitts in the south inner city.

The proposed development is on the site of a former warehouse owned by Independent Clothing Holdings and will involve the demolition of the existing two storey structure. The company is owned by Azhar Bari who is from Pakistan, and who was advised on the project by the Clonskeagh Islamic Centre.

The proposal had been objected to by the management of the Presentation primary school and a local resident.

Part of the current building is presently being used as a mosque. It attracted some public attention earlier in the year when a video showed that large crowds were attending the mosque in contravention of Covid restrictions that were being enforced by An Garda Siochana at other locations in Dublin and elsewhere. VIDEO HERE

This flouting of the Covid regulations has obviously been disregarded despite the proposal being approved on the basis that the applicants are expected to comply with a whole range of stipulations from restricting noise levels that might interfere with the nearby school to parking and archaeological assessments.

The objection on behalf of the Presentation school was lodged with the City Council in June 2020. The grounds cited were the height of the proposed building – in contravention, they claimed, of the city development plan; that the upper stories would be overlooking the girl’s school yard; that a mosque could be built within the footprint and height of the existing building; that a previous proposal for another residential block had been rejected; child safety criteria, and; the likelihood that the proposal will lead to further development detrimental to a settled and historic local community.

The decision issued on Monday by Paul Hyde of Bord Pleanála does not directly address any of the original concerns enumerated by the school. Instead, it stipulates that the proposal must comply with a series of conditions on parking, noise and others outlined in the document. The decision finds that the proposal is in accordance with national and local planning guidelines, and that therefore will be “in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The fact that all but one of the apartments will be either one or two bed units is consistent with the overall trend of housing development in Dublin, and other urban areas. The apartments will also most likely all be rental accommodation which contributes to the concerns of communities that this is undermining social cohesion.

The fact that such proposals are almost invariably approved even after objections although sometimes with minor amendments, indicates that they are in line with the criteria which are part of the overall state strategy on housing. The social and other consequences that this will have for cities and towns is obviously nowhere near being a major consideration. Nor do those with responsibility for planning appear to have taken into account the impact that such developments have had in other locations.

It is still open to the original appellants to request a further review.

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