Ministerial guidance on student accommodation

Wed, Sep 29, 2021

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Last week I asked the Minister for Housing what plans he had to stop much needed student accommodation being turned into temporary tourist lets. Today the Department of Housing published guidance for local authorities putting the onus on applicants seeking change of use to demonstrate that there is no longer a need for student accommodation in the area in question.

Ministerial guidance on student accommodation

I had asked:

To ask the Minister for Housing what plans he has, given the current shortage of student accommodation, to curtail the conversion of student accommodation to temporary short term tourist accommodation as supported by a previous department circular (Department of Housing Circular PL 8/2016 APH 2/2016)

The Minister’s response was as follows:

My Department issued a Circular Letter to all Local Authorities on Friday 24th September 2021 relating to temporary change of use of student accommodation. In accordance with the circular, in considering planning applications for the change of use of existing student accommodation for a temporary period, planning authorities and An Bord PleanĂ¡la must be satisfied that there are compelling non-Covid related grounds to grant permission for any such proposed change of use, while demand for student accommodation remains high. The removal of student accommodation from availability for student use runs contrary to the National Student Accommodation Strategy.

Accordingly, the onus must be on any applicant for change of use from existing purpose-built student accommodation to demonstrate that there is no longer a need for such use in the area in question. Otherwise, student accommodation should be retained, where appropriate.

“Circular 05/2021 - Temporary Change of Use of Student Accommodation” can be found here.

It is difficult to understand why local authorities were allowing the change of use from Student Accommodation to Tourist Accomodation in the first instance. Nonetheless this clarification from the minister is welcome.