Thank you to everyone who submitted questions to our team ahead of our webinar last week on Thursday 25th March. If you have any further questions please get in contact with a member of our team through the Contact page on our website.

1. How can the public ask informed questions without advance sight of Hines Phase 3 proposals?

The webinar on 25th March was to present our proposals for Phase 3. We arranged for an independent moderator to relay some of the c.170 questions about both Phase 3 and the earlier Phases 1 and 2. We welcome further queries, and these can be discussed directly with our Community Liaison Officer, Andrew Kinsella. Our contact details are provided on all emails, newsletters, flyers and our website. The webinar was held c. 5-6 weeks in advance of when we anticipate lodging our planning application.

It’s noted developers are not required to engage in public consultation in advance of applying for planning permission, however the public have a formal opportunity to submit observations to An Bord Pleanála once the application has been lodged. Dedicated project websites are prepared, and all plans and reports are available to view on these websites and hardcopies can be accessed at the offices of ABP and DCC. However, we felt it important to give the community early visibility and the opportunity to give us comments and feedback directly.   

2. The Phase 1/Bailey Gibson ‘open day’ was a glossy PR day with no forum for public consultation (No Q&A, no public meeting, no feedback etc). Phase 2/Player Wills had no public consultation at all. How can we have any faith in this public consultation process led by Hines?

Open Days for local residents and the general public were held in 2019 and 2020 and were attended by over 700 hundred people. On both occasions an overall masterplan for the site was presented and members of the Hines team and the design team were on hand to answer any questions and attendees. After both Open Days the boards presented were posted online to our old website (www.hinesopenday-d8.com), and continue to be available to view, now at our new website address of www.bgpwproject.com. It is our understanding that the boards were also posted on the Players Please website and social media pages.

Queries, comments and feedback have always been welcomed and we continue to be available to meet with groups or individuals. By way of example in the past two or so months we’ve held 11 extended, one-on-one phone calls; 3 face to face meetings (one online and two in person); 3 meetings with local sporting groups and engaged with local community requests or comments via c.30+ emails.

In terms of how we are listening, we note that following the first Open Day our proposals were significantly revised to retain and restore the Factory building. We have now progressed a planning application that includes CGIs and full details of this. We would be happy to talk anyone through the details. The planning website can be found here.

Equally, we continue to adopt feedback where feasible, for example we recently amended our landscape design following a request by a local resident.

We continue to engage with all correspondence and are available to meet with any individual or group.

3. In what way exactly are Hines now going to genuinely engage with local residents and stakeholders such ie Players Please, Dublin 8 Residents Association, Tenters Residents Association and directly engage with those affected by the massive increase in the scale of the project?

We continue to be available to meet with community groups & individuals and have made offers to do so. That offer remains open and our contact details are included on our website here

4. The Dept of Housing and The National Transport Authority have both objected to Hines’s plans. How has this altered Hines’s approach to Phase 3?

This recent media report was incorrect. The Department of Housing has since verified that they did not make a submission and the Sunday Times has since corrected this story.

As part of the planning process, the National Transport Authority made an observation on the recently submitted Phase 2 planning application. The NTA’s observation will be considered by An Bord Pleanála during the decision making process and in the event that a Grant of Permission is issued, Hines will be required to comply with all conditions attached to the Permission.

5. Why are Hines frustrating attempts to add the Player Wills building to the Record of Protected Structures, including sending urgent legal letters to DCC and all local councillors challenging the validity of their decisions?

Hines do not have an objection in principle to the building being added to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) at some point, and we are very proud of the role we will play in bringing the building back to life. We were very concerned about a report, that we had not previously been made aware of, being circulated to Councillors that had several material errors in it. We asked that before any RPS process commenced the report would be corrected. We have facilitated access to the building for certain Councillors and to Council officials who had never visited the building prior to preparing that report.  

6. Why are Hines seeking to build multiple 16-19 storey towers despite the original masterplan which included buildings up to 8 storeys that was largely welcomed by locals? 

The Development Framework Plan included buildings of 15 storeys. The Plan was developed prior to the changes in (i) height and density adopted in the National Planning Framework and (ii) the 2018 Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines to provide for more sustainable urban living. As the CEO of the Council pointed out in his report to An Bord Pleanála, the updated heights are only 13m higher, which in the context of height being promoted in the new national guidelines, is not a material change.

The Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 and the 2017 Dublin City SDRA 12 Framework Plan include mid-rise buildings in a number of locations across the city. The purpose of mid-rise buildings in certain locations is to provide new homes and facilitate well designed density close to the city centre where there are opportunities to regenerate and breathe new life into disused, brown field industrial sites.

Cities of a similar population size in Northern Europe have developed or are in the process of developing residential buildings of 20-30 stories in development sites of similar scale to Baily Gibson  / Player Wills,  beside more traditional 19th and 20th century lower rise neighbourhoods. A good example of this would be the Carlsberg Byen project in Copenhagen, (c.1.3 million people), but there are a number of others in Hamburg, Germany (1.7 million people), Eindhoven, Holland (360k people) and Gottenberg, Sweden (600k people).

This trend in European cities is driven by the need to tackle climate change and making cities more sustainable, by increasing density. National policy in Ireland requires that any site in excess of 2 hectares, in our major cities, is designed in a manner that optimises density. However, the use of height in any design proposal is subject to being able to meet a set of “development management” qualitative tests as detailed in the 2018 Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines. The proposals for Bailey Gibson and Players Wills have been designed strictly in line with these qualitative tests.

We prepared an explanatory board which was displayed during the Open Days in 2019 and in 2020 (which can be downloaded here), and explained the rationale in more detail on how urban building block design has evolved to include higher elements in order to improve and meet current daylight and sunlight requirements into each apartment  for all residents. 

7. Did Hines consider lower rise/mid to high density buildings (8-12 storeys)? If not, why not?

Yes we did. The Development Framework included a number of taller buildings located around the edge of the site. The design team decreased the heights around the edge of the site from the suggested heights in the Development Framework Plan to better relate to and avoid overshadowing and overlooking of the surrounding streets and houses. This loss of floor area has been relocated to the centre of the site through increasing the building heights to minimise impacts on neighbouring homes. By moving the taller buildings from the edge of the development into the centre, away from the adjoining neighbourhoods, our design teams have maximised and improved the amount of daylight and sunlight that will be able to get into the apartments, the courtyards, the public green spaces, as well as the neighbouring surrounds. The greater no. of buildings at 3-6 stories on the perimeter ensures a more sympathetic and integrated connection with existing houses in the area. Across the site the average building height is 6.5 storeys. The current density in the surrounding area is 41 homes per hectare, with Hines development this number increases marginally to 52 homes per hectare. When combined with the Dublin City Council development (the Donore Project), the density increases to 57 homes per hectare.

8. There was no prior mention of co-living in any public plans. Why did Hines apply for 240 co-living units in phase 2 plans just ahead of the co-living ban and despite Covid 19 concerns about living and working in very small, shared spaces?

Back in 2019, during our first set of Open Days, plans for the Player Wills Factory building included the retention of just the 3 front bays of the Player Wills Factory building. However, responding to public feedback during the first set of Open Days it was decided to retain and restore the Player Wills Factory building and repurpose it in a manner which preserved its industrial fabric and heritage. After considering many different uses, shared accommodation was settled on as the most suitable option which both minimised interventions through the facade (preserving its industrial heritage) and released the full extent of the ground floor to be open and fully accessible and permeable for the local community.  

If traditional apartments were to be developed overhead, the proposed open plan ground floor with public access, would have been difficult to achieve as too many stairwells would have broken into this space. Also, and very importantly, the proposed public courtyard would have had to have been kept private to satisfy private open space requirements for traditional apartments.  We have compensated for that lack of private open space with very extensive residents’ communal areas on the first floor to the front of the building.

In line with Development Update Newsletter circulated in October 2020, the Phase 2 planning application timeline had targeted November 2020. As is often the case, this slipped to December 2020 as a result of general design revisions and delays. It was unknown at the time of preparing the application that Ministerial Guidelines would be issued to limit the development of co-living. As Shared Accommodation had been fully designed, and had been submitted during the pre-application phase with both DCC and ABP, we elected to retain it within our full application. It’s noted that the new Ministerial guidelines on co-living were formally introduced in December 2020.

A report detailing the demand for Shared Accommodation was included within our application and is available here. It is important to point out that shared accommodation represents just 7% of the floor area in the scheme, and shared accommodation or co-living is not being proposed in any of the new buildings.

An in-depth overview to manage Public Health risks in relation to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID19), regarding the planning and designing of the scheme was carried out by SOS International, a global leader in this field. The assessment concluded that the risk was LOW and commended the building services design approach, such as the 100% fresh air ventilation system. This report is available within our planning application. The document is available here.

9. With 80% of the apartments being one beds at unaffordable prices (relative to average income) and exclusively build-to-rent, this tenure mix and cost prohibits thousands of people from being able to put roots down and encourages a transient community. How do Hines propose to create the “thriving, sustainable community” they have promised in their brochures and in the press?

In determining the most appropriate and sustainable mix for the scheme, Dublin’s housing needs must first be considered. 

Sustainable Community

In 2017 a modelling exercise was carried out by the Irish government and the ESRI in order to provide a foundation for strategic policy-making and the direction of population growth in Ireland up to 2040. In 2019, this exercise was taken further, and population estimates were applied to a housing needs model to establish a county level projection on future housing requirements. These studies show that the population in Dublin is projected to increase by c. 8 % over the next 10 years.

An assessment of housing indicates that “there will be a minimum cumulative housing requirement for 99,062 units to be completed in Dublin from 2021-2030 to meet population growth and changing household preference (11,006 units a year, on average). This figure includes the shortfall in housing provided to the market in the 4 years between 2017 and 2020 in Dublin of 15,206 units. This would be considered latent demand that has not been satisfied by the rate of unit completions in the county”.

Assessments also point to “the pattern of falling household size requirements persisting to 2030 and the majority of this demand will be for 1-and 2-person households which will account for 65,062 or 72.5% of preferences. Demand for larger homes will decrease and in the case of 5+ bed units the level of demand will actually be negative indicating an oversupply of that unit type for the household composition of Dublin”.

In terms of a sustainable local community for Dublin 8, census data for the district shows over 50% of housing stock is family homes or bungalows, many of which were built prior to 1919 and often occupied by numerous singles or couples sharing as there is not enough apartments in the area.

The proposed mix* is seeking to address this by building smaller, and more efficient homes that cater for a broad range of demographics including single occupants, couples, sharers, graduates, single parents, young families and older people looking to scale down. 

The availability of new apartments is also anticipated to free up some of the family homes in the area currently being used by many people sharing. One of the major challenges faced by Dublin is family homes close to the city centre being used by people sharing in the absence of there being enough apartment stock.  The new homes will allow more people to live in the neighbourhood and provide the size of community needed to sustain the local businesses, underpinning the 15-minute City concept.

With regard to future generations, the scheme’s density on a vacant brownfield site also addresses urgent calls to reduce Dublin’s urban sprawl and build more sustainably in line with both National and City objectives.  

However, in considering these new buildings which will have a planned life of 100 years of more, flexibility and adaptability is also important. Unit type adjacencies have therefore been carefully considered to allow for future adaptability if required decades from now, for example two studio apartments could be converted into a 2-bed apartment.

 *68% of the apartments are studios and one beds, excluding the shared accommodation units. With shared accommodation this percentage goes up to 73%.

Affordability

The completed masterplan, which includes both the Hines and Dublin City Council sites, incorporates c.2,300 new homes of which 40% will be social/affordable/cost rental. The balance of 60% are build-to-rent. It is important to note that there are no subsidies of any nature on the private market element of this project being developed by Hines.

Build to Rent

Build to rent homes are not for ‘transient’ communities. Many people live happily in rented homes for many years. Build to Rent developments place a large emphasis on tenant amenity offerings and social spaces. The model offers attractive facilities tailored to residents at all stages of life, many of which are included in the monthly rent which may assist in savings e.g. broadband, gym memberships. A heavy emphasis is also placed on managing the scheme and fostering community to encourage tenants to stay for as long as possible or move within the building or development.

10. What is Hines’ plan for managing the mix of properties and tenure length over the next 10 to 20 years to ensure the thriving, sustainable, real community that they have pledged to create?

A very unique aspect to our properties is that we will have a full management team working on-site 7 days a week located adjacent to the property’s main welcome zone. We feel it is important for residents to have direct access to our teams to communicate their experience, book amenities, report any issues or concerns, give feedback or just come by for a chat. We also believe it is necessary for our teams to have a keen ear to the ground, mingle with the residents and local community daily and build that much needed trust particularly from the outset. Our teams are hospitality trained with a core focus on quality of standards and service. It was also important for us to hire individuals from diverse backgrounds allowing for more ideas and processes and a broader range of skills, experiences and perspectives. Our team are made of individuals specialised in areas such as sales, leasing, marketing, operations, maintenance and on occasion include guest representatives during our calendar of events. Members of the team will also have the opportunity to live on site, which gives us more insight into our property’s living experience.

Our teams will host a full calendar of events throughout the year that will foster resident interactions and give the opportunity to meet and know our teams. These events will take place within the community utilising the local parklands, open spaces and on-site amenities. We have also invested in leading technologies through our resident application and website to communicate online and at ease with the use of community news feeds/boards, forums, polls and much more. We will engage residents with continued community feedback through surveys, questionnaires and live events across our platforms.

We will look to partner with local retailers and business owners in creating great benefit for the community and encourage a ‘buy local’ initiative which will strengthen the relationships within our communities. We understand that by spending locally we are growing the local economy and helping in supporting jobs and small business growth.

In terms of sustainability we too are working hard to ensure we look after the environment and wider society. We are actively involved in lining up our properties to achieve accreditations across multiple green and sustainability bodies in becoming part of the most sustainable developments in Ireland and Europe. 

11. Who is the client and who wrote the brief for pitches and facilities as designed?. What informs their judgement on the design. What services are built under the pitches serving Hines sites? 

The Client is Dublin City Council and as the client they have full control over the briefs for the municipal playing pitch and facilities. Hines will be delivering the pitch and handing over for DCC to ‘take in charge’. There are no services under the pitch serving Hines sites, there is an attenuation tank north of the pitch that services both DCC and Hines sites and the costs of that attenuation tank are split proportionally.

12. What is the rationale for putting up a 22 storey building in an area which is predominantly two storey?

The 22-storey building is included on Dublin City Council Lands. The building height has not been confirmed as of yet and is outside of Hines control so this is not something that we can comment on.

13.Is all social housing in one block?  If so how on earth do you think that’s a good idea?  On that alone I would fight this proposal, it’s an appalling proposition.  Social / affordable housing has to be scattered otherwise you are creating ghettoes, it’s abhorrent.

Part V housing at Player Wills Bailey Gibson will be delivered in accordance with existing statutory requirements. 10% of the overall total of apartments will be provided as social housing and developed in tandem with the overall construction programme. Procedurally, the exact location and unit mix is agreed post-planning and will be a matter for Dublin City Council and the approved housing agency appointed to the development.

14. How come there is so little open public green space (I don’t think a pitch qualifies as an open public space) when Dublin 8 already has such a low % of open green space?

The quantity of public open space for SDRA 12 is set out in the Development Plan. It requires 20% to be set aside. The guiding principles in the Development Plan identifies that this will be delivered as a public park and a playing pitch. Having regard to the increased density proposed in the Masterplan, the quantity of public open space was increased to approx. 27% or 7 acres in total. This is almost 3 times the size of the Bridgefoot Street Park.

There is also additional open space reserved for use by residents. This is made up of balconies, expansive terraces and courtyards with play equipment, BBQ facilities and gardening opportunities. The quantity is fully compliant with National Guidelines.

It is important to note as well that the land reserved for the future expansion of St Catherine’s National school is not included in the calculations for 27% public open space.

In terms of location of open space, this was largely determined prior to Hines ownership as a result of collaboration between Dublin City Council & NAMA.  The spaces were distributed in a way to optimise daylight/ sunlight and other urban design criteria. One small change was made to the Framework Plan since Hines became involved, where it was considered a park was required beside the school. There was no loss of park space as a result of this change.

Total Public Open Space is 2.82 hectares and the total masterplan area is 10.3 hectares.

  1. Players Park – 0.47 hectares (includes 0.4 in Player Wills phase 1 application and 0.07 in Player Wills phase 2)
  2. St. Catherine’s Park – 0.12 hectares
  3. GAA Pitch – 1.23 hectares
  4. Open space around pitch – 1 hectare