Tenants left in limbo after discovery of planning issue with apartments

By Aura McMenamin

Tenants who paid €3,400 of their own money to secure apartments in a new development in Clondalkin are “left in limbo” after it was discovered that there are planning issues.

Larkfield House apartments in the former Liffey Valley Fitness Centre on Coldcut Road were advertised online in January for up to €2,000 for three-bedroom apartments, €1,700 for two-beds and €1300 for one-beds on Daft.ie.

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The apartment block during construction on the site on the Coldcut Road last month

Issues arose when local councillor Madeleine Johansson expressed concerns in January that there were more apartments in the complex than developers had received permission for.

An application by developer Cavvies Limited to increase the number of apartments from 27 to 48 was rejected by the council in July 2017 and was appealed with An Bord Pleanala, who have yet to make a decision.

The council stated during the February Clondalkin Area Committee meeting that it appeared that the development was not in compliance and an investigation would commence.

As a result, tenants who receive "standard" Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) from the South Dublin County Council are now left in limbo, with the council informing tenants recently that they are not processing payments due to “planning issues”.

The Echo understands that 19 tenants on homeless HAP with Dublin City Council will continue to have their payments processed.

The Echo spoke with standard HAP tenants currently living in Larkfield House. All of them moved in this month, with some having to borrow money to afford the €3,400 deposit for their two-bedroom apartments, which includes the rent for February.

In some cases, HAP payments make up almost €1500 of their €1700 monthly rent. With rent due on March 1, they say that they are unable to afford their two-bedroom apartments without HAP.

One man, who has two children, said: “A few days after I moved in, I saw that there was an issue with planning permission online. I contacted the letting agent and they said there was no problem.”

A Clondalkin woman, who borrowed money from her sister, left after the death of her brother-in-law, for the deposit, said: “I tried to apply for homeless HAP with Dublin City Council but they said they were not processing any new applications, only existing ones."

Struggling to find alternative housing

She said that due to her children being registered in local schools, she is struggling to find alternative housing in Clondalkin.

Another woman said: “I'm a single parent and work full time and I cannot afford to pay another big deposit and first months rent upfront again. It has taken me eight months to find a landlord that would accept the HAP payment.”

The Echo contacted Vincent Cosgrave, director of developer Cavvies Limited, on Wednesday. He admitted that “13 or 14” apartments did not have permission.

When asked for the total number of apartments in the complex, Mr Cosgrave said: “There’s about 42 apartments. I’m not sure.”

When asked why he had built the extra apartments while his application was in the appeal process, he said: “If it had been left alone, planning would have been passed. The Bord don’t have the staff, there was a delay. We thought there would be no hassle. There’s a need for it, a need for housing.”

The Echo put it to Mr Cosgrave that this was illegal, he said: “It’s not illegal. Jaywalking across the street is illegal. If you got up in the morning and had to do everything that wasn’t illegal, you wouldn’t get out of bed.”

The Echo contacted the two letting agents responsible for advertising the apartments and accepting deposit payments for comment.

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