Thursday 8 December 2016

Deal to set aside half of the units in O'Devaney Gardens for private developers criticised

Published 07/09/2016 | 18:27

Housing activists and local councillors have criticsed a deal reached by Dublin City Councillors with Minister Simon Coveney to set aside half of the units in the O'Devaney Gardens redevelopment site for private developers.

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The agreement, reached at a meeting of DCC committee chairs, sets aside 30pc of the units in the O'Devaney site for social housing, 20pc for cost-rental housing and leaves the other half for the private market.

This represents a reversal on the motion proposed by Workers' Party Councillor Éilis Ryan and passed in July which proposed to fund half of the O'Devaney site as social housing and the other half as cost-rental housing. City councillors had expressed concerns that this was in breach of the site's planning permission and highlighted the government's commitment to mixed-tenure housing.

A open letter circulated by the Workers' Party in advance of the meeting claimed that the party had received legal advice refuting the planning claims and that their plan could and should go ahead.

This letter was supported by a number of independent, AAA-PBP and Workers' Party TDs and councillors, along with several local housing activists.

Councillor Éilis Ryan has rejected the decision, saying the party and allies in the DCC would attempt to fight it legally. She said the decision was undemocratic, claiming it only included representatives of large parties, and expressed anger at the the attempt by DCC committee chairs to 'unilaterally overturn' the July vote to keep the development in the public sector.

O'Devaney Gardens
O'Devaney Gardens

Cllr Ryan stated that their proposal had also allowed for mixed-income housing and that reserving developments like O'Devaney Gardens for private development was unreasonable in the face of the housing crisis. She also said the funding concerns represented a lack ambition.

"Dublin City Councillors need to decide the best interests of Dublin and ask for funding on that basis," she said.

Daithí Doolan (SF), chair of the DCC Housing Committee, said the deal was the 'best we could get' to make use of the O'Devaney site.

He stressed that the DCC's priority should be building as many social houses as possible rather than pursuing ambitious goals that could not be achieved. "The Workers' Party plan would have flown in the face of planning requirements; we had no ability to deliver it."

He emphasised his support for this morning's deal as "there was no funding on the table until that moment."

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