Wednesday 11 December 2019

Bid to block O’Devaney Gardens housing development defeated

The O'Devaney Gardens site
The O'Devaney Gardens site

One of the most heated topics of the year came to a showdown last night as Dublin City Council (DCC) voted to approve a controversial housing deal for O’Devaney Gardens.

Representatives of DCC were given the opportunity to rescind the vote they cast last month regarding a new deal struck with developer Bartra Capital.

The proposal reduces the maximum "affordable" purchase price to €310,000, with 80pc of all new units designated social and affordable - an increase of 30pc from the first proposal.

However, councillors have since been questioning the deal made with Bartra and the Dublin Agreement group - which comprises Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Labour and the Social Democrats.

But despite numerous objections, the majority of councillors refused to change their minds on this issue, which has brought three years of discussions to a close.

At the meeting 61.5pc of members voted to agree to transfer publicly-owned land at the north Dublin site to the developer to build 768 units - 411 to be sold privately.

Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Sinn Féin Cllr Janice Boylan, who wanted to rescind last month’s vote, felt that councillors were misinformed about the deal.

“The plan presented to us last month was the same plan that’s been on the table since the start of this initiative – 30pc social housing, 20pc affordable-to-buy and 50pc private residential,” she said.

“What the agreement group said was that the developer would sell back some of the homes so they could rent them off at an affordable cost.

“That wasn’t even proposed through the proper channels, and as far as I’m concerned it didn’t hold any weight.

“It also didn’t take away from the fact that the affordable-to-buy aren’t even affordable,” she said.

Shortly after the November 4 vote, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy wrote to Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe, stating that claims of a deal were made without any consultation with his department.

He said buying the affordable-rental units would require significant capital and in order to repay the finance, he said.

This would mean rents would have to be set at current market rates.

The Minister also stressed that the new deal for the O’Devaney Gardens development could leave DCC open to legal challenge.

The now-demolished apartment complex was originally developed as a social housing scheme in 1954.

It had been approved for demolition and redevelopment in a deal between the city council and a private developer in 2008. However, that collapsed and the buildings have lain derelict ever since.

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