Wednesday 23 October 2019

'A poor deal' - Lord Mayor of Dublin criticises Council plan to give public land at O’Devaney Gardens to a private developer

Controversy: The publicly owned site at O’Devaney Gardens in the capital is due to be refurbished by Bartra Capital
Controversy: The publicly owned site at O’Devaney Gardens in the capital is due to be refurbished by Bartra Capital
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

THE Lord Mayor of Dublin has hit out at the plan to hand over a swathe of public land at O’Devaney Gardens to a private developer, which will make upwards of €67m off the back of it, calling it a “poor deal” for the city.

Paul McAuliffe was heckled by a passer-by at a public event today over the plan to give the public asset on the north side of Dublin to Bartra Capital to build 769 homes on – most of which will be sold for private profit.

“As I said to the lady there, we haven’t voted on this yet,” Mr McAullife said after the heckler said it was a “disgrace”.

He admitted there were people who won’t get a home due to the deal the council plans with Bartra, the firm also behind the controversial co-living facility planned for Dún Laoghaire.

“Let there be no mistake, we are getting a poor deal on O’Devaney gardens,” the Fianna Fáil councillor and mayor said.

He said the plan was devised in the previous council term and the current council is trying to deal with it.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe at the Mansion House. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe at the Mansion House. Photo: Caroline Quinn

“We don’t want to get into a situation where, because we want better, we end up delivering nothing.

“And that’s a real difficulty, because there are people who want these houses that are on the list.

“But, equally, there are many more out there who won’t get them because we are getting a poor deal on the site,” he said.

“It certainly doesn’t match the ambitions we have in this council.”

READ MORE: Taxpayer funds may be used to boost developer's profits

He said there was a difficult in that the council  was a significant way through the process.

“So the choice for councillors is, do we stop that process and then delay the delivery of housing? Or do we say there’s a better way?

“And really we’re still walking through that process. We’re working with management to resolve it.”

O’Devaney Gardens was developed in the 1950s
O’Devaney Gardens was developed in the 1950s

Among the criticisms levelled at the plan are that some of the 165 “affordable” homes at the site will cost up to €420,000, leaving them out of reach for the vast majority of people.

“I think the Government has gone for a market-minded discount of affordable housing, which was always going to leave us in trouble because the market will rise,” Mr McAuliffe said.

“What we should be going for is a cost plus a reasonable profit.”

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However, he said there was a solution to the issue at Government level.

“There’s an answer here, the minister needs to properly fund public housing in the wider scale.

“There needs to be a real definition of what public housing means for working people. That isn’t on the table at the moment and it wasn’t on the table when this deal was done with Simon Coveney,” he said.

Bartra has refused to release its estimate for what it will earn from the site, saying the procurement process was not complete and its plan "was deemed to be most economically advantageous by the city council".

READ MORE: Developer to earn €67m profit from public land site

However, this week Independent.ie revealed how the council was leaving the door open to use more public money to boost Bartra’s profits.

The council said "at the moment" it was not the intention to pay Bartra any more for the affordable homes to make up the difference between the ‘affordable’ price and the perceived market value at the time of sale.

But a spokeswoman added: "It is not possible to confirm this will always be the case."

There was no mention of what this may constitute in the report by the deputy chief executive of the council, Brendan Kenny, to the council.

READ MORE: Private developer behind co-living flats preferred bidder for O'Devaney Gardens

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