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New deal for Bartra Capital development of O’Devaney Gardens will need more than €60m in funding

 

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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

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

THE ‘new deal’ struck between the Dublin Agreement Group of councillors and developer Bartra Capital for O’Devaney Gardens will require extra funding of upwards of €60m, Independent.ie can reveal.

Fianna Fail, Labour, the Social Democrats and the Green Party today announced it had secured a deal with Bartra to agree to sell 30pc of the private homes developed on the state-owned site – half of the homes to be built at the site were marked for private sale – to an Approved Housing Body (AHB).

With 411 units planned to be sold privately, this would see around 123 units sold to the housing body, with the total cost estimated at between €50m and €60m.

These units, which would be purchased separately to the 30pc of the overall development already earmarked for social housing, would then form a part of an affordable rental scheme.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe said AHB would be permitted to raise private funding for these purchases, but this would still have to be approved by the Government.

It is understood there are concerns at a senior level about what implications the deal might have on the previous tender process and how it will be funded.

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

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

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

There are also concerns about what will constitute “affordable rental” on the units sold to the AHB at full market value. The AHB has not yet been chosen.

The plan to develop the north Dublin site is likely to be passed by Dublin city councillors tonight after the Dublin Agreement Group of parties said they had reached a deal with the developer.

In September, Independent.ie revealed how Bartra, the private developer behind a controversial plan to build a co-living facility in Dun Laoghaire, was the preferred bidder to develop public lands at O'Devaney Gardens.

However it was put in jeopardy after serious questions were raised about the cost of affordable housing at the site and the profit likely to be make by Bartra on the back of a public asset, estimated at around ��67m.

A vote was scheduled last month, but was postponed after it looked like councillors would reject the plan. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy wrote to Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe, threatening funding could be lost if it was not backed and accusing councillors of hypocrisy.

While the new agreement has the backing off the Dublin Agreement Group parties, it is being seen as the last worst outcome.

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Eoghan Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Eoghan Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Eoghan Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

 

“The madness of this proposal shows how desperate management are,” councillor Mannix Flynn, who supported the development from the start, said.

“They are willing to pay market rate to the developer for houses on public land to allow an AHB to own the houses to rent to our tenants."

He said he hoped “common sense” prevailed tonight.

“We need to get the houses built. We’re in the middle of a housing crisis and this is housing on the table,” he said.

He also hit out at what he claimed was a campaign of online intimidation against councillors to reject the deal.

In a joint statement the Dublin Group parties admitted it was not “a perfect deal” and called for Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to resign.

“We are dealing with a deeply imperfect situation where the minister and Government have failed, and continue to  refuse, to fund a sustainable, affordable and deliverable housing model.

“The minister is guilty of gross dereliction of his duty and we call on him to resign,” it said.

According to the new deal, the maximum price of an affordable home at the development will be €310,000.

Independent.ie previously revealed how price scale in the council’s original report on the 20pc affordable portion of the development went to €420,000.

Speaking at the Mansion House today on the new proposals Labour councillor Joe Costello said they were a vast improvement on the previous ones.

“80pc of the 824 units will now be affordable and social and just 20pc will be private housing.

“These new percentages reflect much more accurately the housing needs of the local community.

“Moreover, the affordable housing will be considerably less expensive than was first proposed and the price of units will not change over the period of construction,” he said.

A vote on the deal will be put before the council at tonight’s meeting.

Online Editors